As a word of caution, some states with CARB regulations (or similar laws) such as CA have stipulations (or ban such engine swaps), even if it’s compatible. In these states, the general consensus is the engine needs to be the same model year (or newer) and will apply to most CARB states. In some cases, it may apply to states with CARB derived laws. Disregard this for off-road use but it’s a Camry so I am assuming you want to keep it road legal.
It’s not likely to work. The engines from each generation have significant differences (transmission mount and engine code) so heavy modifications to do the swap are required (if it’s even possible at all).
These are the engines offered for your model range of Camry (VX-10) are:
- 2.2 L 5S-FE I4
- 3.0 L 3VZ-FE V6
- 3.0 L 1MZ-FE V6
- Toyota E153 5MT (Possibly manufactured by Aisin)
- Aisin A140E 4-speed automatic
- Aisin A540/541E 5-speed automatic
The engines in the year you want to swap to (VX-20) are:
- 2.2 L I4 5S-FE
- 3.0 L V6 1MZ-FE
- Toyota S51 5MT (Possibly manufactured by Aisin)
- Aisin A140E 4-speed automatic
- Aisin A451E 5-speed automatic
The transmission models appear to match (with the removal of the A540 for the VX-20), so you may need to install one of the 3 transmissions from the VX-20 if you have the A540 installed. In addition, the other issue is more to do with tuning (which will need to be redone completely) and emissions. If you have to get the manual, you’ll need to use MTF (no more ATF), install a clutch pedal and other parts needed to convert it over to manual. IN ADDITION, you will need to delete the computer used by the automatic transmission (or use manual transmission programming if the ECU handles shifting). It just depends on the manufacturer and specific vehicle how they do it, since many “drivers cars” are typically sold with a stick and it’s easier to make a module deleteable if someone orders it that way. The Camry is not, so it may lie within the ECU.
On top of the need for components like the transmission and exhaust manifold (these probably won’t carry from the VX-10 stock configuration), you will need the VX-20 exhaust to replace the VX-10 one. This is mainly for compatibility and emissions compliance. However, you can buy cats and cut the original exhaust if you want to do that (you may need CARB certified cats in some states). That said, it’s generally cheaper to buy a used OEM exhaust with the correct cats already there. The gotcha is many 90’s cars came with a CARB option for these states, so if you have to deal with CARB find out which one of the two is CARB compliant. This is less of an issue on 2000’s models, as CARB compliance is typically standard for all 50 states so you don’t need to modify it if you move now.
Once you do the mechanical swap, you will need a virgin ECU that has NEVER been programmed. Pre-2002 Toyota ECU’s use a WORM (write once read many) EEPROM and you will need the tune file from a VX-20 Camry for it to run right since you’re effectively putting VX-20 hardware in. You will also need to pair the immobilizer with the new ECU, since the car will not start until this is done. You need an expensive tool or a mobile tech for this.
The killer issue is you will need to retrofit OBDII into your car. 1996-present use it natively (as it was required by 1996) and you’re 1 MY too young for this to be the case with yours :(. Toyota used M-OBD in your car. If you didn’t have a 1995, you wouldn’t have to do the OBDII conversion. This is NOT a negotiable thing as the VX-20 is well into OBDII age. Other then wiring, you’ll need to change the Toyota DCL3 connector to a SAE J1962 Female. Please note I am referring to the US switch (in other words, USDM), so it may be different for you.
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