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Camry was introduced as a front-wheel drive vehicle available in either four-door sedan or five-door hatchback configuration. It won acclaim from Consumer's Digest in 1986 as a "Best Buy", and has remained on the list since then.
In 1986, Toyota broke ground on an all-new production facility in Georgetown, Ky., Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (TMM), with the first U.S.-built Camry rolling out of the plant in 1988.
The 1987 model year saw the introduction of the second generation Camry. With it, Toyota also introduced a new 2.0L 16-valve four-cylinder engine, followed in 1988 by a new 2.5L 24-valve V-6. The 1987 model year also saw the release of a station wagon to replace the hatchback, and the option of All-Trac, Toyota's full-time all-wheel-drive system, on all models.
Camry grew up for 1992. The third generation model was larger in every dimension than the previous model, and Camry became classified as "midsize". Engines were now 2.2L four-cylinder units (producing almost as much power as the previous V-6, but with four-cylinder economy), and 3.0L V-6s. Due to dwindling sales and high engineering costs, Toyota dropped the All-Trac model. Domestic production soared and TMM became the sole production facility world-wide for the Camry station-wagon.
Safety had always been an important consideration for the Camry, and in 1994, it was available with dual front airbags as standard equipment. The vehicle also met 1997 side-impact standards three years before it was required to.
1994 also saw the addition of the U.S.-built Camry coupe to the lineup. Available with both four- and six-cylinder engines and in DX, LE and SE trim levels, it brought a new audience to Camry.
All-new for 1997, the new Camry was quieter, lighter and more powerful with better ride quality and improved handling.
Both of Camry's engines received horsepower and torque increases. The new CE base-grade (replacing DX nomenclature) reintroduced the five-speed manual V6.
With an additional two inches in wheelbase, a lowered beltline and swept-back windshield, the 1997 Camry's cabin was more spacious and inviting. NVH was reduced and new convenience features included separate rear headrests, dual rear cupholders, front overhead storage console, a glove box volume increase of 29% and a second power port for cellular phones and other electronic equipment. The power mast antenna was eliminated on the LE and XLE models and replaced with an on-glass antenna.
The 1997 Camry was the safest Camry yet, meeting or exceeding all current and foreseeable crash test criteria for North America, Europe and Asia. New safety features included enhanced impact protection, a three-point seatbelt to the center rear seat, and an optional Child Restraint System (CRS) with fabric seats. Traction control, offered for the first time on a front-engine front-wheel drive Toyota, was an available option for 1997. ABS was now standard on all models except the four-cylinder CE, in which it could be ordered as a low-cost option.
For 1998, both four- and six-cylinder engines (with the exception of the five-speed/V6 combination) were rated as Low Emission Vehicles with the EPA. Other changes to the line were the introduction of the redesigned sound system head units found in all 1998 Toyotas and two new colors.
For 2000, the Camry sedan received exterior styling enhancements with a new front fascia that features a new grille and bumper design and multi-reflector headlamps. Camry's great styling featured new rear combination taillights with wider horizontal reflectors and a new bumper design for a smoother appearance. Camry's side protection molding was also redesigned, with XLE models adding a chrome accent. The exterior enhancements were capped off with new 15-inch wheel covers for the LE grade and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels for the XLE V6.
The interior received convenience upgrades in the area of audio systems, new fabric seats and value packages that include leather-trimmed interiors and power seats. The interior also received simulated wood trim as standard equipment.
For 2001, the Camry offered a special "Gallery Series" edition on the Camry LE grade. It featured a two-tone exterior paint, upgraded two-tone seat fabric, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, carbon fiber trimmed center stack and shift plate, chrome accent door lock levers and HVAC vents, chrome-tipped exhaust, "Gallery Series" badging, five-spoke aluminum wheels and chrome painted LE wheel covers.
The 2002 Camry was completely redesigned. It featured the first all-new platform in 10 years, making it roomier, quieter and more powerful. A new SE model grade was available with a sportier style. An all-new 2.4-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing (VVT-i) powered the Camry. It generated 157 horsepower and achieved 23/32 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Camry also offered a 3.0-liter V6 that generated 192 horsepower. The V6 achieved 20/28 mpg city/highway. Both engines were EPA-certified Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV). Three model grades were offered - LE, SE and XLE. A DVD-based navigation system was newly available. This GPS system had a faster calculating time than all of its competitors in the U.S. market.
The 2003 Camry entered the new model year unchanged, with the exception of standard fog lamps on the XLE grade and available power adjustable pedals on all trim levels with automatic transmission.
The 2004 Camry receives a few upgrades to select models. The SE V6 model receives a new 3.3-liter V6 engine with VVT-i that produces 225 horsepower and 222 ft.-lb. of torque. XLE and SE models are available with a five-speed super electronically-controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (SECT-i). A new Limited Edition Camry LE model features a unique exterior and interior enhancements.
(Information courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales USA)