Used car buying is always fun but with a certain level of gamble and risk: there’s very little information about used cars or second-hand cars out there, even if you scoured the internet, so it’s difficult to know everything about cars from even just two years ago. That said, sometimes you take a leap of faith and buy a used car, with as much information as you can get. I thought to share our discoveries when my dad got a used 2015 Camry, so he wouldn’t need to use his teenaged 2003 Camry as a daily driver anymore.
(before you read on, know that I’m NOT a car guy. I don’t know the difference between 4WD and AWD and I still find the VTEC-leta joke funny. If you likewise think that a car is just a means to get from point-A to point-B, then read on. If you expect fancy terms like “gear ratio”, you’ll be disappointed). So without further ado:
The newer Camry is a white pearl 2.5V A/T, 4-cylinder bought as a used car from his friend, who took very good care of this car. This isn’t the top-of-the-line as there’s still the 3.5Q to reckon with. The older Camry on the other hand is the top in its time, a 3.0V V6.
The newer used car was immaculate inside and out even though it been driven 51,000 km. I’m talking crazy – it even had a lot of the protective plastic still on. As an owner, I hate leaving the plastic on, since it prevents you from enjoying the product the way it should be enjoyed. As the son-of-the-buyer though, it was great knowing that the plastic cover is still there, and there are no scratches on the paneling, consoles and screens. Service records were complete, and the used car was casa-maintained. There was literally nothing broken – if used car buying were a gamble, I felt we had just hit jackpot.
So how do the old and new Camry compare?
Let’s start with the positive – from 2003 to 2015, the features and layout of the Camry didn’t change much – which is great. Everything was still where they were, including the foot-brake which in 2003 I hated (why not a handbrake like most other cars I drove then, FFS?). Now, it still felt familiar on the left-most bottom side of the driver’s area. I now appreciate Toyota’s design choice here since it also decluttered the center console a lot. Nothing really moved around, which was good.
There were some things that did change – for the better, IMHO. Toyota’s LED screens are now more subdued and no-nonsense. Gone are the garish multi-colored lighting options in the front panel of the 2003. It’s also just a little bit longer and wider, which translates into just a bit more space and comfort for everyone. This particular car measures 4825 x 1825 x 1470 mm (LxWxH) as opposed to the older 4805 x 1795 x 1490 mm. Did I notice the difference? No, not really, but it’s nice to know it’s there. There’s media controls on the steering wheel now, thankfully – but this is standard, even for the Camry’s more modest younger siblings.
The negatives – unfortunately, also stem from the fact that the features and layout of the Camry didn’t change much – which in these cases, were pretty bad. Keep in mind that in 2015, this was a car going for P1.6MM and change already, and with that kind of money, I expect Toyota to outfit this car with at least most of the creature comforts that our cheaper and older 2013 SUV had. Much like in 2003, this car doesn’t have bluetooth handsfree and wireless media pairing with your cellphone – again, a feature already available in much cheaper cars, back in 2015. What it had was a USB input that didn’t work with my Samsung Android phone. Could this be Apple only?! I’ll investigate further with my sister’s iPhone. This is a very big omission for me, since it’s one of the things I really care about – it’s an entertainment issue (Spotify during traffic? Yes!), but more importantly a safety issue when you can speak to someone hands-free while dealing with Metro Manila traffic.
You know that very useful rear camera that automatically turns on when you place the car in reverse? Not available. It does still maintain the (slightly annoying) sonar reverse assist sound that it had in 2003 – again, probably groundbreaking in ’03, but anachronistic even back in 2015.
How does the 2015 Camry Drive?
I won’t bore you with the details of its horsepower or torque or other things I don’t know myself, but I’ll tell you that the rear wheel drive accelerates confidently and with dignity. It doesn’t burst jerkily forward like an over-eager intern, spilling your coffee along the way but rather like a boss reassuring you and saying “Chill, I got this…”, and then proceeds to sprint forward, fast.
How safe is it?
It ticks off a lot of boxes that you hope you’ll never need, but will thank Toyota if you ever do – a whole suite of airbags, stability control, ABS, childlock protection and others. It does conspicuously lack ISOFIX, which, if you have a baby, you’d know and care about (I do, and I’m disappointed that this isn’t included).
So what’s my verdict?
If you’re buying a used car, the 2015 Camry can tick a lot of boxes for you, but it doesn’t quite live up to its tagline of “The Excitement of Refinement”. Again, for the money that was originally paid for, I would’ve expected a few items that were conspicuously absent. I’d say it’s more of – it’s a “good enough” full-sized car, and it’s a Toyota, so that’s valuable, but I wouldn’t use the word “excitement” anywhere close to the Camry.