2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 Update: Make It 13 Winters and 347,000 Miles

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2004 toyota camry le v6 update make it 13 winters and 347 000 miles

Is this the best car in the world?

Not necessarily this car, but the 2002-2006 XV30-generation Toyota Camry in general. Is this Camry better than all the rest?

It doesn’t handle like a modern Mazda 6, doesn’t stop as well as a modern F-150, doesn’t have the perceived interior quality or features of a modern Honda Fit, and has suffered greatly from the effects of alloy wheel corrosion over the last winter.

But the 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 we told you about last fall just made its way through another harsh, Prince Edward Island winter. Another 7,000 miles were smeared across its odometer. One trip was taken all the way from Prince Edward Island to Toronto; another from Prince Edward Island to Hamilton, Ontario, and another from Prince Edward Island to Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

Credit a single oil change.

This 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6, owned by my in-laws, is one of two cars in their fleet. Their 2013 Hyundai Elantra is presumably the safer long-distance choice: theoretically more reliable, somewhat more fuel-efficient, blessed with SiriusXM and heated leather.

But on the pre-Christmas trip to Toronto, a larger trunk to haul gifts for numerous grandchildren was deemed necessary. Call up the 12-year-old Camry — 340,000 miles under its belt — for an early winter trip across great swathes of Canadian landscape, not the Elantra. Was there any reason to doubt the Camry would return my mother- and father-in-law home to Prince Edward Island (for actual Christmas with their favored grandchildren: my kids) without a glitch, a hiccup, or an ailment?

The Camry wasn’t called upon for much service while resident in Prince Edward Island, but my father-in-law’s solo trip back to Ontario (and back again to PEI) in the dead of winter likewise went off without a hitch. Was there any reason to believe it wouldn’t?

But that wasn’t nearly enough of a test for the Camry in its 13th winter, with roughly 342,000 miles displayed on its odometer. So with a ski trip planned in Mont Tremblant, my parents-in-law were forced — forced I tell you — to take the Camry to Quebec because the snowboard owned by their son who they’d be meeting there “fits better in the Camry.”

Mind you, it fits in the Elantra, too. But it fits better in the Camry, they say.

Which I believe is code for, “We would rather take the 210-horsepower V6.”

The Camry was back home in Prince Edward Island again this weekend. Having collected the weight of many months’ worth of salty highways, my father-in-law finally decided to wash it Saturday night before he once again drove the Camry out of province on Sunday. Clean inside, the Camry’s greying grey paint does a decent job of camouflaging the exterior filth. Sort of.

I drove the Camry extensively on Saturday. Less than a mile into our latest Camry experience, I was boring my wife with praise of the buttery smooth and shockingly lusty V6. But that was nothing compared to the shift quality of the five-speed automatic, which — 13 years since production — is so very much in its groove that upshifts are more easily defined as scrolls than shifts; that downshifts are only enacted once gears can be cradled by Tempur-Pedic mattresses.

Apart from an early winter oil change, the Camry has gone without maintenance. But if my wife’s parents are determined to see this car through another PEI summer and another PEI winter, the Camry will need some work done soon.

I’m no Bozi Tatarevic, capable of identifying sounds via TTAC Slack chat onomatopoeia, but I’m hearing the distinct tenor of a failed tie rod end.

Yet at more than 347,000 miles, having endured some of the continent’s harsher conditions and never having been granted the privilege of living a garage queen’s lifestyle, an oil change and a tie rod end are surely a fair price to pay for another winter.

This 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 is not the best car in the world. No Honda Odyssey-owning, Mazda MX-5-loving soul could say so.

But in the words of TTAC’s Camry-lauding Steph Willems, “Imagine buying that car new, knowing what awaits.”

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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5 of 58 comments
  • Halftruth Halftruth on Mar 27, 2017

    I love the thought of high mileage vehicles that keep keepin on.. One thing that seems to be a constant (be it domestic or foreign) is the frequency with which the vehicles are used. This one, with 347k over 13 years indicates a higher than average annual mileage of 28-ish K. I think that helps. A friend who owned a limo business years ago, used to run 90s era Lincolns well into the 300s with reg maintenance.

    • See 2 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Mar 27, 2017

      "the frequency with which the vehicles are used. " I have a 1989 Camry V6 as my daily driver, and it still runs great! It's been a daily driver for 'someone' since it was bought in 1989.

  • Arcuri Arcuri on Mar 27, 2017

    Just passed 340,000 miles on my 2000 Protege. Tie rods need to be replaced. Radiator sprung a leak at 260,000. Pass side Caliper, Cam position sensor, drivers door window regulator, and an alternator. That's it ! It's been in humid S Florida it's whole life. Every winter I take her to Central Ny state. For a week. She averages aprox 28 mpg highway. She'll do 115 mph. It takes a while.

  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.
  • El scotto Pondering if he has a clean brandy snifter. Well but, ah, I mean the original Grand Wagoneer was fully loaded and had a V-8. The original Grand Wagoneer had an almost cult-like following with a certain type of woman. Attractive, educated high earning women; or those that put on the appearances of being that way.Our esteemed HerR DOKtor Perfessor again shows how ignorant he is of the American market. What he deems "bread-vans on stilts" are highly coveted by significant others that are also highly coveted. The new Grand Cherokee with the new well engineered V-6 will sell as well as the ones from the 80s some of us get wistful over. The only real question will be: LL Bean or Orvis edition?
  • El scotto Well, I've had cats that are smarted than a great many members of congress. I rather doubt that any of the congresspeople Matt named are engineers, finance people or project managers. Ya know, professionals you call in to get a job done.Today is Wednesday, this will be out of the 36 hour news cycle by Friday. Oh it might get mentioned again on OCT 6. Unless there are cute animals to put on TV that day.
  • El scotto Oh My Good Lord Yes! Gents, this is a Caddy that carries on the soul of Caddy. Loud, brash, and apologetically American. Also large and in charge and one of GM's best evah engines. What used to be a flash roll is now bottle service.Can't deal with that reality? There are plenty of excellent SUVs/CUVs on the market. I'm a former Escape owner. The Escape was a sensible lil CUV, this Caddy is just way over the top.Canyon carver? Not a chance, this is based on a Silverado frame. Easy to park? Toss the valet the keys. Will some of the other high-end SUVs have better "soft touch" materials that make car journalist get tingly all over? Of course.This Caddy is designed to eat up huge and I mean huge amounts of American interstate miles. Four people and their luggage? Easily.
  • Miguel I have a Mitsubishi Diamante VRX 2003,and I think this is one of the luxury and sport car.