Toyota does not shy away from a challenge.
In the face of shrinking interest and sales of four-door sedans, Toyota has gone and made the evergreen Camry seriously better. This new Camry is easily the best ever, and sets a high bar for its cheapie rivals all the way up to cars like the Audi A4.
Nobody might have taken a Camry vs A4 battle very seriously until this generation.
This is not just hyperbole: we were firmly expecting a lightly re-heated model with updated tech and style for the 2018 redesign.
It is only since driving the top Camry XSE V6 that the newness claims really proved themselves. It is not hype: this Camry is a strong contender for the best midsize sedan ever made. We can think of no superiors until hitting the premium brand offerings.
Let’s floor the new 301HP sweetheart and see if the all-new platform and eight-speed automatic can really sing!
Drive Review Video
The exteriors of the new Camry range from fairly conservative at the base trim levels to the pretty wild and expressive top-line XSE of our tester. We got numerous comments about the coolness of its looks, with many noting the unexpectedness of the red leather inside.
The contrast roof also sets this trimlevel above the others, though the gloss black effect is only available in a few exterior colors like silver, white and possibly blue.
In terms of design, this XSE floors its visuals with a choppy contrast of surfaces for the nose – in a good way. The only element we didn’t genuinely love is the central grille with its 3D cross bar element housing the T badge. The rest of the look is sharp and far sexier than expected from this segment.
Favorite elements for this all-new platform? A change to the proportions and windshield rake is notable, and the wrapped elements of the bodywork around the wheels are intriguing and fresh. Camry ride height might be unchanged but the overall look of the vehicle is much lower, wider and more intense than its predecessor, or its rivals, for that matter.
As much variety as there is from the base Camry to the top XSE on the outside… the same is definitely true on the inside. The all-new-ness of the new Camry is instantly evident with the widescreen display, carved dash shapes and all-new switchgear. That’s right, folks: we have all-new and very high-quality switchgear for the first time in a decade.
Although subtle, these changes to minor details really reinforce how special this new Camry is.
None are more special than our XSE V6 with its contrast-black roof and full panoramic glass moonroof. This is the first time Camry has had this luxury feature – and we love how airy it makes the cabin feel. Unfortunately, the middle bar trim piece was coming off on our test car, but this is likely a quick fix.
Other things to love in the cabin abound – starting from the seats with their new, lower possible drive position and credibly sporty bolster support. The red leather of the test car even earned some admiring compliments on the road.
Refinement is excellent inside and the overall comfort also feels top notch. That the V6 Camry can feel so premium and so sporty while riding like a dream over big potholes?! Incredible.
Here is where the big jump in horsepower and introduction of the eight-speed automatic for this generation really pays dividends. The new chassis puts these element together to make a Camry that never feels nose-heavy or overwhelmed by its power. Yes, you can break the front wheels loose if you want, but the whole experience is planted and incredibly solid – much more-so than previous V6 Camrys of memory.
The sprint performance stays just about six seconds, so really not any quicker objectively than before. However, the ingear passing power and real-world top end power is leaps and bounds better than ever before. This is a car that can pass slower traffic like a boss and earns its quad exhaust pipes out back.
So is Camry a credible premium rival for this new generation? With the V6 engine, we say yes it absolutely is. This is a car with more cabin space, quality and style than any Acura TLX and most 3 series trims below $50k. Not to mention equipment! Camry is bursting at the seams with incredible value when you factor in how much of what’s standard on this XSE V6 would be optional on luxury sedans.
Camry is indeed the best it has ever been. The best gets even better! You’ll know in the first block what a changed and upgraded machine the new Camry really is.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.