Another vehicle on Toyota’s list of “crowning” glories, the Toyota Camry follows the line of cars whose names literally mean “crown”—starting with the Toyota Crown in 1955 and continuing with the Toyota Corona and Corolla, Latin words for “crown” and “small crown”, respectively. As of May 2012, the Toyota Camry is the best-selling passenger car in North America, but before it became another king in Toyota’s long line of lieges, the Camry started with humble beginnings. Let’s trace the Toyota Camry’s inception into the automotive market to its present reign in the industry.
The V series: narrow-bodied compacts (1980-1998)
Originating in 1980 as a four-door sedan similar to the Celica coupe and liftback, the Camry became an independent model line in 1982 with the V10 series, whose sole powertrain offered was the petrol-fueled 2.0-liter (77-kilowatt engine) coupled with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
The V20 model followed suit in 1986, with the liftback body variant substituted with a station wagon and an all-wheel drive system dubbed All-Trac plus a 2.5-liter V6 engine introduced. A V30 series released exclusively in Japan in 1990 then replaced the V20.
The Japanese market received a new narrow-bodied V40 series in 1994 to replace the V30. Toyota updated the V40 with anti-lock brakes and dual air bags, making them standard equipment. Cars in the series remained narrow, especially in Japan where automotive tax regulations dictated the retention of narrower bodies for Camry vehicle generations.
The XV series: wide-bodied mini-sizes (1991-present)
North America received a wide version of the V30 called the XV10 in 1991 dubbed the Toyota Scepter—the start of the XV series. The XV10 offered a 2.2-liter 5S-FE four-cylinder engine, up from 2.0 liters in the V20 and V30. It was replaced by the XV20 in 1996, which continued as a sedan and station wagon and was called the Camry Gracia in Japan and was launched in the US for the 1997 model.
The XV30 Camry had two distinctive designs: the American version with a more conservative, mass-appeal look, and the Asian version with more chrome, larger head and tail lights, and a wider design.
The XV40 generation heightened the gap between the Asian and American markets—the Asian Camry has a larger body size for a higher-end market priced just below German luxury models and is also sold as the Toyota Aurion in Australia, fitted with a 3.5-liter V6 engine.
The newest Camry, the XV50, was introduced in the market in 2011. This lineup was reduced to being a single variant—hybrid—for the Japanese market. Meanwhile the US Camry carried over three different engine choices: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid model rated at 150 kW (200 horsepower), a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine rated at 133 kW (178 hp), and a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 200 kW (268 hp).