Since 1983, when we saw the first Toyota Camry on U.S. soil, I am positive I never used the words Camry and exciting in the same sentence. Well, that has all changed with the introduction of the all-new 2018 Camry.
When I say all new, it is new from the ground up. In fact, the only thing that didn’t change was the Toyota logo on the grill.
There are 3 power train choices for 2018. You can get a 4-cylinder putting out just over 200-horses, there is a hybrid version, and finally you can get what my pre-production review car has, the 3.5-liter V6 that is putting out 301-horses and 267 pound-feet of torque.
All 2018 Camrys come with an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted from the gear shifter in the center console. Gone is the Toyota CVT.
New 18” wheels look terrific.
From the outside, the new Camry is longer, lower, and wider, giving it a more aggressive stance. The windshield slopes back at a steeper angle, and the roofline is more dramatic, giving Camry a fastback look from the side. New 18” wheels look terrific. My favorite angle is from the rear with wraparound lights and dual exhaust.
I think the front view with the large, angular grill will be a bit surprising to some. I personally like it, and so I expect some pushback from previous Camry owners, but I also expect it won’t be an issue once they drive the car. There are three different front grills depending on which trim you choose.
The new Camry comes in five trim levels. The base is the L model and it has a starting price of just $23,495. From there you go up to the LE, the SE, the super-sporty XSE, and the top-of-the-line XLE, which is what I am reviewing in a new color called Wind Chill Pearl.
As you open the door to enter the 2018 Camry, you are struck by how well laid out and inviting the interior is. This XLE comes with two-tone leather seating. Wood grain and aluminum surround the dash, and stitching can be found on the dash and door panels.
As you open the door to enter the 2018 Camry, you are struck by how well laid out and inviting the interior is.
As you look through the steering wheel that has controls on it, you see a large tachometer on the left, speedometer on the right and an easy to read multi-information center in the middle.
The information center, operated from the steering wheel, allows you to scroll through for fuel economy info, driving support, audio info, safety system status, and more. Across the top of the readout you can see which safety systems are on, a digital speedometer, outside temperature, and it will tell you which drive mode you are in.
If you look through the windshield you will find a terrific heads-up display. To the left of the steering column, you’ll find buttons to turn on the auto high beam system, turn off the traction control, change your backup camera view, pop the trunk, and open the gas flap. Under that row of buttons is a handy little open out cubbyhole.
The center console has a couple of cup holders, the gear shifter, and a button for the electronic emergency brake, a built-in cell phone charger, and you can choose from Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. Also, there is one of my favorite features, a hold button that allows you to take your foot off the brake when you stop. As soon as you touch the gas pedal, it releases. Just above that is a USB port and power outlet. It’s a nice touch to cover those with flip up covers.
In the center of the dash are knobs to control the inside temperature and knobs for volume and tuning the radio. These surround the Toyota Entune system that is operated by touch and is super-intuitive.
Headroom is really good and back seat room is exceptional.
This is where you operate the 9-speaker JBL Audio, navigation system, Bluetooth, Siri eyes-free, and the App Suite. Apps include Pandora, Yelp, iHeartRadio, Slacker radio and you can get real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports score, and current stock prices. All in all, this is one of the best infotainment systems available.
Headroom is really good, even with the huge, blacked out dual pane sunroof, and back seat room is exceptional, even for people well over 6-feet tall. This is a very comfortable car for five adults, and you get a large 15.1 cubic-feet of trunk room.
Just about everything you see are standard no charge features on the XLE. This includes the rear camera, radar cruise control, keyless entry, lane departure alert, pre-collision system, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
This vehicle only has a few options. The Audio package gives you the JBL audio, navigation, and wireless charger. The power sunroof is optional, as is the Driver Assist package which gives you the heads-up display and an upgraded rear camera.
The ride is much improved, much like a luxury car.
This 8th-generation Camry handles great, and thanks to the new double wishbone suspension, the ride is much improved, much like a luxury car. The driving dynamics of the car change greatly between the three drive modes, and yes, I’ll use the word exciting when in Sport mode. Camry exhaust even sounds good! It is very quiet inside, too.
Fuel economy is good for a 300-horse vehicle, the V6 is rated at 22 city, 33 highway, and 26 combined. You also get 2 years of free maintenance.
As Toyota is famous for, they built a whole new car without a huge price increase. MSRP on my tester is $34,400 as you see it, and that’s an outstanding value.
As an automotive journalist, I watch sales numbers closely. Camry has been the #1 selling car for 14 straight years, and with this new Camry, there is no doubt that 15 is in the bag.