The Best & Worst Years Of Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is a midsize sedan that’s been driving in the U.S. since 1983. With forty years of production and more than 13 million vehicles sold, it’s clear that there’s a distinction between the best and worst years of Toyota Camry models. While the Camry is considered a reliable vehicle, not all models are worth the money.

We’ve done the research to show you the top five Camry models in terms of reliability and mechanical integrity. We also have five Camry models that you should avoid. At the end of the guide, you’ll find the top mechanical issues with the Camry and some answers to questions you’ve asked. 

Best Toyota Camry Model Years

Of all the Toyota Camry models, we highly recommend either the 2022 or 2013 years. Additionally, the 2017, 2014 and 2012 Toyota Camry sedans are reliable and receive exceptional customer reviews, so these would be good to buy used if you find one in decent condition.

Let’s break each model down, looking at features, fuel economy, recalls and consumer reviews. 

1. 2022 Toyota Camry

2022 Toyota Camry - one of the best years

As a newer model, you can get the latest features without paying the full sticker price from a dealer. Based on customer reviews, these Camry sedans tend to have the most comfortable interiors and stylish exterior appeal.

While there’s nothing wrong with the 2023 Camry, this model seems to fare better with consumers. The hybrid models also earn mind-blowing efficiency ratings. For these reasons, we had to include it as our number one option. 

2. 2013 Toyota Camry

2013 Toyota Camry - one of the best years

Picking a Camry that’s a decade old isn’t such a scary option. These Camry sedans are some of the most highly rated and there were minimal updates from earlier years, so you know all of the bugs and glitches have been worked out. 

For this year, the standard infotainment display was upgraded to six inches, which is larger than many others from the same time. Plus, the blind spot system was upgraded to be even safer. 

3. 2017 Toyota Camry

2017 Toyota Camry - one of the best years

There are no major updates with the 2017 Camry either. It has a reliable build filled with modern amenities for an enjoyable ride.

Just a few years earlier, in 2015, the exterior was completely redesigned, so this model isn’t part of an older generation. Plus, the infotainment system appears to be responsive, which wasn’t always the case for years before this one. 

4. 2014 Toyota Camry

The 2014 Camry is a budget-friendly option. Even though it’s a little older, it still earns great fuel economy numbers, helping you save money when filling up.

This year is the first for the SE Sport trim. It contains larger wheels, a power driver seat and a sunroof for more excitement. 

5. 2012 Toyota Camry

2012 Toyota Camry - one of the best years

For the 2012 model year, Toyota upgraded the Camry, bringing in a new lineup. Normally, the first model in a new generation is riddled with issues, but that wasn’t the case for the 2012 year. In fact, consumers were thrilled with it, especially since previous bugs had been fixed.

Braking was improved, fuel efficiency scored higher than competitors and the technology was ahead of its time. All of these aspects made for sensational reviews. 

Worst Toyota Camry Model Years

Not all Toyota Camry models have been made equally. Customer complaints hit an all-time record with the 2007 and 2009 Toyota Camry. Based on research, we also can’t recommend the 2010, 2008 or 2002 Toyota Camry models. 

Let’s jump in and find out what the top complaints are about each of these Camry models.

1. 2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry - one of the worst years

There are serious concerns with the 2007 Camry model. Among the top complaints, we’ve read a lot about the engine overheating due to excessive oil consumption. These issues can also occur in conjunction with a burning smell.

While less concerning, customers also note that the dashboard melts. This defect must be due to low-quality parts used on the dashboard that don’t fare well in the sunshine. 

2. 2009 Toyota Camry

Many of the same issues occurring with the 2007 Camry are present with the 2009 model year as well. Customers complain about excessive oil consumption that can lead to engine damage.

Interior malfunctions also seem to be the problem. Sun visors are cracking and the dashboard tends to melt, leading to a hideous aesthetic. 

3. 2008 Toyota Camry 

Several online sources refer to the 2008 Camry as a clunker. Because of defects, experts recommend staying clear of this model year. Considering the other two we’ve reviewed are within a year of this, it’s obvious what the issues are going to be.

Excessive oil consumption is the biggest complaint. Following that, we see reports of the dashboard melting and the engine light coming on. 

4. 2010 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry 2010

Some of the same problems continue to the 2010 model year, with some additions to be weary of. There’s still the issue of excessive oil consumption.

There are also reports of the rear window shattering for no reason. If there are people in the back seat at the time, it can be dangerous. 

5. 2002 Toyota Camry

Moving even earlier into the models, the 2002 Camry is another to avoid. There have been complaints of unexpected acceleration, leading to dangerous accidents. 

Beyond that, the transmission can fail prematurely, even with proper maintenance. If that’s not enough, beware of the chance of broken head bolts. 

Most Common Toyota Camry Problems

Based on consumer reviews and RepairPal data, we’ve been able to narrow down the top Toyota Camry problems. Customers complain most about excessive oil consumption, transmission failure, AC/heater issues, defective brakes and melting dashboards.

Here is some more information about these defects.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Toyota Camry engine oil consumption

As discussed with many of the worst Camry models, there are reports of excessive oil consumption. Oil levels drop rapidly with no leak present.

The trouble with this is that the engine remains unprotected when the oil gets too low. If left unchecked, owners may need to replace the engine, which isn’t cheap. 

Transmission Failure

Toyota Camry transmission problems

Another expensive problem is transmission failure. Some owners complain that transmissions can slip out of gear or have rough performance, especially while accelerating or slowing down.

Delayed engagement also seems to be an issue, even when the transmission is properly maintained. Sadly, a new transmission can cost more than an older model is worth. 

AC/Heater Issues

Musty smell from car AC

Some newer models have been subject to musty smells coming from the air conditioning vents. Once the AC is serviced, these smells tend to go away, so it’s likely that moisture is being held where it shouldn’t be.

Sadly, there were class action lawsuits regarding the issues, claiming that mold can grow if it’s not taken care of. Other customers complain that the AC compressor can go out, requiring a replacement. 

Defective Brakes

Toyota Camry Brake issues

There’s also the issue of malfunctioning brakes, which can be a scary situation. Sometimes, owners discuss that the brakes seem to take longer than normal to activate. If the driver isn’t prepared for this event, a collision could occur.

There are other reports that the brake lights may fail to work. When this happens, drivers behind the Camry don’t know that it is slowing down. 

Melting Dashboards

In some Camry vehicles, the interior materials aren’t high-quality. There’s a chance that the dashboard can start to melt, especially if the car is parked outside in direct sunlight.

While fading is a normal occurrence in these situations, the dashboard should never physically melt. This problem leaves owners with the hassle of having the dashboard replaced, especially if they want to get a good resale value when it comes time to upgrade. 

What year Toyota Camry is the most reliable?

The 2012-2014, 2017 and 2022 Toyota Camry models appear to be the most reliable. There are minimal complaints and hardly any recalls for these years. While there may be some minor complaints, none of these suffer from catastrophic failures on a large scale. With proper maintenance, they could all last many miles.

What are the worst years for the Toyota Camry?

While the Toyota Camry is considered a reliable vehicle, there are some model years that didn’t live up to expectations. We found the most complaints for the 2002 and 2007-2010 Toyota Camry sedans. These often deal with excessive oil consumption, transmission failure, defective brakes and other costly problems.

What year did the Toyota Camry burn oil?

There are reports of excessive oil consumption with the 2007-2010 Toyota Camry sedans. It wasn’t until 2011 that Toyota finally took action on this issue. A technician service bulletin (TSB) was issued to discuss the concerns. It appears that the 2AZ-FE four-cylinder engine is the only one affected, which was in the gas- and hybrid variants, as well as some other popular Toyota vehicles.

Is a 10-year-old Camry a good car?

Older Camry models can be extremely reliable, with many drivers getting more than 200,000 miles on them. The key is to verify that it’s a reliable model and to check the service history. When shopping for a used car, it’s best to have it checked out by a qualified mechanic, just to be sure there’s nothing serious wrong.

As one of the more reliable used cars on the market, the Toyota Camry is a top choice for discerning drivers. For most of the model years, the Camry is a great buy. Yet, there are some that may not provide everything you deserve. For that reason, it’s always recommended to do some research before signing on the dotted line.

You can count on consumer reviews to guide you in the right direction. We also recommend reading the recalls to see what major mechanical problems occur. Finally, you can trust the ratings of many popular auto publications who have tried out each vehicle. 


Categories: General

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