The 2018 Camry comes in four versions LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The SE and XSE get a set of Sport appearance upgrades that go beyond trims and finishes, Rocker panels are more sculpted, front and rear bumper designs are different (with a diffuser down below and a trunk lid lip up above in back), and the face has a more exaggerated, aggressive look with the same catamaran-style lower-bumper accents that Toyota has used elsewhere, to mixed results.
The 2018 Camry is within an inch of the 2017 model in length and width, but Toyota hasn’t yielded to the crossover crowd by making the new Camry taller or more upright. It has actually gone the other way; the hood is 1.6 inches lower, and the roofline is lower by 1.2 inches. That let the automaker drop the occupants’ seating heights an inch in front and 1.2 inches in back. The front seats have been resculpted, while the cowl, beltline, and dash have been lowered, adding to a more open feel inside the cabin. They’ll also get a mesh grille and smoke-tinted rear combination lamps, with 19-inch black machined-finish aluminum wheels reserved for the Camry XSE.
The Camry’s new dashboard does away with the former segmented T shape in favor of a more sweeping design, drawing inspiration from home furnishings while aiming for a more sculptural interior combined with warmer detailing. Mixed hues and tones on the interior move away from the former monotone themes.
Beyond appearances, Toyota calls the TNGA platform that underpins this Camry “a structural reform movement for the entire company that will result in cars that are more dynamic, athletic, and fun to drive.” It also claims that, with the new building blocks, “drivers will notice the dramatic improvements within the first few seconds of driving.” Given that previous generations of the Camry and Camry Hybrid
evolved so subtly, that’s a bold pronouncement.
Perhaps the greatest surprise in all of this, to gearheads, is that Toyota still hasn’t killed the V-6. Toyota cars
have subbed in the latest direct-injection 3.5-liter version for its flagship Camrys. The base 2.5-liter Dynamic Force inline-four has a higher compression ratio, a variable cooling system, multi-hole direct injectors, and variable valve timing, and Toyota says it will have higher power and torque ratings, although it has not yet specified those figures. It also claims better fuel efficiency than with the outgoing engine of the same displacement and phenomenal 40 percent thermal efficiency. A new eight-speed automatic transmission, with faster and more decisive shifts, should make the V-6 and four-cylinder versions more enjoyable.