Sounds like you got a decent car at least, sorry to hear about the payments. If you got the V6 Camry, watch out, that car is thirsty, my grandma had a V6 Camry and while it performed well, revs over 2000 sucked down the dino-juice like it was going out of style.
Toyota is pretty decent though, my mom had a mid-'80s Cressida, early '80s Celica Supra (as mentioned above), and my grandma had an early '90s Camry that my father inherited. They're all pretty decent.
So, what an interesting thread to uncover with this timing in my life. But first some background... That Volvo 240GL wagon was mostly ok for a few years until its electrical harness started dying and we found out that Volvo refuses to support that wiring harness anymore, the excuse being "safety" -- thanks for the 18-year-old brick, jerks. Car simply stopped running over and over until it became hopeless, we left it in Pasadena for the night and donated it to charity the next day, naturally it started right up. We then got the aforementioned Olds 88 in like-new condition and that GM car was unreliable transportation, big in the wrong ways, an underpowered, heavy front-engine car, and all the GM plasticky crap and mildew problems eventually reared their heads... oh, and the GM computer-controlled suspension constantly was blowing its fuses, leaving it swaying on every start, stop, and turn on the road like a yacht on the high seas. That was the car I got my license in back in '07, as many of you know, but I inherited a Mazda MX-6 which was a dream to drive compared to the Olds, even though it was the underpowered 4-cyl. The Mazda needed a few repairs here and there, but the worst was when the shift solenoid died and required a whole new transmission, which I got. Then tragically it got slow-speed rear-ended twice in the course of 2 years, and the salvage title took away the last of the car's repair value, it's hard to upkeep something the state makes impossible to insure despite the damage being fairly minor in reality. And the final straw was the new transmission's first gear having a fraction of its regular torque and power when cold, that became a safety concern I couldn't take to Comic-Con and the plan was to scrape together as much as possible - $3k all told - to get something used but decent.
I invested $58 in a month of unlimited license-plate Carfax reports, and that paid for itself considerably, a lot of Craigslist and other ads had garbage cars that looked fine but weren't - some were salvages and rebuilds, some had liens and other title issues, some had failed smog over and over suggesting serious problems and possibly cheats, some had failed smog and never passed again. We spent a lot of anguish searching for cars, eventually giving up on the idea of a Dodge Intrepid (there had been a lot of them at the beginning of the search, but as soon as I was serious to buy, they dried up and then my mechanic said to avoid like the plague, get a Japanese car). I had changed focus to Camrys, there was one right where I grew up in Santa Monica but they didn't call me back on the voicemail I left, and when I called back after a busy weekend they had sold it the night before.
My mom found on Craigslist a Nissan Maxima that was within price range and age range (2000 or newer for me) and mileage range (under 15k per year) that happened to be right up the street from where I live, my sister lives, where my mom lived when I was born, where my grandma lived, where I went to school, etc. So we went and test drove it, checked it out, there were a few issues they didn't seem to know about, and the wife had beat the driver's side up a little using every surface of the car as edge-feelers, but overall it looked good. We haggled them down due to a few repair questions, and I bought it the next day after they were able to provide me with a new smog test.
So the 2000 Nissan Maxima GLE (luxury edition) V6 automatic with 222hp on a FWD is what I bought. It has leather interior (I don't care, but the fabric of my last car did deteriorate too quickly), CD/cassette Bose 200w sound system (stock), power windows and seats, automatic climate control with working AC, remote system with 2 remotes and 1 key (it came with 1 remote and 3 keys originally, who knows what happened there), automatic lights, and enough rear seat space to seat my 6' 7" step-father in comfort. The amount of horsepower on a front wheel drive car like this is ridiculous, it gets 0-60 of 6.6 seconds, top end is in the 140s, produces torque steer and wheelspin on power takeoffs. It looks pretty boring but it's a rocket with more speed than I can use with its very light steering feel and sedan vehicle height (that height creates a little body roll even with the suspension designed to handle this car). Its engine was named one of the top engines for its year sold in the US.
The negatives are that it's the Thirstymobile even on its best day, the sedan styling isn't aerodynamic enough, and then it turns out the very expensive oxygen sensor(s) are bad on it and the smog guy cleared that code to hide it so it's losing even more mileage. The remotes are a little fussy. The rear trunk light won't come on, and the sellers had car fluid bottles leak into the carpet and spare tire cover so the trunk required a lot of work. The aforementioned dents, including one at the TOP of the fender that broke the paint and now I'm not sure what to do - how do you gouge the TOP of a fender?!? I assume she backed into a hanging storage box or something along those lines.
I took it to my mechanic after getting it and he immediately sent me to get 2 new tires, they had mismatched tires on the car and 2 were bald. I knew this was going to happen, it came out of the haggling money we saved, and I bought 2 tires but got bad news on one of the good tires I saved, they had driven on it flat and cracked the sidewall, it was now a thing to look out for. I took the car back to the mechanic and left it overnight for a lookover. When I got it back the next day, he explained the oxy sensor issue which I can wait on until I need to get it smogged, and said it didn't need struts right away and the alignment wasn't bad, everything else looked good, so he wasn't charging me. I took those savings and put them into the other 2 tires, it was a matched set I had broken up and then put back together. :p
The blue book on the car is $1500 over what I put into it. And it is fun to drive despite looking boring, it fits more stuff and people more comfortably, it's decent. Right now, its name is "The Thirstymobile" though, nickname is "Rocket" because its light pedals on taking it home gave me a green light-takeoff tire screech BY ACCIDENT!
What I looked into wasn't just the expense of repairs (over $1500, often) but the fact that they tended to be temporary fixes for those people. That's never good.
But I'd prefer the peace of mind of a vehicle that odds are, will run properly. It has good MPG, too.
Yeah, when you buy GM, they're not so much repairs as they are band-aids, think of them as extended car payments. :p
Did you get the 4 cylinder Camry for that good mileage? I'm assuming you didn't get the hybrid or you would have mentioned it. And the V6 has middling mileage, not better than my old '93 Mazda, only 3mpg better than my Maxima and it's got more horsepower.
As far as I know, it's the 4-cylinder. I'd have considered the hybrid, but it wasn't available for the rebates I got. Now, with less gas taxes being paid, some states want to make it even more expensive to buy "green" vehicles.
Some of those "green" vehicles are worse for the environment. Not only are the materials used to make their batteries very bad for the environment, but most of the electricity currently used in many areas is coal... including here in SoCal. So it's not all sunshine and smiles with hybrid cars, there's a hidden impact.
All I test drove were 4 cylinders. I told him I didn't want a 6, nor a red or black color.
Well, here are my copilots (along with God... and my guardian angel... and Chuck Yeager... and Large Marge... and Roger Murdock [NOT Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who only tries in the playoffs]... :D ) of said new car. What's that flashing? :wristslap: