BEHIND THE WHEEL: The 2018 Toyota Camry still vanilla, but with a cherry on top


By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press

On June 21, 2017 at 7:00 a.m. EST the Toyota folks are allowing the world to see the brand spanking new 2018 Toyota Camry. I had the chance to drive it last week in Portland, Oregon.

It did not disappoint.

The word “vanilla” had been bandied around by the Toyota suits referring to their dependable brand favorite, but the promise is “the 2018 version of the Camry is anything but.”

Expected to go on sale in mid-July, here are some highlights of what to expect if you are a Toyota brand lover. Or, even if you just want to dip your toe into the idea of it.

After all, owning a vehicle like the Camry might just be a lifetime decisions. Let’s face it, the Toyota Camry is said to go and go and go.

Last year there were 400,000 sold in the United States.

This is actually the Camry’s eighth generation and it has been fully built this time around using the new Toyota Global architecture platform with standard Toyota safety sense. Referred to as TNGA platform that means a lower center of gravity, increased visibility, improved structure and a reduced NVH.

There are also many Toyota firsts on the 2018 Camry from the 10-inch color head-up display to the bird’s eye view camera, cockpit red interior and even the three (up from one) USB ports.

The trims include the entry level L and LE with an emphasis on classic refinement; the Luxury XLE with either an L4 or V6 engine offering intelligent luxury as the Toyota folks described or the sporty SE or the XSE with the L4 or the XSE with the V6 engine offering styling and performance. The hybrid comes in HV LE, HV SE or the HV XLE and these additionally come in a luxury or sport option.

A big plus for 2018 on the hybrid model is the battery has been moved to a location where you can actually use the space the battery has taken up in the past. To that, there is a 60/40 seat option in the Toyota Hybrid now.

Under the hood there are two new gas powertrains. The new 2.5L inline four-cylinder dynamic force engine and the 3.5L V6 D-4S dual injection engine. There is also the new direct shift 8-AT transmission. For the hybrid option, there are three grades and each offer its own variety of experiences.

On the four-cylinder options you get 203 horsepower or on the XSE 206. With the V6 engine it’s a 301 horsepower ride and all Camry trims come in front wheel drive.

Using the latest active Toyota safety technology, safety features are many. In some cases certain safety feature might only be available on certain trims though. Otherwise, the safety list includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, rear cross traffic braking, electric parking brake, blind spot monitoring, anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake assist, enhanced vehicle stability control, electronic brake-force distribution, smart stop technology and hill assist control, 10 standard airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The exterior is sensual and smart overall. There are three new colors for 2018 and you can even choose from two tone roof colors should you be so inclined.

I tested the LE with not only the driver and me in the front seat passenger, but also we had three adults in the backseat. No problem and everyone looked comfortable. Certainly not for long hauls, it’s still good for five people if you are just jaunting around town.

Comfort and handling couldn’t be better on this Camry too since the double wishbone rear suspension and newly developed shock absorbers. There is also the new four-point engine mounting system, which reduces unwanted noise and vibration.

Overall, the design goals on the 2018 Toyota Camry was all about a lower center of gravity and an emotionally styled cabin that would shout “there is a Camry for everyone.”

Take note of the bold and aggressive front end. Consider you can choose from the all out sleek with a sporty vibe trim or the higher end luxury trimmings that come with impressive luxury features.

While there is much to choose from for 2018 when it comes to making a Camry purchase you can still be sure of one thing. You will have a set of wheels that will not only get you around town, but in style and with a little pep in the step along the way.

Even better, the starting cost of the 2018 Toyota Camry is $23,495 and the top end price is $34,950. The hybrid version will start at around $27,800.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.