Last month, I drove a 2019 Camry LE rental car between CT and Montreal for work. During that trip, I admired how good the mileage was - near 40 MPG average, reminiscent of our beloved Skyactiv Mazda3 - and how well the Camry dealt with the piss-poor roads in Canada, unlike the rental car I'd driven a couple weeks prior (Hyundai Elantra).
Fast forward, with the advent of my sub-$1k GMT800 purchase, I'm thinking of a potential replacement for the Frontier, since the daily driver mileage and lack of cabin space are getting to me. Since we'd gotten the truck 5 years ago, my work situation has changed (better commute + work from home during bad weather + we now have a Subaru) and I'm no longer putting mileage on a beater car to justify the relatively poor mileage of the Frontier. In addition, the Subaru that we replaced our 35 MPG Mazda3 with has been averaging 22-23, and needless to say we miss having a vehicle that can do 400+ miles to a tank. Not to mention that our trip car function now rests with a 12-year-old Subaru (which, knock on wood, has been a good car so far).
Between work, daycare runs, and school I'm still doing about 300+ miles a week mostly in the Subaru. My wife has the short commute, so she's been using the truck, but the hills and local driving are killing the mileage, which has plummeted down to about 16 MPG in recent months.
So, enter the Camry. At first, we were looking for minimal cash outlay for a Frontier replacement, which landed us in the 2015-2016 range. But I then remembered the 2019 I drove, and took a look around and saw that 2018 SE's (mostly ex-rentals) are just a little bit more, so today I carted the family down to the dealership to have a looksee.
Drove the SE, and I liked it. It felt more composed than the LE (which felt a little wallowy in some conditions) but still very smooth-riding. The half-pleather seats were nice, and it's kinda nice having a vehicle that was designed in this decade. The 8-speed snaps off shifts pretty nicely, and since it has the same combo as the LE I drove, I know the mileage figures hold up - I was able to drive from CT to Montreal, go back and forth between the plant and the hotel for a couple days (about 15 miles each way) and make it back into NY before I had to gas up. Best part, there's actually room in the front seat in front of the kiddo, who's in a rear-facing car seat for at least another year and a half.
I'm looking for something that rides well, is easy to maintain, and easy to look at. For those reasons, I keep coming back to the Camry SE.
So far, the only downside is that the SE doesn't come with heated seats, which is kind of a bummer. But other than that, the mix of features on the SE has what I'm looking for - good headlights (LED), adaptive cruise, CarPlay (can be upgraded on this 2018, which the dealer offered for free) and auto up/down windows. I know these are all common things, but again, I've never owned a car designed in this decade. Since 2019 is winding down, better now than never, right?
Between the trade value on the truck and the sale price of the Camry, with nothing down we're at $160/mo with the dealer. Car in question is an ex-rental with 38k miles - seemed clean enough. The fuel cost should take care of some of the difference, and the maintenance should be less over time than maintaining a 4WD truck. The Camry should easily be able to handle day trips and weekend overnights to Grandma and Grandpa's. If we need any more space or inclement weather capabilities, we have the Subaru. My wife will take over the Subaru and I'll be driving the Camry.
Anything I should be weary of with these? I figure with as with any automatic, transmission needs a drain/fill every 40-60k miles. I see that these new Camrys take 0W-16 oil, which given a quick look on Amazon is kinda expensive to DIY - so maybe oil changes will be another thing that can be taken off my plate. I figure that being a Toyota, the brakes and suspension will wear like iron and won't need attention for a long time.