Toyota: Continuing its reputation for quality.
Before I get started with all the new features and style upgrades on the new 2018 Toyota Camry, let’s talk about what Toyota has been getting right over and over again, making the Camry a best-seller for decades.
When our family was shopping for a full-size sedan with good fuel economy in 2011 we did a lot of research and listened to a lot of drivers. The Camry was by far the most recommended vehicle. So, we bought a barely-used 2010 XLE and joined the ranks of loyal Toyota customers. 212,000 miles later, the little white car is still going strong and if I needed another family car today, I’d buy a Toyota.
Known for lasting practically forever, the Camry has quite a fan-base. It’s never been the most outrageously fashionable car on the market or touted any spectacular features. I’d even go so far as to say it’s been a fairly boring car that is chosen for its reliability and practicality rather than its looks.
Until this year.
The 2018 Toyota Camry Is a Made-Over Sedan
My first look at the new body style was a two-toned XLE Hyrbid on turn-table display at the 2017 DFW Auto Show. It was a stark Wind Chill Pearl with Midnight Black Metalic roof and rear spoiler that looked more like a BMW than a Toyota. It demanded attention and got it.
So, when A Girls Guide to Cars asked if I’d like to drive the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid for a week, I said yes. 1, because I’m a Camry owner and I’m always curious what has changed over the years. And 2, because I reviewed the 2015 Camry and was left a little under-whelmed. I mean, I liked it, as far as Camrys go, but the 2015 makeover felt like a step backward design-wise. I’d already been blown away by the exterior of the 2018 Camry so I couldn’t wait to see what Toyota had done to the inside.
As it turns out, a lot!
Who this car is for
- Anyone who needs a 4-door sedan, but doesn’t want to sacrifice looks or features
- People who spend a lot of time commuting and need the fuel economy of a hybrid
- Drivers who want the option of having a little fun (AKA Sport Mode!)
- Singles, couples or small families
- Drivers looking for an affordable 4-door sports sedan that holds its value and lasts practically forever.
What it costs
The 2018 Toyota Camry comes in ten different model packages, ranging from the L (Base) to the XSE V6. The prices range a lot depending on whether you want a V6 or not, or a hybrid, and which style/interior package you choose. There really is something for everyone!
- The L base price is $23,495
- The Hybrid XLE starts at adds $32,250
- The XSE starts at $34,950
- Total for model I drove: $37,640
Toyota Listens to Their Customers
Having driven a Camry for 6 years, I can tell you I have a small list of things I’d ask Toyota to change.
The first is an external trunk release. My 2010 doesn’t have one. If I want to open the trunk I have to hunt through my bag for my keys and hold down a button. Or, open the driver’s door (which I probably had to unlock after hunting for my keys and pressing a button…) and pull the release by the driver’s door. Neither of these is convenient when your hands are full of kids and groceries. I can usually find a spare finger to push a button, but I don’t have that option! I was incredibly tickled to find Toyota has included a very easy to find and press trunk release on the back of the car. And, thanks to the proximity un-lock feature, if I’ve got the keys close to the car it’s going to pop open when I push the button, even if the car is locked.
Speaking of proximity unlock, every car should have this! I’ve got the keys in my bag, I walk up to my car door, and it unlocks for me. No digging for the keys. And once I’m inside I still don’t have to hunt for them because I’ve got the push-button start.
One of these days we’re not going to need keys at all!
More features to make a driver happy
The next feature I was really impressed by was the folding rear seats. So many times I’ve wished my car’s rear seats would fold down to extend my truck space for larger items. In the 2018 Toyota Camry they do, and it’s super easy! The rear seats also come equipped with child-seat anchors galore, so if you have small kids, you’re going to love the ease with which you can properly install a child-seat for safe travels.
The side-view mirror controls have moved to the door panel. Personally, I hate having to bend forward to reach the controls on my dash, then sit back and see if I adjusted the mirror right, then repeat these steps till I can see what’s behind me. I’ve always wondered why these weren’t easier to reach! In the 2018 Camry I can adjust the mirrors without moving my torso, or even looking at the buttons. I feel a lot safer and its just so much more convenient.
Cruise control is now on the steering wheel, meaning Toyota was able to get rid of one of the appendages protruding from the steering collum. I think this is not only more convenient for the driver, but it cleans up the whole look. Less clutter is always a good thing. Want paddle shifters? You can get those too!
Two words for you. Sport. Mode.
Dear Toyota, this button makes me the happiest, most giddy driver, every single time. When I hop into a car and see that button I know I’m going to have fun!
Sport mode turns an otherwise practical vehicle into a sports car. Sure, it kills your fuel economy ratings and you wouldn’t want to use it all the time, but when you come upon a mile-long straight stretch and you’ve just got to put the pedal to the metal, sport mode will make your day. I won’t say exactly how fast I went, but let’s just say that more than double the speed limit for a secondary highway in the state of Texas is pretty fast.
Drop from that to Eco mode with the push of a button and you and your passengers will have a good laugh as the car literally sighs and goes limp. (Save the Eco mode for city driving… you’ll appreciate it there a lot more than on the open road!)
What’s New for the 2018 Toyota Camry
The flat dash is just incredible. Usually, an infotainment screen is set into the dash and feels like a separate piece of equipment. Toyota has done away with this, making the front of the 8″ screen part of the dash so the whole thing is flush and fluid. It really adds to the luxurious feel of the interior and makes the nav screen look even larger.
The details on the upholstery are one of my favorite upgrades. We have leather in our 2010 Camry, but it doesn’t feel like anything special. The 2018’s leather seats are SHARP. I love that even the back seats look like they belong in a luxury vehicle. And of course, you get an 8-way powered driver’s seat for ultimate customizable comfort.
Wireless charging for your cellphone is a great addition to the Camry! Many Camry owners buy the car for. long commutes and it only makes sense that they’d be charging their phone while driving. I have an iPhone so I didn’t get to try this out, but my hubby says it’s incredible to not need cords!
Toyota now offers their active safety package that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control as standard features on all the Camry models. This means you can drive with confidence, knowing you will be alerted to potential dangers and be able to relax a little while using cruise control on the highway. Also standard for the Camry are 10 airbags for increased safety and Toyota’s Star Safety System which includes six very important features like traction control, anti-lock breaks, brake assist and more.
The model we drove also came with automatic high beams that worked flawlessly. This is one of those features that makes me love new cars. Like, why didn’t someone think of that years ago? And beautiful, symmetrical, LED lights all around!
The 10″ color heads-up display is a really nice added touch for the 2018 Toyota Camry. Now you can keep your eyes up, on the road, and still see all the important information… like how fast you’re driving! If you do need to shift your gaze down you’ll enjoy a full-color 7″ multi-information display on the dash that is customizable.
The hybrid XLE gets an estimated 44-47 miles per gallon fuel economy. We averaged around 41, but we were driving country roads and through the Ouachita mountain ranges, so we rarely entered that sweet spot where you’re getting to experience the great fuel economy ratings this car is known for.
The Camry’s available bird’s eye view camera with perimeter scan is great for checking your surroundings before you take off. I’ve seen this in trucks, but this was my first time experiencing this safety feature on a sedan and I hope to see this as an option on more family cars in the near future! My husband took a video of this. (Please note the noise in the video is from the Challenger Hellcat parked next to us, not the Camry!)
And it looks sexy.
Toyota got it right this time!
The 2015 makeover of the Camry left me feeling sad. It felt too young and like Toyota was trying too hard to cater to a much younger audience. I just couldn’t take the car seriously. This time around, Toyota got it right. The Camry is sportier than ever, but it’s also classier than ever in a very non-traditional way. The catamaran-inspired accents give the exterior a very sleek and fashionable style that can only be described as a beautiful woman in an evening gown that fits just right.
The two-toned model with its available quad exhaust with chrome tips and 19″ black alloy wheels is a show-stopper for sure! And while the model I drove was a solid Wind Chill Pearl, it was still one of the prettiest sedans I’ve driven.
My One, Singular Complaint
I’ve got to be honest with you. I love new cars and I tend to overlook the little things I don’t care for because I know I’m picky and most of these things are personal taste. But this one thing? I just can’t.
I am not sure what the developer of this technology was thinking, but it wasn’t “How can I make this user-friendly?”
My husband, my brother, and I (we’re all web developers and programmers… no strangers to technology) all tried to figure this thing out. We installed the two required apps as prompted. About 1/3 of the time the car would actually connect to our phone’s apps. The rest of the time we got error messages. We got the maps to work once, and we drove this car a LOT in the week we had it. Oh! And some of the features only worked when our cell phones had service. This is a big issue if you’re lost somewhere!
Please bring back a pre-loaded map that does not require a connection to my phone. All the cool remote features are great, but installing an app to use your navigation system should not be required.
There. I said it. If you’ve experienced the Entune™ 3.0 system and have some insight for me, please help a girl out! I’d love to know what I’m missing. 😀
WHAT WE LOVED:
- Bird’s Eye view camera
- Relocated cruise and side mirror controls
- Wireless charger
- Fold-down rear seats for extended truck space
- Fantastic fuel economy
- Updated, sleek body design
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Eco mode works best around 55 mph
- Wifi Connect is powered by Verizon
- While many of the safety features now come standard on the Camry, the Bird’s Eye view camera, Remote Connect, and Intelligent Clearance Sonor are add-on features.
Disclosure: The Toyota Camry was provided for my review. All opinions are my own.