5 Reasons Why the 2018 Camry is the best Camry ever

The best selling car in the United States for 15 years straight, the Toyota Camry has been the family sedan of the masses since the early nineties. Not wanting to fix something that wasn’t broken, Toyota has kept the formula more or less the same since its introduction into the North American market. Stellar reliability, spacious comfort, and excellent fuel economy have always been the perfect combination for most people looking for an affordable mid-size sedan. However, the Camry has never truly won the hearts of automotive enthusiasts, who often call it a boring people carrier: great for going reliably from point A to point B, but about as exciting as—according to Car and Driver—”a ham and cheese sandwich made on white bread: bland but it does the job.” Just mentioning the word ”Camry” in front of a motorhead and this image likely pops into their head:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward over 25 years and 5 generations later, Akio Toyoda has gone in a whole different direction in creating the new 2018 Camry. Built from the ground up on Toyota’s New Global Architecture or TNGA; a new, modular unibody platform underpins the 2018 Camry. TNGA’s purpose is not only to make the Camry more exciting to look at, but also more engaging to drive. Throw in 3 brand-new powertrains, and it’s apparent that Toyota is serious about turning its huge sales success into a vehicle loved by automotive journalists and new car buyers alike. Have they succeeded? Yes. However, I’d take it one step further and call it the best Camry of all-time, and I don’t even think it’s close. Here’s me going over my 5 pillars of an excellent sedan, and why the 2018 Camry is the best Camry ever.

1. Performance – A sedan is just a family car if it doesn’t make you feel special when you put your foot down.

Both engine sizes remain identical at 2.5L for the 4-cylinder and 3.5L for the V6, so you’d expect performance numbers to stay relatively the same, but they end up telling a whole different story. While the 2017 Camry equipped with a 4-cylinder was capable of 178 hp & 170 lb-ft of torque, the new 4-banger in the 2018 model improves in both measurements to 203 hp (+25) and 184 lb-ft (+14). In XSE models, with its quad exhaust outlets, these numbers improve even more to 206 hp and 186 lb-ft. Put simply, what you get is the most powerful non-turbo 4-cylinder in its class.

With even Honda forgoing the V6 in the Accord for a turbo-four, the ubiquitous 3.5L V6 remains in the 2018 Camry, but with even more impressive gains to show: 268 hp in the previous generation is now 301 (+33), while torque has jumped from 248 lb-ft to 267 (+19). Paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission in all gasoline models, performance has jumped substantially and output is smoother than ever. The hybrid powertrain has also been redone, with a combined 208 hp. Bottom line is, you are getting an impressive amount of power no matter which powertrain you decide to go with, something you couldn’t say about any previous Camry.

Rating: A

2. Fuel economy – What’s the point if your sedan is about as efficient as a large SUV?

More power rarely means better fuel efficiency. Even rarer is the combination of highest power output with the best fuel economy. While the 4-cylinder 2017 Camry received respectable ratings of 9.8 and 7.1 L per 100 km in the city and highway respectively, the 2018 Camry has dramatically improved on these numbers to 8.1(-1.7)/5.7 L(-1.4) per 100 km, making it the least thirsty naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder in its segment by a decent margin, even bettering the outgoing Camry Hybrid on the highway (5.7 vs 6.2). Efficiency also improves when you opt for an XLE or XSE equipped with a V6. The new Camry V6 now achieves 10.7/7.4 L per 100 km in the city and highway respectively, up from 11(-0.3)/7.8(-0.4) L per 100 km on the 2017 model. Not to be outdone by its gasoline counterparts, fuel economy on the Hybrids have jumped from 6.2/5.8 L per 100 km up to 4.9(-1.3)/4.8(-1) L per 100 km, courtesy of a lighter, more powerful lithium-ion battery pack (à la Prius) found in LE trim levels. Solid fuel economy has always been a priority for Toyota, and the 2018 Camry does not disappoint.

Rating: A+

3. Exterior styling – A good-looking sedan is like a coupe with 2 extra doors that say ”I’m young and cool, but responsible.”

Styling on Camry’s of the past could always be described as plain yet classy. Elegantly simple, but for the most part, uneventful and easy to blend in with the crowd. To say that things have changed with the 2018 Camry would be an understatement. TNGA has transformed this new Camry into what could easily be mistaken for an upscale luxury sedan: with a sloping roofline, beautiful character lines, and an aggressive stance. The tires and rims fill the wheel wells nicely, and go all the way up to 19” in the XSE. Standard automatic LED headlamps and taillights adorn the 4 corners of the Camry, with available LED daytime running lights as well. Opting for an SE or XSE, among other things, gets you a sporty front grille, side skirts, rear spoiler, and dual exhaust pipes to differentiate from the more classic looking LE and XLE (L stands for luxury). It’s a toss up between the two styles for me: I like the sportier-looking S-line (especially the front end), but I do find the look of the LE and XLE to be more timeless. However, I would likely opt for an XSE just for the option of getting a slick two-tone paint job.

Rating: B

4. Interior quality – A sedan should not have an cabin that reminds you of what interiors looked like 20 years ago.

A car that looks upscale on the outside is nothing without a rich interior to match. Although interior dimensions haven’t changed much, the sheer amount of glass that surrounds you when you sit inside definitely makes the Camry feel very roomy and open. Touching around the cabin, all the materials are very high quality. Toyota nailed the feel of the soft-touch surfaces, and have also hid the hard plastics well. The seats are very supportive, and are especially luxurious when you opt for leather seating surfaces. The swooping center dash is truly a thing of beauty, complete with big, glove-friendly buttons and dials that fall in familiar places. In the middle is a 7” or 8” touchscreen, housing Toyota’s new Entune 3.0 Infotainment system and App Suite. Features include a brand new smartphone-based Scout GPS navigation app, Backup Camera, Bluetooth, and Siri Eyes-Free, with available 360-degree Birds Eye View Monitor, Safety Connect, Wireless Charging, Heads-up Display, and more. A lovely leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls feels high-quality in every way and rounds out the experience nicely.

Rating: B+

5. How it drives – If it doesn’t put a smile on your face, what’s the point?

Although Toyota improved the Camry’s driving excitement in the last generation, it required a sacrifice in ride quality to achieve. With TNGA increasing torsional rigidity by 30% and allowing a new multi-link rear suspension, the cabin is incredibly quiet and composed going over road imperfections, yet doesn’t at all feel disconnected from the road. Steering feels solid and responsive, with a good weight when going at higher speeds. The 2018 Camry is, dare I say, confidence-inspiring. It handles excellently and stays planted through corners, yet goes about its business with a composure that even some luxury sedans lack. The suspension is perfectly tuned for driving around in quiet comfort, yet has plenty of capability to carry you through a tight curve without any drama. If you are even an occasional spirited driver, I wholeheartedly recommend you opt for an SE or XSE with its sport-tuned suspension. A little stiffer and firmer than the setup found in the L-series, handling feels tighter and more precise, but more importantly, without much of a change in ride comfort at all. Couple that with any one of the Camry’s much improved powertrains, and you get a car that is just as athletic as it is comfortable. This is a Camry, right?

Rating: A-

Conclusion

The 2018 Camry does everything that previous Camry’s did well, but it also adds inspiring performance, swanky styling, a rich interior, class-leading fuel economy, and a memorable driving experience. If you haven’t test driven the new 2018 Camry yet, there’s a form attached to this page for you to book a test drive right now. Words can only begin to describe how this car drives, so I strongly encourage you to try one out for yourself. The comparison between this Camry and Camry’s of the past is not even a fair discussion anymore. Instead of sticking to the same formula that has made it the best selling car in America, Toyota took a chance and rebuilt the Camry from the ground up. The result is a vehicle that fills all the checkmarks and is so satisfying that I still can’t bring myself to believe it says ”Camry” on the back.

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