- New styling no longer bland
- Driving enjoyment highlighted
- Standard safety features
- Higher fuel economy
- Reliability likely excellent
- New styling an acquired taste
- Has to overcome generic image
- Sporty SE models unconvincing
The 2018 Toyota Camry is the eighth generation of the best-selling mid-size sedan, with more expressive styling and a focus on driving enjoyment as well as its customary virtues.
The 2018 Toyota Camry is the first year of an entirely new generation of the best-selling mid-size sedan, the eighth generation in its 35-year history. To inject some pizzaz into a car sometimes perceived as bland and beige, Toyota has made the styling more expressive, built in a more sophisticated suspension for better driving and handling, and promises better fuel efficiency than any previous Camry line. As before, the Camry can be ordered in four trim levels: base LE and better-equipped XLE, plus the sporty SE and upscale XSE. The Camry Hybrid will have its own, more limited, set of versions.
The Camry has been the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. for 15 years now. With consumer interest in sedans sagging in favor of all sizes of crossover utility vehicles, this is an important year for Toyota's best-selling U.S. vehicle. Among mid-size sedans, the Camry competes with the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Nissan Altima, among others.
Design and performance
In line with its desire to make Toyota's mainstream vehicles more expressive, the company has given the sedan a "firm, wide stance," as well as what it calls sportier and more upscale looks. Occupants sit an inch or more lower front and rear, and the car is an inch lower as well as incrementally longer and wider. The two-part grille has what it calls "flowing" lines and a larger Toyota badge, tinted blue for the hybrid model. The rear of the car carries far more sculpting and complex shapes. The sportier SE and XSE models are differentiated not only by their different front end and grille, but revised rear-end styling, door-sill extensions, and a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid.
Inside, the front seats have been entirely redesigned and Toyota says it has used a mix of soft-touch materials and color mixes to convey a more premium impression even in lower-trim models.
Unlike a number of other mid-size sedans that have dispensed with anything larger than 4-cylinder engines, the 2018 Camry sticks with an optional V-6 engine for the high end. The base engine continues to be a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, now mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-liter V-6 apparently sticks with its previous six-speed automatic. Toyota revealed few details about the hybrid version of the new Camry, beyond that it will use a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine again—as did the previous generation—along with the company's two-motor hybrid transmission. A new Sport Model in the Camry Hybrid will allow drivers to move through six simulated "gears" in the electronically continuous variable transmission if they choose. Like the Prius, the battery pack is now sited under the rear seat rather than in the trunk. That may indicate that trunk space will be identical between the standard and hybrid models.
The 2018 Camry now sits on the latest Toyota New Generation Architecture, the platform introduced for last year's Prius hybrid. With a more sophisticated rear trailing-arm suspension, the new underpinnings are intended to make the Camry more confident and enjoyable to drive. They also allow the company to spread the costs of more than a dozen new vehicles across a common set of components.
Every 2018 Camry is fitted with 10 airbags and the usual suite of standard electronic safety systems. In addition, all Camrys will come with the awkwardly named Toyota Safety Sense-P, which bundles 201collision alert with pedestrian detection, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert and correction, and automatic high beams. Certain versions will also include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Features and fuel economy
The Camry Hybrid has its own models, but the conventional 2018 Camry is offered in four versions: the base LE and better-equipped XLE are the high-volume entries, while the sporty SE and upscale XSE are visually differentiated this year.
As for fuel economy, Toyota says the new Camry will have the highest EPA ratings of any Camry lineup in history. And it specifically suggested that the new Camry Hybrid will have ratings approaching those of the latest Prius, which comes in above 50 mph combined.
All Camrys sold in the U.S. are now built at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. The first 2018 Camrys will begin to appear at dealership in late summer 2017.