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New Car Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE; Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE
ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 301 hp @ 6,800 rpm/267 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
WHEELBASE: 111.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 192.7 x 72.4 x 56.9 in.
TIRES: P235/40R19
CARGO CAPACITY: 15.1 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/22.7 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 16.0 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,571 lbs. #/HP: 11.9
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion
STICKER: $38,730 (includes $895 delivery, $2,885 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Toyota Camry XSE is the top-of-the-line version of Toyota’s top-selling sedan. As such, it exceeds all the other Camry variants in power and luxury.

The Toyota Camry has been one of the best-selling, if not the best-selling sedans for many years. There are many reasons behind this. The Camry is solid, well-built, is a good size, and can get you there with a minimum of fuss.

Also, Toyota builds many variants of the Camry, including a hybrid with all the hybrid technology Toyota has mastered over the years. Our tester is the XSE version, which means it has the bigger V6 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission rather than a CVT. In addition, the tranny has setting for eco, normal and sport.

That V6 pumps out a heathy 301 horsepower that can get the Camry up and going in a short amount of time. Acceleration is very good, even on the highway when you need a boost to get out of trouble. The horsepower-to-weight ratio is 11.9, which puts the XSE into the performance car category. There is a bogey for this power; the XSE carries a sticker price of $38,730, which almost pushes it out of the mid-size price range.

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I'm a firm believer that a car should have an interesting dash. After all, that’s what you look at all the time. Sure, a sexy exterior is nice, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you’re looking at the dash. Let’s face it, a decent dash is what kept the Pontiac Aztec alive for more than six months. The Camry has one of the most distinctive dashes extant. It has curves and swoops, flat sections and 3D sections, and in our tester, a splash of red leather accents to wake you.

Besides the beauty, it’s super-functional with all the controls and switches and read outs near at hand. To be honest, I didn’t avail myself of all that was available, but what we did play with was marvelous. My only complaint is that Toyota chose to relocate the cruise control switches from the stalk on the right of the steering column onto the wheel.

The infotainment screen is split between audio and a map, with a fuel economy readout as well. Switches for home, menu, audio, map, phone, apps, plus tuning share the info area.

This has been a bear of a winter in the northeast, and my wife and I both appreciated the better-than-adequate heater and red leather heated seats that match the dash. There are two cupholders in the center console plus a deep cubby with 12-volt and USB outlets. The arm rest contains a deep cubby with two USB outlets.

The instrument cluster is clear, but there is almost too much information. With a heads up display projected onto the windshield, it’s possible to focus on that for speed monitoring and just look at the i.p. for details.

Exterior styling for this umpteenth generation Camry is as striking as the interior, with a large grille that shows the Lexus family heritage. Our tester had the optional two-tone paint ($500) with a black roof to contrast with the white body. It’s the first time I’ve seen a real two-tone sedan in many years.

Rear seat legroom is good, as is exterior visibility from back there. The Camry has a good practical trunk with the rear seat back releases located in the trunk cavity. When folded, the rear seat backs don’t create a flat floor, Also, there is a “frame” around the opening between the trunk and the interior of the car.

Overall, the Camry is a comfortable car to drive and ride in. there are no surprises for true Camry fans, except maybe the enjoyment of an artistic dash.

(c) 2018 The Auto Page Syndicate

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