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Replacing '96 Camry

Hello, my '96 Camry will soon reach 350K miles. We are retired and seeking recommendations for a replacement.

Our parameters: fit in the garage - so no larger than the Camry, something comfy for extended travel, peppy (gasoline) engine for mountain driving, reliable, good looking (front end on new Camry is just ugly), a trunk or secure luggage area.

As you may guess, we do take good care of our cars. We are the original owners. I’d keep the Camry but as peppy as it is on the straightaway it wasn’t so in the Sierra Nevada. We are also looking forward to cruise control, USB connections, backup cameras and other safety features.

Thank you!!

If I got 350,000 out of a car I liked but didn’t like the look of the new model, I would probab;y look for a used one of the newest model I liked. If you wany more pep. look for a V6.


This is rude but if you read the threads where someone has asked what vehicle they should buy it is a waste of time. We all have our biased opinions. Many times they end up buying something that was not even mentioned.

Get the issue of Consumer Guide that has all vehicles sold and find the ones you want try. You can also use the build it yourself feature most brands have on the web.

EDIT: Several years ago I went through the Consumer new vehicle issue and drew a line through the ones that: to high a price, would not be seen in, did not have features I wanted, no close dealer support and would not function to suit our needs. I ended up with 12 vehicles to look at.


How about a new Civic?

It’s probably no smaller than the 1996 Camry, if not actually bigger

It’s got all those features you mentioned, and then some

Any new car in the same size class as a Camry will be bigger than yours, so that rules out Camry, Accord, Sonata, Malibu, Fusion, etc.

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I would still get a Camry or a Corolla; when you sit inside you don’t see the front!

I don’t like the styling of the 2015 & newer Camry but recently had one as a rental for a week and kinda got used to it.

Check the Sonata out but even though I own one I don’t think you can drive it to 350K miles.

If good power in the mountains is important then a turbo engine is a plus. The new Civic with the turbo 4 would be worth a look.

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Toyota’s have grown substantially since 1996. Look at the Mazda3 in addition to the Civic and see if they work for you. If you like want you see on line, then go for a test drive. You don’t have to be ready to buy for a test drive, and you might make that clear when you walk into the dealership.

i know a few people that recently got Subuaru cars in the last year or so. they are around same size as Camry and have good pickup and power. I am actually surprised that a four cylinder has so much power and runs so good.

[quote=“Hollywood1974, post:8, topic:99136”]
I am actually surprised that a four cylinder has so much power and runs so good.

And where have you been for last 10 years?

I would look at a new Mazda 6 which is peppy with either 4 or 6 cylinder and fun to drive. A Mazda 3 would do as well, but rides a little harder. Alternate choices would be a Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte…

If you are interested in very long trouble-free life, avoid any vehicle with a CVT transmission.

I agree, having a 15 Forester without turbo. The CVT helps a lot. It’s very roomy inside and the seats are great. However, it is noisy inside… you have to test drive one to see if the noise is too high a level.

I wholeheartedly agree. As Volvo’s post says, we’re all biased.
Get a Consumer Reports New Car Preview and the local bookstore, circle the ones you like, and enjoy test driving them. I can tell you what I’d get, but that doesn’t mean you’d like it. :grin:

Didn’t anybody understand the part where OP said his next car should be no bigger than his current car, the 1996 Camry

That rules out the current Camry and Mazda 6

My mom was in a similar situation, when she wanted another car . . . a 2-3 year old used car

She initially said she wanted something no bigger than her old car

We did test drive some nicely equipped cars, which WERE somewhat bigger than her old car, and she felt uncomfortable. She doesn’t even feel comfortable driving my 2005 Camry, which isn’t very big, as far as cars go

At that point we immediately stopped looking at mid-sized cars

In the end, we went with a near top of the line Civic, which was 2 years old at the time, and had all the bells and whistles she wanted, plus all those safety features which OP mentioned. In fact, it had some features which the comparable Corolla didn’t even offer as an option


Just as I wouldn’t want someone to choose what I eat for dinner, I wouldn’t want someone to tell me what type of car I should buy.
Individual tastes differ to a huge extent, as do things like how one perceives the comfort of a car’s seating.
As the old saying tells us, One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

The only logical way to approach the situation, as was already suggested, is to buy that CR New Car Buyer’s Guide, and use that publication to narrow-down the possibilities before visiting dealerships and taking test drives. And…don’t forget to “test” how well any prospective new cars will fit into your garage!

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I would not buy a Mazda3 or Civic, yet I suggested the OP look at them because thy met the criteria in the first message. I see naming cars as a place to start, not telling them what to buy.

Exactly my thinking. I would measure the space in the garage and then determine from the specs brochure which car would actually fit. I’m assuming that is OP’s criteria for choosing size.

We once had two large cars in our garage and it was a little tight; now we have 2 compact size vehicles and have oodles of room to park our bikes as well.

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Retired couple that likes the mountains? I’m seeing a Rav 4 in your future. The only problem might be how easy it is to get in and out of. Give it a test drive anyway.


This is actually the best suggestion yet, in my view as another retired person who wanted comfort, electronic safety stuff, and didn’t want a great big car. We ended up with a Honda CR-V, but a RAV-4 or a Mazda CX-5 are fine choices, and they are very good for “older folks” who value easy in and out, easy loading, and easy parking.

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@cjmoss1, you may or may not have experience driving any current newer model vehicles, such as rentals. If you have not, be prepared to find what initially will seem a startling difference between your '96 Camry versus any and all newer vehicles of the past few years.

In addition to using Consumer Reports new car buying guide and online research, be prepared to do lots of test driving. You may find that after initial test drives you will need to look over the specs again and then go for additional rounds of test drives as you become familiar with the features and feel of current model cars and sync those experiences with what is written about the cars.

I went through just such a few years ago when replacing a twenty year old car.


We grease the Camry to park in beside the Tundra. Let passengers out before pulling in then squeezing out. Rented a 2 door a few years ago, the door was too long to open in the garage.

Thanks for your reply.