Camry generation benchmark discussions: gen 3 vs gen 8

Reaction score
Well I can't resist posting my own thread. This forum looks so refreshingly knowledgeable and objective. I've been lurking for a while. I met Carmaker1 on club Lexus awhile back when I introduced myself as a mechanical engineering student and I ended up doing my senior thesis in ECOcar3 for the Colorado State University powerhouse institute engines and energy lab.

I am currently doing my second B.S in computer engineering at csu ft Collins. I'm into Adas, MOST and other controls stuff. Anyways, I've lurked enough and seen regular contributions from Carmaker1 and possibly some others with some engineering and actual industry knowledge.

I'm pretty much fed up with mainstream media like car and driver, motor trend, Jalopnik, redline reviews, anything other than IEEE SAE intl and Automotive News. Not to offend but the journalists keep acting as experts and with their communications degrees typically are wrong on 90 percent of the stuff I read. I suffered through the intensity of mechanical engineering school that reading those articles literally offend me.

That's why I'm here. I'm here to talk with people who actually know cars.

I saw a thread over the new 2018 Camry development. And man when those cars hit the streets, the front fascia of the xse coming at you really mesmorized me. Few cars of any price range has done that for me.

I read Carmaker1 and Gecko mention that the new 2018 Camry was Toyotas internal vision of retro interpretation of the 1992. I own a 1992 Camry xle now equipped with a leather swap in midnight blue. I bought a parts car for 600 dollars that had the rare leather and gathered leather door cards. I also installed some Ls400 walnut switchgear housings. I had to use alittle super glue for it to hold. I know kinda redneck mod haha.

So the new Camry certainly looks incredible I'd say. But what I'm wondering is- how does it compare to the engineering and build quality of a 1992 Gen 3 sxv10? From my extensive research the gen 3 was a unicorn of it's segment. In many ways it wasn't even a midsize family sedan. It took the GD&T tolerances, CMM standards and metallurgy developed for the Ls400. It also adopted many NVH techniques from the Ls400 like the flush windows and resin core metal layering. In engineering they force you to learn calculus because of the definition of a limit and the epsilon range is used in specifying tolerance allowance.

While the gen 3 and ls400 both look mundane and dated today, I wonder if the 1992 Camry debuted with a similar reaction for it's time.

However, does the 2018 match the 1992 in terms of over engineering? The sheet metal thickness, rust prevention, upholstery feel and noise we're jaw dropping at the time. I sat in a 2018 at a dealership. While nice, I didn't feel like the materials were as high end. One thing that impressed me about my old 92 is that my neighbor and friend has a BMW and Benz amg c63, and even after stepping out of those cars, the Camry still impresses me.


Staff member
Reaction score
I think the comparison would be with the hybrid. The Camry hybrid offers tech and mpg that is honestly incredible. They seem to be overlooked compared to the V-6 SE XSE.

IMO this is the first Camry since the 92-96 version that I would drive and own. It’s not a Lexus but it certainly feels better than most in this class.

Time will tell how well it holds up.


Reaction score
Yeah, I had said in a "few days", but yeah things do happen. Anyway...

I remember reading that as work was wrapping on the new V20 Camry in 1986 (in development since mid-1982, styled to 1984), Toyota was already rushing to put into development the V20's replacement, intended for a 1990 launch. I can't recall all the details, but by the end of 1987, Toyota was going full force with so many projects.

By Christmas 1987, at Toyota you had finishing touches being applied to the X80 Cressida and new pickups, final designs of the second generation MR-2 being made into prototypes, the 4Runner, all-new FJ80 Land Cruiser, Previa minivan, 1990 Celica coupe, and Lexus LS 400 also at that stage already.

The future was very bright, despite the October 19, 1987 market crash. All those decisions made in 1983-1986, would just have to hold and pull through. Much of 1987, was getting Lexus the brand into development and no longer just one car. An entry level sedan, mid-level RWD Mercedes 300 and BMW 5 (E34) competitor, Mercedes 560SL and 560SEC competitor were now on the docket.

By the end of 1987, a revised version of the JDM Camry Prominent was fully designed as a stop-gap offering and ready for production in mid-1989 alongside the F1 flagship car. This car had been ordered at the beginning of 1987, to ensure that a Legend competitor served the needs of customers looking for FWD, in case they were put off by the RWD aspect of the LS and as well as all know, to not leave the LS by itself in the showroom come 1989.

Also ordered, ironically PARALLEL to the 1990 ES 250, was a new sedan based on a wider and enhanced version of the new V30 FWD platform due in mid-1990. This was to be the originally intended ES, to the point some Lexus personnel have almost considered the 1992 ES 300, the true FIRST generation ES. However, there was no way this car would launch within the first 6 months of Lexus and it would senseless to hold the LS for another 6-12 months, to ensure the FWD model would ready in time, so a stop-gap sufficed.

Most importantly in the midst of this, by the beginning of 1988, the V30 Camry program had concluded styling efforts of the 1991 model year Camry and were prepared to do a V20 facelift in Q1 1989 for the 1989 model year in N. Amer and launch the replacement car by early 1991. Resources were now being shifted to production development, of the final concept reached by various early teams.

What I've heard is, in the early months of 1988, Toyota USA executives ordered revisions of the V30 clay model shown to them and within 6 weeks, saw the clay model they desired. The idea resulted in putting the export Camry, on the platform of the future XV10 Lexus FWD model, itself adapted and modified from the V30 Camry due in 1990. This resulted in a change from 1991 model year Camry redesign, to the 1992 model year and the staggered launch of several model variants, such as the SE performance model and Camry Wagon into CY 1992, plus coupe in August 1993.

The delays resulted in the 1989 MY cars going without changes (despite new Kentucky plant being timed for mid-cycle V20 changes originally) and being withheld until MY 1990 in 1989, unlike that of the JDM model getting updates in mid-1988. By the end of 1988, both the XV10 Camry and Lexus ES team, had crafted two very forward thinking vehicles, that wouldn't see light of day until 3 years later in late 1991 as 1992 models.

The ES had its own unique styling elements, only sharing some contours with the LS and taillight cluster design. The new Camry, an entirely different car than the modestly styled 1990 refresh V20 (not yet unveiled at the time), even just simply a clay model, clearly borrowed from Toyota's upcoming S140 Crown (also due 1991) and that of the big LS 400 intended for the Lexus brand. At the time in 1988, Toyota just knew they were going make this car a force to be reckoned with and turn the segment upside down in just 3 years, much like the Ford Taurus had done in 1985-86. By the end of 1991, the car made its debut and the engineering targets set, were more than met in spite of a now ensuing Japanese market crash.

Ford and Chrysler, not to mention even GM were gobsmacked at how Toyota to fit so much into a midsize car meant for middle class Americans, that Ford spent $3 billion trying to counteract that with their DN-101 Taurus and ended up being forced to leverage their DN101 well into 2006. Toyota spent roughly $700 million minimum on the XV10 Camry itself, not including some other expenses involved it. The XV20 by comparison, allegedly cost less than half the amount. To be fair, the XV20 reused the XV10's platform, which did not get replaced until 2001 with the K platform XV30 Camry.

I would like to describe some more technical aspects at a later time regarding the XV10 and XV20 development, but I'm a bit tied up much of time nowadays and some of that is a bit fuzzy. Particularly the targets made by XV10 team leaders between 1986-1988 and executed between 1988 and 1991.
Reaction score
Thanks for the reply none the less Carmaker1, always appreciate your insight and engineering mentorship as you have much more experience than my 26 year old self can yet gain.

One thing that popped into my mind I wanted to ask you was that I once read on another forum that the 1992 Camry even impressed BMW to the point they had to benchmark it just to understand how Toyota engineered such a car for a mid segment market. I also read that the car would really be like a 45k car even in 1992 if the currency bouble of the Japanese market wasn't in the favor. I am not sure if these remarks are true which is why I'm asking you.

On that note, the car's large dimensions, while about 4.5 percent scaled down from the slightly larger Ls400 was nearly identical to the BMW e39 5 series. I had a conversation with a guy who actually was in Germany and he told me he witnessed how thoughtful many of the engineers were to benchmark the competition. I wonder if BMW actually took notes of the xv10 on stuff like body stamping, complex curves like the hood creases and such and used it to help shape the e39, as the dimensions are so mirrored and they have some similar design elements. Of course BMW e39 is generally a much better handling rwd performance saloon. But I do wonder if BMW could have gained insight from the revolutionary standards in body formation and tolerances from Toyota, then used their leading Dynamics engineering to form the e39. Also interesting to think about since Toyotas and lexuses ended up using the bangle butt as Chris bangle used the 2006 camry to defend his own design saying it's being implemented on a best seller which was validating to him during controversy. Also cool to think of now as we see the collaboration in the new supra, also controversial!
Reaction score
Also find it interesting and almost ironic that I always thought the xv10 Camry had an overall body shape and thick c pillar and stouter framed windows that made it resemble the Ls400 than the Es300, almost as if the badging should be flipped. However I find the Es300 the downright most gorgeous and seductive, it's got a flowing organic form much like the SC coupe. I'm not a fan of the way they did the door cards though, which look, again ironically, less luxurious than the top trim Camry door cards. Mine has gathered leather too.


Premium Member
Reaction score
We will never see the sort of over-engineering that happened in the Bubble Era. They had infinite cash back then; many of the programs will not be feasible in today's economy.
It's more complicated than that. There were some bad models released during the Bubble Era. Not everything was overbuilt to a legendary degree. Having tons of cash isn't all there is to it. Ingenuity, making maximum use of that cash, and the sheer will to innovate are also all important things.

I would also never say never. Who knows what the future may hold.