SEATTLE, February 18, 2018 — What is easily the best Camry ever also presents itself as one of best sedans in its respective price bracket you can buy. The 2018 model year for Camry, introduces the new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) which allows the company to build a variety of vehicles based on common parts and platforms. This is to allow them to be more dynamic at the production side of things as market demands change, thus keeping their costs lower to the consumer.
More importantly, for those of us who care about driving, the dynamics of the Camry have changed for the better, along with its great new aesthetics. Under the hood of the XSE is the potent 3.5-liter V6 that has an impressive 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, easily making it the most powerful Camry ever made.
All this power doesn’t have too bad of a MPG rating either, as the EPA rates it at 22 miles per gallon around town and up to 32 on the highway for a combined average of 26..
Toyota mated the engine to a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for more of a manual feel. However, the car will still force shifts – even in “sport mode” – once you hit near the engine’s redline. It’s sad that they do that, simply than just using a rev-limiter. There are many instances when I want to be able to have full control as to when the car shifts or not.
While the engine is response and does an excellent job of propelling the vehicle off the line, it has one major Achilles’ heel – front-wheel- drive. No all-wheel-drive available. The reason this is an issue is that the engine has the propensity to always trip the traction control system as the front tires have a hard time keeping up with all of that power.
Why Toyota hasn’t moved to an all-wheel-drive option remains a mystery but it’d certainly make sense with the powerplant used.
Camry design and amenities
It’d be difficult for anyone to subjectively not appreciate the updated design language that Toyota has moved to in the Camry. Gone are the more boring body lines that have gave away to angles and design cues that capture one’s eye.
There’s a hint of the Lexus influence in the lower part of the front grill and yet enough difference. They’ve done a great job of making the car appear more masculine without compromising its family-friendly curb appeal at the same time.
Toyota also stepped up its game for the interior as well. It’s leather-trimmed steering wheel, leather seats and tastefully-designed metallic surfaces (XSE model), along with the entire dash and center console layout all feel upscale.
The only caveat here is the use of the cheap-feeling plastic buttons surrounding the infotainment system. Outside of that one area, there’s really no complaints we have at all.
The eight-inch touch-screen is very responsive with little noticeable lag and its easy-to-use navigation system is great as well. Toyota does include a few apps to make accessing your favorite music, easier and features XM satellite radio as well. Of course, there’s the standard CD player (who uses those things anymore?), MP3/WMA encoded audio discs, AM/FM and Bluetooth audio support as well.
Thanks to the partnership with JBL, the sound quality is above average and delivers convincing bass, mid-range and highs that have a sense of smoothness to them.
It’s inclination to roast the tires, withstanding – this Camry XSE is fun to drive!
It has the power we appreciate for getting off the line or passing someone, all while maintaining its composure. The car definitely has some understeer but overall, the way it handles is on-point and we’d dare say, a cut above the competition. The cars wider stance than previous model years and lowered center of gravity give it a very grounded feel to it. There’s minimal body sway and multi-link setup really helps place the XSE head and shoulders above other competitive autos.
In an era where we see shrinking displacements of engines that are hinged on the augmentation of turbochargers, it’s great to see Toyota up the ante with this best-of-class V6. Additionally, the inclusion of a non-CVT transmission is welcomed as we loathe the way CVT performs and shifts.
Kudos to Toyota for making vast improvements in the all-important factors of performance and handling. Sure the gorgeous design helps as well – either way, the 2018 is a dead ringer to be one of the most talked about and lauded mid-sized sedans this year.