HEELS ON WHEELS: 2018 TOYOTA CAMRY REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE 2018 TOYOTA CAMRY VEHICLE
Not your Camry of year’s past, Toyota’s top-selling sedan gets a redesign for the model year that includes down-right sleek styling and performance enhancements for possibly the best version yet.
I drove a 2018 Toyota Camry with the 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with sport-tuned suspension. Offered in a range of trim levels – L, LE, SE, XLE, and XSE (plus a smaller 203-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or the V6) – standard equipment in my XSE V6 test drive included the following: sport leather-trimmed seats; eight-way power driver and passenger seats; heated front seats; a leather-trimmed steering wheel; panoramic glass roof with moonroof; Entune 3.0 Audio Plus JBL with Clar-Fi and nine speakers; 8-inch touchscreen; upgraded10-inch head-up display; Bluetooth connectivity; Qi Wireless charging; backup camera; push-button start; LED headlights; color-keyed rear spoiler; Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert; and 19-inch black machine-finished alloy wheels. Price as described without options came to $34,950.
The competitor's list is long and includes the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Jetta and Passat, Kia Optima, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Legacy. The 2018 Toyota Camry is up for the Family Vehicle of the Year (MAMA) and North American Car of the Year.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Inside, a rather curvature design unites the dash to the center console and places all dials and commands at the ready along the way. At the higher-end XSE trim, the Camry impresses with its audio upgrades and technology, chiefly the larger screen and clear sound. With all those screens – the 10-inch head-up display with digital readouts for speed and turn-by-turn directions, the upgraded 8-inch touchscreen for navigation – the interior delivers a contemporary feel (although the graphics and overall touchscreen system continue to underwhelm). The second row is roomy enough for a baby seat without the front passenger feeling cramped with seatbelts easy to click into for smaller children; overall, all five passengers have generous shoulder and leg room. Upgrades for my XSE test drive included a $1,050 Driver Assist Package (Bird’s Eye View camera) and a $940 Navigation Package (upgraded Entune features).
Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2018 Toyota Camry is rated by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a Top Safety Pick with ratings of “Good” in all areas of testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2018 Toyota Camry a 5-Star Safety Rating. Safety equipment includes Toyota Safety Sense P (pre-collision with pedestrian detection), Star Safety System, Safety Connect, advanced airbag system, Blind Spot Monitor, and ToyotaCare.
Cost Issues: A starting price of the base 2018 Toyota Camry L trim starts at $23,495; the mid-level XLE at $28,450; and my loaded XSE with the larger V6 at $34,950.
Activity & Performance Ability: Having primarily experienced the smaller 4-cylinder engine, the V6 upgrade for my Camry test drive raised the bar on the sedan’s agility and response time, putting it more into line with such feisty competitors as the Mazda6 and Kia Optima. There is a commanding feel behind the wheel – much so than a European counterpart like the Volkswagen Passat – that allows the Camry to behave spritely and downright athletic. Paired with its upgraded looks, the 2018 Camry does pull off a different response than models of the past.
The Green Concern: The 3.5-liter V6 gets 22 miles-per-gallon city and 32 highway for a combined 26 miles-per-gallon which is a slight improvement than the previous 3.5-liter.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2018 Toyota Camry finally delivers the zest lacking from past models both in looks and performance for an affordable yet fun mid-sized sedan with the additional benefits of having a reliable reputation.
©2018 Katrina Ramser
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