2018 Camry and Camry Hybrid: All-new mid-size sedan is for everyone

While many competitors have backed away from sedans in favor of SUV and CUV vehicles – Toyota has not.  Instead, Toyota completely re-imagined Camry for 2018 – restyling and reengineering (using no parts from the prior generation Camry) in order to deliver an even better mid-size.  A Camry for everyone featuring more comfort, convenience and amenities, more power with better driving characteristics, latest technology, increased fuel economy and more.

Already the perennial best-selling mid-size sedan for more than 15 years, their market goal is simple – to give Camry owners a reason to remain one and, more importantly, attracting new buyers by delivering a full range of new generation Camry trim levels and configurations, including a hybrid, that offer something for everyone.

In late Spring, we spent a couple of days in the Willamette Valley wine country of Oregon (think Oregon Pinot Noir), where we tested the full 2018 Toyota Camry lineup.

We drove them all – including the hybrid – and we can tell you, that at every trim level and powertrain combination, the 2018 Camry is the best ever which bodes well for their decision to stay the course in the mid-size sedan segment.

2018 Camry Lineup is all-new

The new 2018 Toyota Camry comes in five gasoline trims (L, LE, SE, XLE, XSE) all equipped with a brand new, more powerful and more efficient four-cylinder engine – priced from $23,495 to $29,000.  The two top trims (XLE, XSE) are also available with an also new and more powerful V6 engine priced at $34,400 and $34,950 respectively.

Both gasoline engines are mated to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission – replaces prior six-speed – that optimizes the improved power and efficiency of the new engines.

The 2018 Camry Hybrid lineup offers three well equipped trim levels (LE, SE, XLE) priced from $27,800 to $32,250.  All are powered by a much-improved Toyota Hybrid Drive System and mated to a new “quckshift” continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with a Drive Mode Select that effectively emulates a six-speed automatic transmission.

Powertrain  

Right here is where we tell you that our preferred powertrain for the new 2018 Camry is the Hybrid with its net 208 horsepower engine and Sequential Shiftmatic Technology CVT with its Drive Mode SPORT setting.  This powertrain surprised us – delivering ‘eye-popping’ performance that had us (and will have you) wondering if it is really a hybrid.  Fuel economy is rated at 51/53 mpg city/highway and 52 mpg combined for LE with the SE and XLE slightly less at 44/47 mpg and 46 combined.

Our second choice would be the 2.5L Twin-cam, D-4S Direct Injection four-cylinder gas engine. It produces a very peppy 206 horsepower with 186 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 178 and 170 respectively).  Mated to the 8-speed transmission, this optimized power train is fuel economy rated at 29/41 mpg city/ highway and 34 mpg combined – a full 26 percent better than the 2017 model.

The new 3.5L V6 direct injection engine with new VVT-iW variable valve timing system produces 301 horsepower with 267 lb.-ft. of torque.  The V6 is also mated to the new 8-speed automatic equipped with Drive Mode driver selectable mode settings (ECO, NORMAL and SPORT). The V6 fuel efficiency rating is 22/33 mpg city/highway and 26 mpg combined – 8 percent better than the last generation V6.

Surprisingly, the added horsepower of the V6 did not translate to the performance we expected especially given the new transmission.  That, plus its $5,950 price premium, makes the four-cylinder or hybrid a better choice in our view.

Exterior

Camry styling for 2018 is sleeker and sportier than previous generations with a new lower center of gravity accented by an aggressive – yet refined – shape and silhouette.

The 2018 Camry features LED lighting in front borders a lower, wider and sleeker profile that includes a new two-piece grill nestled below a 1.6-inch lower aluminum hood with a bold new Toyota emblem.

With lowered hip points for the occupants, the new Camry is about one inch lower than its predecessor – but still keeps the ease of access it is known for.

From the C-pillar to the rear is a multiple array of lines and surface shapes that give Camry a distinctive side silhouette.  The lower waistline features a bold crease reaching from the slim LED taillights to the bumper that appear to push the rear wheels outward like a premium sport sedan.

The sportier SE and XSE models boast elements like sculpted rocker panels, 18-inch Black painted or 19-inch machine-finish alloy wheels, rear spoiler, more aggressive front bumper with gloss black mesh grill, rear bumper with distinctive lower diffuser corner lines, smoke-tinted rear lamps and available Panoramic Glass Roof with Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof.

There are 10 colors for Camry.  Available on the XSE trim is a well-executed optional hand painted Midnight Black Metallic roof on the Blue Streak Metallic, Celestial Silver and Wind Chill Pearl colors.

 

Interior

The interior of the 2018 Camry is also completely redesigned featuring generous personal space, comfort and convenience with new and distinctive styling and materials.

A bold new fluid character line for the console and center stack sweeps down from the instrument cluster to bisect the center console waterfall.  The performance styled cockpit angles the distinctive array of gauges and displays toward the driver providing ease of visibility and access.

Cabin surfaces – dashboard, instrument panel, center console, door trim and so on – use a carefully selected array of high grade materials including metals and layered woods with textures and colors in a rich combination pleasing to both eye and touch.

The comfortable cabin seating features a new ergonomic design with available Sport SofTex trim and fabric inserts or Leather-trimmed multi-stage heated front seats and accent stitching both front and rear.

Three interior colors are available – Ash, Macadamia or Black – plus a very bold Cockpit Red available on the XSE (think Lexus F Sport).

Technology

The 2018 Camry is loaded with new or improved technology like the new Data Communications Module (DCM) integrated with the next generation Entune 3.0 multi-media infotainment suite managed through three available interlinked displays.  Included are a 10-inch color Head-Up Display, seven-inch Multi-Information Display in the instrument cluster and a center stack 8-inch color audio/navigation/HVAC control panel.

The DCM maintains an internet connection with the Toyota Smart Center that keeps the vehicle monitored and systems –including NAV maps and directions – updated seamlessly in real time. Other elements include an available JBL Premium Audio system that includes JBL Clari-fi with a new Sound Staging process using nine speakers including a 10.1-inch subwoofer.

Also available are Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, Smart Key system, Remote Access and Start, Qi Wireless Phone Charging, Integrated Backup Camera with dynamic gridlines and more.

Technology

The 2018 Camry is loaded with new or improved technology like the new Data Communications Module (DCM) integrated with the next generation Entune 3.0 multi-media infotainment suite managed through three available interlinked displays.  Included are a 10-inch color Head-Up Display, seven-inch Multi-Information Display in the instrument cluster and a center stack 8-inch color audio/navigation/HVAC control panel.

The DCM maintains an internet connection with the Toyota Smart Center that keeps the vehicle monitored and systems –including NAV maps and directions – updated seamlessly in real time. Other elements include an available JBL Premium Audio system that includes JBL Clari-fi with a new Sound Staging process using nine speakers including a 10.1-inch subwoofer.

Also available are Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, Smart Key system, Remote Access and Start, Qi Wireless Phone Charging, Integrated Backup Camera with dynamic gridlines and more.

The 2018 Toyota Camry – including hybrid – is available at dealerships now.  Click here (https://www.toyota.com/camry/ ) for more information about the complete Camry lineup.

Or, if you happen to be at the State Fair of Texas this month (https://bigtex.com/ ), stop by the Toyota display at the Texas Auto Show ( http://texasautoshow.bigtex.com/ ) and check out the new 2018 Camry.