Skip to main content

Toyota's New 2018 Camry Grill Avoids Lexus Spindle Grill Controversy

Grills are the most polarizing design elements in cars these days, but Toyota seems to have figured out the formula with the new 2018 Camry.


For 2018, the new Toyota Camry has a fresh look and a new grill design. No design element is more polarizing than a front grill on a new vehicle. As Honda learned the hard way with its "shield" grill design, a dramatic change up front can drive away as many new customers as it draws in new ones.

Toyota's Lexus division went with a controversial grill design about five years ago. The "Spindle" grill was inspired by Toyota's textile manufacturing past. The spindle grill was brash and bold and everything that is the opposite of boring. Many critics panned the new Lexus grill, and readers poured comments into publications under stories discussing the new design. Luckily for Lexus, the design was a huge sales success. When the IS compact sports sedan went first and adopted the new grill sales double almost instantly, and the spindle grill IS passed rivals from Audi and Infiniti in sales. The ES sedan, Lexus most mainstream premium sedan went next. Sales continued on stronger than ever. Finally, the RX crossover adopted the spindle grill and the RX continues to be the top-selling premium crossover in America.

Still, Lexus fans and owners were polarized by the design. To avoid this issue on its Toyota-branded models, Toyota opted not to use the spindle grill. Instead, Toyota is using a new, "catamaran" style grill for the all-new 2018 Camry, presently America's top-selling midsize sedan. The new design avoids the boring label. As one can see in the image above, the actual car looks a lot like the sketches by designers. The model shown is the XSE trim. On that trim, the grill has the most dynamic design. We have seen it in person and it looks great to our eye. Still, you may not see it that way. So for you, Toyota also has another less exciting grill that will appear on LE and XLE trims. It is sort of a "toned-down" grill that shoppers who favor a traditional look might like. The 301 hp V6 engine is available on both the XLE and XSE trims, so buyers don't have to choose between the catamaran grill and a V6.

Tell us what you think of the new design, and if you don't like the new design, tell us which 2018 model year midsize sedan appeals to you more and why.


Grills Are For… (not verified)    February 25, 2018 - 2:51PM

Blecchh. A spindle grill with rounded edges is still a spindle grill.

I've owned various Toyotas, Hondas, and Lexuses (Lexi?) over the last 25+ years but have NO interest in buying a vehicle that looks like a badly-designed Transformer toy.

Liana Underwood (not verified)    January 1, 2021 - 2:15AM

i had my heart set on a Camry, but I can't get past that ugly grill. Who would design that and why? Ugh. Looks like a giant shark mouth.