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2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6: Sportier Than Ever

April 25, 2018

 

 

It's no secret that the Toyota Camry is one of, if not the best selling car in the US for quite a few years now.

In 2017 alone a staggering 387,801 units were sold, and for good reason. With multiple trims offered, a bevy of modern features, the industry standard in reliability, and non-offensive styling, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to keep one in their garage. Now, Toyota introduces the eighth generation of the Camry with a completely redesigned model for 2018. Not that anyone who’s purchased a Camry in previous years seems to be displeased, Toyota has still opted to give this work horse a more upscale feel and performance edge it’s never quite had. Probably more appealing than ever to the millennials searching for something that gets the job done without being mistaken for their granny’s wheels. For the first time ever, we find ourselves excited to show off a Camry to our racer friends at Cantrell Motorsports and Giordano's Vintage Motors. This is officially, the sportiest Toyota Camry to date.

 

The Camry XSE has a new 3.5 liter naturally aspirated V-6 with D4-S direct injection. There’s also a 2.5 Liter inline 4 and Hybrid available.  Judging from the performance capabilities of our XSE tester, it would appear that Toyota now has the ever-sportier Honda Accord in its sights. With 301 horsepower and 267 ft-lbs torque, the new Camry has more grunt than any model year before it. The power’s delivered in a linear fashion which is reasonable to control. Get too stabby with your right foot and torque steer rears its head. Getting behind the wheel of a Camry usually entails a very sedated feeling from the controls as well as the suspension. Luckily this wasn’t exactly the case. With new chassis dynamics from Toyotas TNGA platform (Toyota new global architecture) which has 30% more torsional rigidity, and a redesigned double wishbone suspension, this once family mover is now lighter on its feet than ever.

 

During our time on some back roads we found the car to be quite competent. In fact, the new Camry felt right at home weaving through chicanes, while giving us more than enough get up and go when necessary. Another welcomed surprise was steering feel. Camrys are notorious for having the numbest of

steering feel, accompanied by a serious disconnect between car and driver. This one however, was properly direct with far less play on turn-in. Dare I say it was fun to drive? It probably goes unsaid but commuting with this revamped edition was an absolute breeze. Even in our V-6 version we got decent gas mileage with 22 city/33 highway.  Considering the success that Toyota has had with selling this model, it only feels right that we compare it’s driving dynamics to previous generations. Which to that I have to say; Wow, a Camry that doesn’t make me want to fall asleep at the wheel.

 

 

The sportier redesign of the new Camry also reaches the interior. Ours had black leather, but available is another Ruby Flare Pearl option that you could probably see from outer space(only available for the XSE trim). Seating is comfortable and leg room is plenty sufficient. Toyota may get a small complaint on seat width from less svelte individuals. A triangular center stack that angels towards the driver doesn’t look out of place but doesn’t blow us away either. The bonus of this design permits more space for the passenger. Soft touch materials make up a good majority of the interior but a few harder plastics give away that it’s still a Toyota.  No Apple car play or Android autoplay is a bit of bummer, instead its equipped with a USB plug in, so bring your favorite copilot/DJ friend. At least they’ll be lounging spaciously beside you.

 

 Though a bit busy for my taste, the XSE Camry we reviewed definitely accomplishes a more aggressive look. With its two-toned front fascia and glossy honeycomb grill the new Camry could be mistaken for a more performance oriented car in the rearview. Our Camry came with upgraded full LED headlights that gave quite substantial visibility. Longer and wider than its predecessor, which I feel not only adds to its overall performance capabilities, but also its presence on the road. The panoramic sunroof is a feature we were all delighted in. A first for the Camry, so kudos to Toyota for that premium touch. Quad tip exhaust comes standard with both six and four cylinder options. LED’s lights reach the rear, accented by faux air vents that look a little too try hard, but we appreciate the effort. Black and silver 19 inch alloy wheels are the cherry on top for this new, sportier Camry.

 

Kudos to Toyota for their decision to give this year’s Camry some cohones for once. Nothing was necessarily wrong with the previous models, I mean they sold like hotcakes. Their only downside was how uninspiring to drive they were. Everything you needed to haul a family from A to B, but nothing that would widen your eyes and make you feel alive. I wouldn’t say that’s the whole story anymore. The handling is more responsive than ever. I’m sure that can be attributed to the TNGA chassis. The power output feels strong with linear pull from the new eight speed transmission, now giving something to look forward to when entering on ramps or discovering a new back road. Plus, some styling to get you noticed instead of ignored. The best parts are it does all this while still managing to be everything you desire from a Camry, and you’ll have no problems convincing your wife to get one.

                 

 

  + Comfortable and Spacious

     Perfect for a commute

     It’s going to be reliable

 

  -  Still low on cool points

     Subpar infotainment

 

Specs:

Engine: 3.5L V6

Drivetrain: FWD

Power: 301hp @ 6,600 rpm

Torque: 267 Lb-Ft @ 4,700 rpm

Transmission: 8 speed automatic

Curb Weight: 3,572 Lbs

Base Price: $34,950

Price as Tested: $35,495

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