You don’t become the best-selling car in America for 15 years without much effort. As a benchmark, your mid-size sedan is the constant target of well-funded and market-share hungry brands from across the globe. And yet, Toyota continues to dominate the class. While sedans may be increasingly passed-over in favor of crossovers, the Camry hasn’t rested on its laurels. This all-new eighth generation Toyota Camry was designed from the ground up to elevate it even further.
The all-new Camry is built upon a new global platform that is longer, wider, and stiffer. The body panels are thinner and the hood is now aluminum, to further help reduce weight. This aids both performance and efficiency. The seating position is lower, allowing designers to lower the roof by nearly an inch compared to the outgoing model. This improves the Camry’s center of gravity, creating a more stable ride. The SE and XSE trims, like our tester, look remarkably different from the rest of the model range. This is because the sportier trim levels have a completely different front and rear design. The front and rear bumpers, grilles, rear spoiler, and rocker panels are all unique to those models. There are also quad exhaust tips, unique 19″ black machine-finish wheels, and an optional contrasting metallic black roof. All-in-all, this is the most aggressive and outlandishly styled Camry ever offered.
Below the surface, more changes have been made to improve this new Camry. A new double wishbone rear suspension improves ride quality and handling. But the biggest headline comes from the new 3.5L V6. While the displacement hasn’t changed, this new engine makes more power and is more efficient than ever before. It now produces 301hp and 267 lb-ft torque while being 8% more fuel efficient. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard across the entire model range as well. It includes a torque converter that has a wider range of lock-up, meaning the transmission stays engaged to the engine more often. This provides a better driving feel.
Overall, the changes have made a remarkable improvement in the Camry’s demeanor and responsiveness. There’s a pleasant naturally-aspirated linearity to the power delivery. Unlike other competitors like the turbocharged Ford Fusion Sport, the torque is available immediately. The suspension remains soft but composed even over rough roads. The steering is light and quick, as we’ve come to expect with Toyota, but offers a surprisingly informative feel. We might have made fun of the old “grounded to the ground” ad campaign, but this new Camry feels planted. Only the transmission and its penchant for economy shifting let down the experience.
Inside, this top-level trim Camry is replete with soft-touch materials, upscale textures, and an ergonomic layout. The optional Cockpit Red interior adds more than a splash of color to the Camry. It’s shocking to see this bright an interior from Toyota. With swooping silver trim, nicely stitched red panels, and comfortable seats, this XSE trim echos some Lexus cues. The revised infotainment system is quick to respond to inputs and offers a bright, crisp display. Forward visibility is immense thanks to small A-pillars and a lower hood. The low beltline and sensible roofline aid with visibility as well, in addition to making the rear seats fit for tall passengers. As sedans have gotten swoopy and coupe-like, this kind of rear headroom is becoming hard to find.
There’s nothing this Camry does better than erase the bland, appliance-like stereotype the nameplate has carried for generations. This isn’t a beige sedan for your high school history teacher anymore, at least not this XSE V6. With its unique visual appearance, more powerful engine, and engineering enhancements,the 2018 Toyota Camry is poised to retain its title. We called the 2015 Toyota Camry XSE bold. This one is even bolder.
|2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6
|Driver Assist Package||$1,050|
|Two-Tone Body Color||$500|
|As Tested MSRP||$38,730|