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Sunday, October 22, 2006

FULL REVIEW: 1998 Toyota Camry 3.0i V6 24v Quad-Cam

In this blog, I am reviewing 1998 Toyota Camry 3.0i V6. It’s imported from Australia and sold in limited numbers in Malaysia. Due to the prohibitive road tax and High Fuel Consumption fear, Camry 3.0i V6 is a Rare model as 9/10 Camry sold in Malaysia were 4 cyl 2.2i model. Here’s the summarized article 2/3 is taken from a defunct Malaysian car magazine, Highway Malaysia, January 1998 issue.

Continuing on the theme of international styling and image, the new Camry is distinctive but not radical (ie. Won’t turn heads). The designer spent a great deal of time in the wind tunnel shaping the Camry to be as aerodynamic as possible. The outcome? A 0.30Cd of Co-efficient of drag. All surfaces, including the door handles have been kept as flush as possible and the corners rounded off. The front bumper is contoured to smoothly direct airflow around and above the car and airflow around the whole body is smooth and there are no protrusions to cause turbulence. The front and rear windscreens are bonded to the bodyshell, reducing the gap to just a few millimeters, while the side window glass is positioned as flush as possible which contributed to the low Co-efficient of drag.

The new Camry is a larger car than before, but somehow the new styling cleverly disguise the bulk. The wheelbase is now 2670mm, a generous increase OF 5mm which resulted the length extended to 4755mm, 30mm longer than before. The width is now 12mm more than its predecessor, while the overall height is now 9mm higher.


Due to the exterior dimensions increase, the interior space also increased and the level of luxury fittings improved significantly. There’s wood grain trim laced around the dashboard with supple leather upholstery. Both front seats are electronically adjustable with driver side having 6-way adjustable.

The odometer and tripmeter display are now in digital form. The Camry comes with many convenient features such as power windows with anti-jam mechanism, central locking with COBRA Alarm and Immobilizer. Also, it has additional 12v outlets. It has plenty of storage space with lockable glovebox, front door pockets, centre console box which doubles as armrest AND two Cupholders with dedicated lid. Rear passengers has great leg/head and shoulder rooms with space for 3 full size adults or 4 (YES 4!!!) childrens each with rear seatbelts and headrests
For the In-car entertainment, it came with Kenwood AM/FM Cassette with RDS and 10 disc CD-Changer at the boot with steering wheel remote control with controls the volume, station and tracks without taking the hands off the steering wheel.


The new Camry lays claim to being the safest Camry yet, exceeding all current and foreseeable crash test criteria for North America, Europe and Asian countries. Interestingly, it is 6 years ahead of tough Australian Design Rules of passive safety. All these were achieved with the help of Toyota’s in House GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment). GOA is claimed to be one of the strictest crash test criteria standards in the industry. For example, in frontal collision tests, the accepted European standard is 56km/h, but Toyota designed it for a higher impact speed of 65km/h.

The New Camry is the First Locally assembled Japanese car to have two front airbags as standard. The airbag system makes use of electronic sensors for fool-proof operation. The sensor is designed to determine the severity of the front collision and inflate the airbag(s) if exceeds 25km/h within milliseconds.

The brakes is equipped with 4 disc brakes system with front being ventilated. It has standard electronic 3 channel/4 sensor ABS.


The heart of the new Camry V6 is not the same as the one in the previous generation (which is imported and sold in a small number in Malaysia). A major difference is that the engine is “ALL-Aluminium” and 40kgs lighter. It is said to share many of the same materials and design architecture as the Lexus LS400.

The timing of the 24 valves has been carefully set to ensure strong curve in the lower end of the speed range for responsiveness. The V6 engine delivers 134KW of DIN Power (183hp) at 5200rpm and 267Nm of torque at 4400rpm. It has 3 way catalytic converter and meets the current emission control standards set by the Malaysian Government.

Only a 4 speed Automatic transmission with Electronic controls is available. The new transmission has “intelligence” and is so clever that it does away with the previous “POWER/ECONOMY” Switch. An extra feature of the gearbox is a lock-up clutch which eliminates slip-induced power loss. Cruise control is a standard feature. For practical reasons, in automatically disengages whenever the brake pedal is depressed. It also won’t activate at speed below 40km/h.

The Camry has 4 independent suspensions with front being :McPherson Struts and coil springs, lower arms with stabilizer bar in a sub-frame mounting. The lower control arms of the front McPherson struts are forged in 1 piece for less weight and greater rigidity. For the rear, a dual link arrangement is used with McPherson struts and coil springs. It also has anti-roll bar in a sub-frame mounting (like the front).

My EXPERIENCE: BUT AND A BIG BUT. The suspension setting is SOFT, and tuned for comfort only. “Whacking corners” is strongly discouraged in this car as it will understeer easily and/or cause discomfort to passengers. If you loved to drive fast on corners or ZIGZAGGING between lanes, this car is not for you UNLESS you upgrade to harder springs/shocks. Instead, it is at home at Highways, driving at a cruising speed or high speed. In fact, 180km/h feels like 110km/h. Super quiet, super stable. It is designed for American roads (As it’s the best-selling car in America from 1998 to 2001) which consist mostly LONG, STRAIGHT roads. Ride comfort is FIRST CLASS akin to it’s sister car, the LEXUS ES300.

The rack and pinion power steering is perfectly weighted which gives the driver a good control feedback of the car… The smoothness was really amazing and the car is PHREAKING QUIET! Engine barely audible at idle and the noise only came alive after revving past 5000rpm!!! Top speed is electronically limited to 210km/h as it’s build in Australia, hence Aussie specs. A sensible guess is 225km/h without the limiter.

FINAL SAY: The Camry 3.0i V6 is freaking RARE in Malaysia. Like I said earlier, only 10 out of 100 (or 1/10) Camrys’ sold in Malaysia are 3.0i V6 Quad-cam 24v model. The Camry is SO good that it’s American Best selling car for 3 yrs in a row beating the Accord and the Ford Taurus. Being No.1 in a HIGHLY Competitive market is NOT EASY! A check in MSN Car Owner’s review shows an averaged 8.7/10 points rating with 3 / 4 of them giving 8 /10 ratings and above and half of them keeping the car (mostly 1999) for another 5 years (up to 2010!) or would buy another CAMRY! SELECTED COMMENTS:

1) “Bought this car brand new from the dealer back in 02/1999. Owned it for 7 years now and has 105K miles on it. The only maintainance that I did was oil change, breaks after 80,000 miles, and tires and wipers of course. I sat down and I calculated how much this car cost me in maintaiance so far including oil changes and tires, It came up to $1900 in seven years. Very realiable and smooth until now. I am keeping this car until it stops although I am doubtful that this will ever happen. I am planning to get 300K miles out of it.” (OVERALL RATING: 9 / 10)

2) “If you want the most dependable car in the world, this may be your best choice unless you tend to get bored easily due to the lack of certain excitements.” (OVERALL RATING: 9.6 /10)

3) This is an excellent vehicle. I purchased this car new 6 yrs ago, and have had no problems with it. Currently it has more than 250K miles, and still starts up, and drives like the day I bought it. My father in-law says it drives and runs better then his 2002 Honda Accord. Even the leather and all other interior materials have held up. Over all this has been an excellent vehicle and I hope to put on another 150K miles before I sell it. (OVERALL RATING: 10 /10)

4) Having owned this car for about six years, I can say that reliability is one of its greatest assets. It is a beautiful car with a silky smooth powertrain and a terrific ride! Seating comfort is another big plus, and even the rear seats are surprisingly comfortable on long trips. Overall, a luxury car without the ridiculous price tag! This is definitely the best car I've owned! (OVERALL RATING: 10 / 10)

5) Great power from the V6, excellent 4 speed AT, typical Toyota, everything works as advertised. reasonable gas mileage at 25mpg. Have used for nearly 4 years and 57K miles. (OVERALL RATING: 9.7 / 10)


Engine: FWD. V6 2995cc, Quad-Cam 24valves EFI. All aluminium cylinder head and block with bore/ stroke of 87.5/83mm and compression ratio 10.5:1

Max Power: 134kw DIN (183hp) @ 5200rpm
Max Torque: 267Nm@4400rpm

Gearbox: 4 speed Electronic auto transmission with torque converter and intelligent programming.

Front suspension: Independent McPherson struts and coil-springs, lower arms, stabilizer bar with sub-frame mounting. Rear suspension: McPherson. Dual link, damper, struts and coil springs, anti-roll barwith sub-frame mounting.

Wheels/tyres: 15” alloy/205/65R15
Brakes: Ventilated discs/drums with 4 channels and sensor ABS.
Length: 4760mm, Width: 1785mm, Height: 1420mm, Wheelbase: 2670mm.
Front and rear track: 1545mm and 1520mm
Ground clearance: 145mm. Weight: 1300kgs
Fuel tank cap: 70L

Top Speed: 210km/h, electrically limited (Australian regulations)
0-100km/h: 8.6 secs. (Tested)

PRICE and NOTE: RM165,000 NEW back in 1998. Today: RM58,000 average (or lower) for 1998 V6 3.0i 24v model. Freaking RARE in Malaysia. Often bought as Company car(s) as typical Malaysians are turned off by the high road tax (RM1300 est. P.A.), high fuel consumption perception (due to 3.0 V6). Think of it as Budget Lexus ES300 (Same Engine, Suspensions, Gearbox and Refinement but different Exterior and interior styling). Grab it if you found one. 100% Worth the money!

Standard Equipments:

Air Conditioning with Climate controlCruise Control

Elec Adj front seats (6 way driver seats) with lumbar support
Leather seats

Locks, Power Door withCOBRA Anti-theft systemCup Holders2x 12v Sockets (One lighter, one accessories)

Steering Wheel, 4 way adjustableWindows, Power (4x) with one touch driver Air Bags, Driver and Passenger SideChild Safety Seat AnchorsLocks, Child Safety

Rear 3 point seatbelts Kenwood, AM/FM with Cassette + 10 disc CD-Changer

“Secret Box” compartment (see picture above). Power steering5 pieces Alloy wheels with 205/65VR15 tyres

Woodgrain trim panels around the dashboard.

APPENDIX (23/10): This generation of Camry is sold in Malaysia between 1998 to early 2002. The estimated sales figures as follows: 2.2i: 14,000 units +/- (Averaged 280 units sold per month). The 3.0i is on sale from 1998 to 2000 only. During the facelift in 2000, the 3.0i model is dropped. Toyota imported about 600 units of the Camry 3.0i from Australia between 1998 to 2000. This means that around 95% of the Camry sold in Malaysia were of 2.2i model. Like I say, If you see a good used 3.0i V6 Camry on sale, GRAB IT!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

To New car dealers. Trade in price of old car matters...

In order to secure sales... Lowish trade in value often turned potential buyer off. Let me relate 2 case studies involving Hondas.

The first case study involved Honda and Toyota. Ever wonder why The New Vios outsold the City by 2:1 every month? Besides more aggressive marketing campaign (TV, Radio), sponsoring cars for Shell Fuel Economy Challenge, the MOST IMPORTANT reason is LOW Trade in of old cars for their new cars.

Case example, my Auntie was interested in fuel economical Compact family car. She wanted to trade in her Black 1999 Perdana V6 for a new car. She shortlisted her choice to City VTEC and Vios 1.5G as both within her budget. She prefer the more spacious City VTEC and wanted to buy, BUT and a BIG BUT, The Dealer offered RM32,000 only for her Perdana V6. She felt shocked over the LOW LOW trade in value. Next stop, UMW Toyota Showroom in Sec 19, P.J., The salesman in Toyota is Not only friendly but offered RM2000 Merdeka discount AND WAY HIGHER trade in value too. The dealer offered RM39,000 trade in price for her Perdana V6. To cut the story short, she ended up booking the Vios.

Case study 2: Ford and Honda. My friend is keen on buying a Compact SUV to replace his ageing 9 years old Toyota RAV4. He narrowed his choices to Ford Escape 2.3i and Honda CRV 2.0i. He visited both Ford and Honda Showrooms and test driven and compared both cars. The Escape wins on specifications (Leather, Large sunroof, electronic seats adjust, Bodykits, more powerful 2.3i engine from Mazda 6), and Price. His mind goes for the Ford, But being a fan of Honda, his heart goes for the CRV.

The problem is that Honda dealer don't know how to secure sales. Offered RM45,000 trade in price for the RAV4 with no discount (but offered 2 yrs free maintenence and V-Kool). In the end, he chose Ford. Why? Cash discount (He had chosen that over 0% Interest rates), 3 yrs warranty, RM55,000 trade in value for the RAV4. (that's 10,000 less + estimated RM8000 cash discount = RM18,000 less than CRV.

So Honda and other new car dealerships, the ball is on your side, buckle up and do something about your Trade in price of old cars before you lose your sales to your rivals... AND the the attitude (eg. friendly, prompt, helpful) of Sales Representative(s), Oh! And the financing as well especially the Interest rates and monthly repayments.