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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE

      Can a Camry be exciting? Well, yes.

    Many automotive journalists have been flummoxed by the popularity of the Toyota Camry. The model trails the pack in a number of key areas such as design, handling, and performance. But I know the reason why the Camry is beloved by many; it is a no hassle midsize sedan that will go the distance. 

    But there is a change that endangers many midsize sedans. Buyers who previously brought sedans are now trending towards crossovers and SUVs as they offer a number of traits such as a higher ride height and a large area for people and stuff. Automakers find themselves in a difficult spot as to whether they should drop their sedans to focus on utility vehicles, or put more effort into making them more appealing. Toyota has chosen the latter option with the 2018 Camry. Let’s see if they made the right call.

    Previous Camrys have tended to play it safe with their exterior designs. The new model drops the safe attitude and goes for something very extroverted. For the XSE, this includes a different front end with a smaller lower grille and large cutouts in the bumper. The side profile shows off a pronounced character line and a set of 19-inch machined-finish alloy wheels. Move the back to find a faux diffuser and a set of quad tailpipes. I actually prefer the look of the XSE to the other Camry models as it loses out on the gaping maw that is the lower grille.

    Compared to the jumbled-together look of the previous Camry’s interior, the new model features a flowing and modern design. The unique shape of the center stack and contrasting trim pieces for the passenger really help the model stand out. Controls are laid out in a very logical fashion and have easy-to-read text. Material quality is very impressive with exposed stitching, metal trim, and a lot of soft-touch plastic. 

    The XSE features leather seats with eight-way power adjustments for driver and passenger. I found the seats to be on the firm side and provide decent support on short trips. But on longer trips, my lower back started to ache. I couldn’t tell if I design of the seat just didn’t work with my back or if I had too much lumbar. On paper, the Camry has the smallest amount of rear legroom. But in reality, I found that I had more than enough to feel comfortable. Taller passengers will need to duck as headroom is quite tight due to the optional sunroof.

    Toyota has installed the latest version of their Entune infotainment system in the 2018 Camry. The new version comes with an updated look that retains the ease of use that we have liked on the older systems. Performance is about average for the class as it takes only a few milliseconds to get to the various functions. I do like the array of physical buttons that provide an easy way to move around the system. There is still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. But considering the 2019 Avalon does have Apple CarPlay, we hope the Camry will get it as well.

    XSE models get a heads-up display as standard. However, I found the display to be more of a hindrance as the image was blurry. I think this is a problem with Toyota as I experienced the same issue in the LC 500 coupe I drove late last year.

    For its polarizing character, you might be expecting the Camry XSE to have either a turbo-four or V6 under the hood. While a 3.5L V6 is available, this XSE featured the standard 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 206 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It was a bit disappointing to find this engine under the hood considering the vehicle’s character. Around town, the Camry doesn’t feel as fast as the Hyundai Sonata due to most of the power being available only at higher rpms. On the highway or needing to make a pass, the four-cylinder comes alive with enough shove to get you moving at a decent clip. Disappointingly, Toyota forgot to quiet down the engine during acceleration as there is a fair amount of buzz coming inside the cabin. But the engine quiets down to a murmur when cruising. The new eight-speed transmission pairs well with the engine, delivering unobtrusive and quick shifts.

    Fuel economy figures for the 2.5 are 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week landed around 32.6 mpg in mixed driving.

    The Camry is the latest Toyota model to move on to the TGNA modular platform and it makes the model somewhat fun to pilot. On a curvy stretch of road, the XSE feels well-mannered as there isn’t excessive body motion and the steering proving a direct and well-weighted feel. Despite its sporting nature, the XSE’s ride is well-controlled with only a few bumps making their way inside. One disappointment is the large amount road and wind noise that comes inside when driving on the freeway. 

    The Camry XSE sits as the flagship trim with a starting price of $29,150 for the four-cylinder and $35,100 for the V6. With a number of options, the as-tested price of this XSE comes to $35,333. That is quite the poor value considering for a few hundred dollars more, you can get into a loaded an Accord Touring complete with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing 252 horsepower. For a couple thousand dollars less, the Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T and Kia Optima SX offer similar driving dynamics and more luxury touches.

    Toyota knew it had to take a big gamble with the new Camry considering the growing demand for crossovers. In certain respects, Toyota has done it. The Camry is not a wallflower in terms of its looks and handling. Additionally, the interior blends a distinctive design with ease of use. But there are some problems that put the Camry in a tough spot. The four-cylinder engine needs a bit more low-end punch for around-town driving. Some more sound deadening would go a long way in making the Camry a good long-distance cruiser. The biggest issue is the value argument as other sedans offer much more equipment for similar or less money than the Camry. Toyota is likely banking on the name equity of model to justify the higher price. This would be ok if we weren’t in a time where more and more buyers are moving to crossovers and utility vehicles. The 2018 Toyota Camry is a much better car from the one it replaces, but the high price tag may be its downfall.

    Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2018
    Make: Toyota
    Model: Camry
    Trim: XSE
    Engine: 2.5L Twin-Cam, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 206 @ 6,600
    Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 5,000
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32
    Curb Weight: 3,395 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
    Base Price: $29,000
    As Tested Price: $35,355 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Audio Package - $1,800.00
    Driver Assist Package - $1,675.00
    Panoramic Sunroof - $1,045.00
    Special Color - $395.00
    Illuminated Door Sill Enhancements - $299.00
    Carpet/Trunk Mat Set - $224.00

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    I will say this is much better than any previous version of the Camry in looks. Yet I see they have started to use the Predator mouth on Toyota making Lexus and Toyota look the same again. 

    This could also be a move to give Lexus a new look and Toyota moves onto the old Lexus look.

    No matter what, while this is the best this car has ever looked, it still would not get me to buy it. BLAH.

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    They definitely don't have the 'get lost in an empty parking lot' styling anymore.  I do kind of like the profile, but not some of the overwrought front and rear detailing.   I saw a white one w/ black roof and red leather interior yesterday...very striking, could never have imagined a Camry w/ a red interior.   Quite a change from the usual anonymous appliance appearance. 

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    A mix of blandness and overwraught Lego-esque assembly. Not cohesive at all. All the black plastic makes it look cheaper & cheaper, and the 'transformer grille' looks like it'll pop off at the first good chuckhole.

    Does appear to be better assembled than the last lexus hi-res pics I looked thru on this site.

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    14 minutes ago, Drew Dowdell said:

    @William Maley - how were squeaks and rattles? I've heard from other colleagues of ours that this Camry seems more prone to them

    I didn't have any of those in my tester. But I can say it doesn't feel as solid as previous Camrys. Closing the door, it sounded somewhat hollow.

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      Model: Corolla Hatchback
      Trim: XSE
      Engine: 2.0 DOHC 15-Valve D-4S with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31
      Curb Weight: 3,060 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $23,240
      As Tested Price: $26,450 (Includes $955.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Black Roof, Spoiler, and Side Mirrors - $500.00
      Adaptive Headlights - $415.00
      Rear Window Spoiler - $375.00
      Carpet Mat Package - $249.00
      Door Sill Protectors - $165.00
      Black Emblem Overlays - $129.00
      Mudguards - $129.00
      Door Edge Guard - $125.00
      Rear Bumper Protector - $89.00
      TRD Air Filter - $79.00
  • Posts

    • Toyota has penetration in a lot of global markets.  But just looking in the USA, the Rav4 is the #4 selling vehicle in the country.  And when you go by segments, the Camry is the best selling car, Rav4 the best selling SUV, the Highlander probably is the #1 selling 3 row SUV, if it isn't it is close, the Civic beats the Corolla, that is an area Toyota needs to improve but the Corolla Cross is now there, so maybe that is their answer.   But then Toyota has the #1 selling mid-size truck, the 4Runner still sells decent despite being ancient.  The Lexus RX is the best selling luxury SUV, the ES350 still sells pretty strong.     Toyota is strong in a lot of key segments, and much of the competition is giving up on some of those segments.  Mazda dropped the 6 and the CX-3, Ford has dropped all cars but Mustang, and they are dropping Ecosport in 6 months, GM seems to be dropping every car they have at the end of the life cycle except for Corvette.  I feel like a lot of car companies are giving up on segments and making Toyota's job even easier.
    • Is this the new Z06?  It appears to be.  It is said that General Motors posted this on Instagram today.  https://www.roadandtrack.com/news/a37755096/this-is-the-c8-corvette-z06-undisguised/     I like it. I like it better than the Stingray.  I dont necessarily like this colour though, but I think if this is the new Z06, then its a smashingly good looking C8.  I want to see how it looks in yellow with C8R cues on it.  Interesting to see how much more aggressive the Z07 package would be on this as I dont see an aggressive rear spoiler nor aero canards and aero stuff in the front.  Rear diffuser in the back? Center exhaust? Which Z06 will have all that? Is this the "base" Z06? Lots of questions still need to be answered and the questions above are still just about the exterior design and engineering choices and specs.  Engine choice is still a mystery.   And with the C8 side air vents being what they are, and how they and up helping gulp in more air for the C8R and now with this reveal,  one visual I enjoy and appreciate very much on the Z06 is this cue:   Very vintage American muscle car what Chevy designers did there.  👍  Very keeping the original inspiration of shark colour and loosely based looks.  🤙      
    • 😅 How many people are replacing a $24K vehicle with a $75K vehicle??? Not a significant volume, without a doubt.
    • Being the sales leader in any market makes you a target for all other competitors.  Now Toyota faces what GM had to deal with for nearly a century: everyone is nipping at its heels.  The leader makes a few wrong decisions judging the future of the marketplace and everyone else pounces on their mistakes one way or another.  Toyota can probably shift from hydrogen to full EV since they have their hybrid lines have taught them a whole lot about the technology and what it takes to deliver.  This is NOT GM of the 1970s and 1980s, where GM was struggling to contain and defeat Toyota and Honda in competition for Boomer buyers.  GM lost a LOT of market share from 1968-2009 (about 1 percentage point per year), which allowed Toyota to surpass them on the sales sheets.  EVs to the left, with Hyundai/KIA to the right, Toyota looks like they might be squeezed if they are not careful. If Toyota's days at number 1 are numbered, that may not be a bad thing.  If they lost the prize of being the number one sales leader, that would allow Toyota to focus on making the best vehicles, not just merely moving the metal.  Is GM in better shape now, or in 2004 when they ended Oldsmobile, with the last one off the assembly line as an Alero?  GM has not been in as good of shape in at least 15 years or more than right now.  And some of that is AFTER it lost the #1 title to Toyota.  Toyota fears being surpassed by cheaper competitors AND better products that fit tomorrow's markets better than what is currently on offer.  Imagine if FORD or GM had a true Tacoma killer.  Imagine if FORD or GM had an EV that renders the Prius line completely obsolete, at prices Toyota cannot or will not match.  New competitors will give Toyota executives some sleepless nights. In a competitive environment, NO LEAD is safe from being surpassed.  Ever.  Just ask GM.
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