5 More Exciting Used Car Alternatives to the Boring 2004 Toyota Camry

The 2004 Toyota Camry is one of the best values for an inexpensive, dependable, and functional used car in today’s market. But honestly, it’s also one of the most boring choices compared to the competition. So let’s look at five more exciting used cars

That Toyota Camry Hybrid and its lifespan are sensible choices for potential owners.
Toyota Camry Hybrid | Stan Honda, AFP via Getty Images

2005 Chrysler 300

Chrysler introduced the 300 in 2005, so there’s not a 2004 model to evaluate, but, by now, there’s not much of a price difference between model years anyway, making it a fair comparison. 

While the 2005 Chrysler 300 features engine options with similar horsepower ratings as the 2004 Camry, the 300C model with its 340-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is more powerful than any production 2004 Camry, but with a higher price tag. 

However, it’s not horsepower that makes the Chrysler 300 more exciting than the 2004 Camry. Instead, the 300’s advantages include its spacious cabin, available leather upholstery, superior trunk space, and Mercedes-Benz E-class derived suspension system that delivers solid handling and a quiet ride. 

2005 Chevy Malibu 

Since 2004 was a redesign year for the Chevy Malibu, we’d opt for the 2005 Malibu to avoid any kinks the new model needs to work out. But, again, much like the Chrysler 300, the Malibu isn’t a powerhouse compared to the Camry. 

So, while a drag race between a Malibu and a Camry offers close competition with the bonus of being able to get plenty of pictures as they make their way ever so slowly to the finish line, the Malibu is more exciting in other ways. 

Autoblog says that Chevy engineers tuned the Malibu’s suspension to a firmness between the Camry’s softness and the Honda Accord’s stiffness. Overall, the V6 Malibu’s acceleration and “crisp” handling on curvy roads surprised Autoblog reviewers. 

However, like the Camry, its exterior is dull, although improved from previous generations. 

2004 Mazda6 

The 2004 Mazda6 features horsepower, size, and price comparable to the 2004 Camry. However, it’s more exciting because of its crisp handling, a feature in many Mazda models, its upscale interior, and the available hatchback model.

Edmunds raves the 2004 Mazda6 will “add a dash of zing to your daily commute” if you’re “tired of the dull, sensible, vanilla-flavored family car.”

Autoblog says the Mazda6 leads the midsize with its sporty appearance, handling, and driving dynamics. While it has similar power and size to the Camry, it’s “lighter on its feet and stops quicker.” The review also calls it a “better driver’s car.”

2004 Nissan Altima

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The 2004 Nissan Altima came off of a 2002 redesign “much larger than the previous generation model,” according to Autoblog. While priced competitively with the Camry, the larger Altima features an available 245-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, comfortable rear seating, a big trunk, and bold exterior styling. 

As a result, Autoblog reviewers call the Altima 3.5 SE “one of the hottest cars in its class,” based on its “stunning acceleration, nimble handling, and brakes to match” the car’s thrust. 

In base trim, however, the Altima features a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission. While those numbers are comparable to the Camry, the Altima’s superior styling and roomier interior make it appealing to families and singles alike.

2004 Volkswagen Passat

While more expensive than the Camry when new, the 2004 Volkswagen Passat featured a 270-hp 4.0-liter eight-cylinder engine at its highest level that eclipses anything in the Camry lineup. 

However, most Passat models have similar power, styling, and interior space except for the Passat five-door wagon. In addition, some Passat models feature all-wheel drive and a turbo-diesel engine that makes 247 lb-ft of torque to add excitement to the lineup.