The Toyota Camry probably isn’t most people’s idea of a cool car. Make no mistake though, the Camry was more important to the history of the automobile in America than almost any other car in the second half of the 20th century. Today, even older examples with high mileage can still demand high prices from used car dealerships and independent sellers.
But what exactly makes the Camry so much more valuable than any other mid-size sedan on the American market? If you ask Toyota enthusiasts, the Camry shares a common trait found on all Toyota products. Supreme reliability and minute attention to detail, even on a mass-produced scale.
The Camry is Toyota’s second “World Car” alongside the compact Corolla. Together, they form the cornerstone that’s kept Toyota the dominant automotive force in America for nearly the last four decades. Now in its 13th generation, the Camry is the highest-selling mid-size sedan in the world. As you’ll see, mass-producing cars on a huge scale don’t always lead to depreciating like a stone.
Even older high mileage examples of Camrys can demand a high premium at used car dealers across the globe; let’s look at how they manage to retain so much of their value.
Fuel Economy Gains Means Gains In Your Wallet
It goes without saying that a more fuel-efficient car will save you money in the long run. But an interesting phenomenon evolved around the Toyota Camry’s class-leading fuel economy in both the early late 2000s. As a simultaneous global recession and energy crisis took hold in the United States, the price of gasoline soared to unprecedented highs.
Much like what happened in the 1973 oil embargo crisis, suddenly, the ability for families to fuel their big thirsty gas hogs was put in serious question. This led to many people downsizing their SUVs for smaller, more efficient family cars, such as the Camry.
At the time of the 2008 recession, the 2009 Toyota Camry had an average fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
The hybrid version of this Camry could bump up that figure all the way to 35 mpg combined, Compare this fuel economy to the big SUVs of the late 2000s, and it makes sense why the Camry had a steady stream of new and used buyers in the aftermath of a recession. At that time, the value of a Camry had increased without having to do anything at all.
Over a million Camrys were sold from 2008 until 2012, the prime years of the financial crisis, and countless more were sold used. Many of these buyers were downsizing from an SUV to something more sensible. If the price of petroleum ever rises again, expect Camrys to shoot up in resale value even further.
Four Decades Of Top Quality Manufacturing
As so many Americans discovered in the 1970s, the reason Japanese imports became better suited for American roads than America’s own car brands is actually pretty simple. They were better at adjusting to a changing world by offering you things a young driver needs like lots of space, a smooth engine, and everything you need in a family runaround. At a time when it was expected that all cars were unreliable regardless of where they came from, Toyota proved the automobile can indeed be the reliable stalwart of your life you’ve always wanted it to be.
As other competing mid-sized sedans like the Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Impala, and Volkswagen Passat were bogged down with unreliability issues, recalls, and extended warranty services. The Camry’s largely managed to stay clear of the industry-wide recall bug that’d even begun to affect other models in the Toyota lineup, including the Corolla, which had a recall due to airbag problems.
Apart from possibly the Honda Accord, you’d still be hard-pressed to find a mid-sized sedan with reliability figures even remotely close to what a used Camry can deliver.
As of right now, a 2013 Camry L with a four-cylinder engine can be had for around $14,500. With a launch price of around $25,000, that means that this particular Camry’s lost less than half of its value in depreciation over the course of eight years. For reference, it’s not uncommon for German luxury cars to lose that much value a year after ownership, let alone eight years.
Sure, Camrys aren’t the hip, cool car you’ve always dreamed of buying, but let’s face facts. For most of us right now, life is all about survival, meaning most of us can’t afford to spend all of our money constantly fixing cars. So, the next time you’re in the market for a cheap reliable car on a budget, resist the urge to buy a BMW; a used Camry is waiting out somewhere just for you.
Sources: Carfax, Kelly Blue Book
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