Micropost: 1990-1994 Toyota Camry Estate

This one shows Toyota in its aero phase and is unusually fuss-free.

1990-1994 Toyota Camry estate
1990-1994 Toyota Camry estate

It’s still flawed though. The back-end is too heavy around the bumper. I can see that they wanted a swoopy, space-age feel and if the black covering the sills had extended from front to back the car would have achieved a more coherent look and lost no spacey-ness

1990-1994 Toyota Camry estate
1990-1994 Toyota Camry estate

During this time Toyota offered a wide and narrow body version. With two sales channels in Japan and variants for Australasia, N America and Europe, the number of variations on this is bewildering. Some versions had blacked-out sills and bumper valences and looked the better for it.

The front bumper also looks too large. Length: 4.6 metres.

1990-1994 Toyota Camry 2.2 petrol estate
1990-1994 Toyota Camry 2.2 petrol estate

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “Micropost: 1990-1994 Toyota Camry Estate”

  1. Looking at these pictures, I become aware that I haven’t seen one of these cars in ages.

    Its 1986–1991 predecessor was a huge seller in Switzerland, mainly as an estate. With its generously glazed tailgate, it already offered some spaciness.The model shown here was still quite common, but far from the ubiquitousness of the earlier one. I also have the impression that the share of estates had become smaller; probably the design wasn’t too easy for customers to accept.

  2. The same here. I bet there aren’t ten of these in Denmark. The predecessor had a more pleasing style, both as saloon and estate. I suppose as a marginal player at this size/price Toyota would have been among the first brands too withdraw from the common street scene, first with the estates and then entirely. Ten years after this car the Camry left the Euromarket.

  3. To my eyes the XV10 Camry was a backwards step from the upright and nicely detailed V20, looking as it did like a Corolla E100 blown up on the photocopier*. Still, Toyota was not the only manufacturer to suffer from the fad for doughy shapes that beset the 1990s, and at least the Camry was tidy enough, in saloon format at least.

    *Included just to annoy Laurent.

    1. Well, the one I had was my family’s vehicle and I bought it off of my mother with so many problems. The years I owned it, I spent trying to fix it. It wasn’t expensive or anything but it was a pain in the sense that the issues were never resolved. I had to constantly change a part that looked like a dogbone (motor mount) axles, struts, control arms, the undercarriage was very rusty. I even blew an engine because the shop I went to for an oil change forgot to put the cover back on. Other than that, it was a great first car especially since it wasn’t very expensive to maintain and the car felt very solid.

  4. ‘Too heavy around the rear bumper’? Well yes, that is one of the design’s flaws, but a broader one is that it is unspeakably bland at the front and simply horrific at the back. That D pillar… I mean, what?

    I see the owner has disabled one of the two – yes, two! – rear window wipers, which is about this car’s sole interest point.

    1. That D-pillar is probably the root of all evil. Didn’t we have a discussion here about the now ubiquitous reverse rake pillars and their origin? There you are!

  5. Human Interest: it never ceases to amaze me what work people attempt on their cars, above routine maintenance. That’s something pampered European motoring journalist might forget when running down “ordinary” cars like the Camry. The most advancded thing I did with my car was change the plugs (Citroen) and oil (Buick). Anything else has left me at the mercy of a mechanic.
    Jacomo: it’s not as bad as the Lagona below, though.

  6. I liked your observation about the heavy bumpers a nd blackened sills, Richard.
    When painted bumpers became fashionable, a lot of cars had this problem – the coloured bits were lower outside the wheels than between them. Good to know that I’m not the only one bothered by this.

    1. There is an article waiting to be written on the influence of the TT in this respect, and in particular, the 1995 TT concept. As far as I can see, it was the first mainstream design – although I suppose, now I think about it, foreshadowed by the Concept One – to drop the sills below the wheel centreline. Visually, this bulks up the body relative to the glasshouse, but just as importantly, it meant previously normal-sized wheels looked utterly inadequate. If you check out coverage of Frankfurt ’95, it really is quite striking how modern the TT still looks, and how tinny and ancient everything else seems in comparison. The deep sills really did make a massive contribution to the communication of the ‘perceived quality’ effect VAG was starting to make a big deal about. To put it in context – something like the Bravo/a was less than a year old at this point.

      Consequently, in my head, it is entirely reasonable to blame Audi for the current plague of big wheels.

      As for the Camry – as a kid, the twin wipers seemed pretty cool. Then CAR referenced the Allegro estate. Wasn’t any recovering from that, really.

    2. Stradale, this is a very interesting observation! If we can blame Audi for anything, I’m in anyway.

      But more seriously, adopting this ‘perceived quality’ look happened at the same time when crash ratings became a big point in designing and selling cars, and technology leaped forward tremendously in this respect.
      While I can’t prove it, I still believe that a good safety level can be achieved without this massive look – high sills, small windows, high waistline, etc. I have to say that I largely prefer the ‘old’ look with sleek bodies and reasonably sized wheels that don’t eat up all interior space.

  7. I have the saloon version, its a 3.0l v6. Its very smooth to drive and the sound of the engine when planting the foot on the accelerator is phenomenal. It can achieve high speeds but doesn’t feel particularly fast, it’s better for cruising. It has been pretty reliable and only had one incident of boiling its coolant whilst touring rural Perthshire. Luckily I found a stream of fresh water nearby so topped up the coolant and away I went…

    1. Hello sblythe: if the 70s and 80s Camrys were quite American, this version is plain Toyota. I think that as long as you view them as comfortable cruisers you’ll enjoy the car. I wish that the interiors had more appeal. I looked into this car and it had as much appeal as a Corolla. Why have the Japanese been so insistent on interiors that annoy fussy Europeans? My sense of justive is bothered that Toyota didn’t get a more representative slice of the market: these cars might not storm the Nurburgring but they are decently reliable and well-specced. That should have been enough to double sales.

    1. I’m not complaining too much about this particular pillar — rather about all those we’re served today.

      I think it’s not just the lower part of the bumper that’s wrong. The whole bumper looks like it’s positioned too low, and so are the rear lamps, besides having an unharmonic shape that doesn’t match with the rear window.

  8. Simon: yes, the lamps lack definition. They are characterless oblongs. The black sill worsens the low-hanging rear bumper. It could have been good with some marginal tweaking.

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