2018 Toyota Camry – The Best Selling Car in the USA Reborn
I will fully admit I’ve never been a fan of the Toyota Camry. It always lacked a few key things for me, not the least of which was any sort of emotional content. The word appliance comes to mind, just there to service a need like your washer/dryer. When you consider that most people buy a car to simply get from one place to another, maybe it’s no wonder that Camry has been the best-selling car in the USA for the last 15 years straight. Even so, I’ve never really warmed to the idea of soul-less transportation like this, when other more engaging cars can be had for the same price, with the same reliability, warranty and fuel mileage. More than anything, familiarity is what brings people back to Camry. The ‘last one worked just fine’ mentality combined with a lack of desire to shop around make it an easy choice.
New for 2018, that choice may actually start making sense even to me. The newly-redesigned Camry, especially in the highly-optioned XSE version we drove, is the best-looking one yet. There’s a real energy to the design that’s never been there before. The bold Toyota/Lexus front-grill design language works here since the Camry-specific chevron design tempers the wide-mouth oddity of the corporate look. There’s some purposeful-looking vents and aerodynamic elements, and a sloping D-pillar that leads to a very sleek overall shape. The design is all new on the inside too, with a slightly odd and out-of-place triangle-shaped center stack flanked by nice materials and good execution.
Each time we poke around a Toyota, and even a Lexus product, we find something plastic hiding in the lower door cards, or lower regions of the dash. The new Camry is pretty solid, with just a few cheaper areas showing through. For us, if you’re going to spring for the top-line V6 XSE with options like our test car, you’re looking at a $38k price tag. The fit and finish definitely start to matter more. While that certainly sounds expensive for a Camry, there’s some serious content there – with navigation, premium audio, a full suite of active-safety measures and the silky smooth 301hp 3.5-Liter V6. It’s actually properly quick once it gets traction – and that’s a lot of power for a front-wheel drive platform.
Whether planned or not, its big competitor Honda is releasing its all-new Accord at the same time. They have gone a different route than Toyota, going for a 2.0-Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder instead of the big V6. The result is a little less power on paper, but a wider powerband and similar acceleration numbers. I have to say the sound that this Toyota V6 puts out would have to sway me a bit in deciding; it’s a silky-smooth powerplant. Coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission, it gets 22-city and 32-highway MPG. We mainly drove it in the city, and were having so much fun with the torquey V6 that we averaged around 20mpg, although we have no doubt with normal driving it will hit its rated numbers.
Two other powertrains will be available, a 2.5-Liter normally aspirated 4-cylinder with 203hp, and a hybrid combo using a less-powerful version of the 4-cylinder, coupled with a 118hp electric motor. The combined 208hp output makes for okay performance, but stellar 51-city and 53-highway MPG. Still, the V6 has us coming around to this new Camry, as the fun-factor is something that’s always been missing.
Technically speaking there’s plenty of features in the infotainment system, with connectivity for Android and Apple smartphones, and the aforementioned safety features. You do notice the lane alert and blind-spot monitors are a little more sensitive than we’d really like, which might lead some people to turn them off. Overall, however, there’s lots of content packed into this new Camry, and that, coupled with the bold new design and fun-to-drive dynamics, and it might be enough to keep the best-selling streak alive. I never thought I’d say this, but I really like the new Camry!