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2018 Toyota Camry, Camry With a New Attitude Review By Larry Nutson


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2018 Toyota Camry
With a New Attitude

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

In 2017 the Toyota Camry was still among the top ten nameplates sold in the U.S. However from once being in the number 2 spot (just behind the Ford F-series pickup) it has now dropped to sixth.

Camry is not to blame. Consumer tastes have shifted from cars to SUVs and trucks in part due to low gasoline prices, lower fuel consumption by SUVs and low-cost financing terms.

However, the Camry is still the best selling car, as it has been for the last 15 years.

For 2018 the Camry had been completely redesigned. We’re now up to the eighth generation Camry that rides on an all-new platform, Toyota’s New Global Architecture. It’s longer, lower and wider. The chassis is 30-percent more rigid and there’s new suspension geometry. Light-weighting is a big part of new vehicle designs today and the Camry makes use of high-strength steel, an aluminum hood and thinner steel throughout the body.

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Toyota says there were three primary design goals when penning the all-new Camry: a distinctive, low center of gravity that results in a firm wide stance; a practical-yet-emotionally styled cabin profile, and a sporty and upscale image both inside and out.

The interior cabin has been completely redesigned with improved ergonomics and comfort in the seats, and a completely new instrument panel and center console. The driver-focused cabin uses new material and finishes along with diverse colors.

The front-wheel drive 5-seat 2018 Camry is offered in five grades: L, LE, XLE, SE and XSE. There are two new conventional gasoline powertrains; a new 203-HP 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine (206-HP In XSE) and a new 301-HP 3.5-liter V6, both of which are paired to a new eight-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission.

The sportier SE and XSE grades have different body styling than the entry level L and LE, and premium XLE grades, highlighted by a sculpted rocker panel, new 19-inch black machined-finish alloy wheels (standard on XSE and optional on SE), a subtle rear spoiler lip, aggressive front bumper, and rear bumper with a lower diffuser.

The third powertrain choice is the next-gen Toyota Hybrid with a combined system 208-HP and uses a CVT transmission. The 2018 Camry Hybrid is available in three grades, LE, SE, and XLE. The hybrid is equipped with a Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery pack on the LE grade and Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack on the SE and XLE.

Pricing for 2018 Camry gas models ranges from $23,495 for the L grade 4-cylinder to $34,950 for the Premium XSE V6. Camry hybrid prices ranges from $27,800 for the LE to $32,250 for the XLE.

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For my drive evaluation I was in the 4-cyiinder XLE model priced at $28,450.

One thing I really like about the new Camry is that every grade comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite of equipment. This includes forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and mitigation, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. More and more we will see these items become standard on all vehicles. Anyone new-car shopping today should opt for them since they will repay you in spades when a crash is avoided.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Camry a Top Safety Pick-plus.

In spite of low gasoline prices, fuel economy is still important especially when it comes to a long road trip. The 4-cylinder is EPA test-cycle rated at 29 mpg city and 41 mpg highway in the L grade. For the others it’s a bit lower at 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. The V6 is EPA-rated at 22 city mpg and 33 highway mpg, with the XSE grade having a 1 mpg lower highway rating.

In the LE grade, the Camry Hybrid has an EPA test-cycle rating of 51 city mpg and 53 highway mpg. The SE and XLE grads have a rating of 44 city mpg and 47 highway mpg.

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My drive in the XLE proved quite satisfying. I like the overall more stylish exterior and in the silver paint finish the Camry looked somewhat elegant. The interior cabin is really to like. The leather-trimmed seats were attractive and comfortable.

The Entune 3.0 connectivity system comes on all Camrys and connects to apps on your smartphone, however Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is not available.

The 2.5-liter engine worked well with the eight speed transmission. A real benefit of all these transmission gears is not revving the engine high to have good overall acceleration and drivability. Like many fours, it’s a bit noisy. Around the streets of Chicago the Camry did well over typical pavement bumps with good damping. On a few highway ramps I pushed the handling a bit and the Camry stayed composed and compliant. Steering is light but responds well to input. The Camry is easy to drive and a safe bet if you are midsize sedan shopping.

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Designed, engineered and built in Georgetown, Kentucky, the new Camry has shaken up the midsize car segment. It was one of the three finalists to be named North American Car of the Year.

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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