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Parks McCants's picture

2018 Toyota Camry Flirts With Affordable Perfection

Short Story: I’m captivated by the visual re-do of the iconic Toyota Camry. Toyota design did a commendable job of elevating the mark’s bread and butter sedan to the next level in Lexus-like body styling. Does Camry’s drive performance live up to its new found dynamic body Styling?

Last week John Goreham our Toyota expert at Torque News, compared 2018 Toyota Camry to the reinvented Honda Accord. Although he was beat up a bit by a reader or two for what they perceived as Toyota-brand bias, as I sat in Paris France reading John's article, I thought he’d given both auto brands their fair do.

Truthfully, after spending ample drive time in 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6, and the reinvented 2018 Honda Accord lineup, I’ve come to the fair conclusion that both makers offer a quality product at a fair market price; but there is a measurable difference between the two lineups that goes way beyond brand recognition and price point.

2018 Toyota Camry attempts drivetrain perfection without turbocharging

Today, as automakers both domestic and foreign embrace small-displacement, low friction, turbocharged engines, 2018 Toyota Camry XSE presents a 3.5 Liter normally aspirated V6 engine and an historically correct 8-speed automatic transmission, 2018 Honda Accord doesn’t.

In speaking with Toyota engineers at last years 2018 Toyota Camry press reveal, through an interpreter, I was told by Japan’s #1 auto brand that turbocharging was not required to maintain Camry’s sales position in the U.S.. In short, the engine, drivetrain choice for 2018 Toyota Camry is driven by “cost per unit” savings.

Furthermore, through low-friction cylinder, dual-stage induction and fuel delivery, Toyota has improved Camry fuel efficiency without turbocharging or relying on CVT (continuously variable transmission) technology. True enough, in my recent week behind the wheel of 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6, I discovered ample peddle, and thanks to a redesigned suspension, a very decent ride dynamic.

Yet, where 2018 Toyota Camry does excel in old-school V6 exhaust tone and mid to high range torque, It falls a bit flat in low range torque, and off-the-light sprint speed, when compared to 2018 Honda Accord’s 2.0 L turbocharged 4 cylinder gasoline engine.

Honda Accord’s Type-R derived VTEC Turbo, smokes the 3.5L V6 engine in available just-off-idle torque; although be it ( perhaps) just a tad more raucous getting there. However, for the daily driver, the difference may be inconsequential; so let’s look a bit closer. We take 2018 Honda Accord 2.0 Touring for a romp.

2018 Toyota Camry Interior Comfort and accommodations

For me, the most important consideration when assessing a car or light truck is drivers seat comfort, placement and adjustability. 2018 Camry in all trim levels driven presents one of the best overall driver seats in the midsize sedan segment. The leather trimmed and fabric seat feels broken-in on first seating.

For 2018, Toyota redesigns Camry’s cockpit, dash layout, gauge cluster and center stack. Visually, I appreciate the Lexus inspired sweep of Camry’s dash, the hand-stitched-like leather and fabric seating surfaces, and in the case of the fully loaded XSE the best heads up display in the business.

Toyota design does an exceptional job of hard to soft surface interface, and multiple color combination trim treatments; although be it a bit plastic-rich in places. In the evening, our 2018 Camry XSE puts on an impressive interior light show with dimmed blue convenience and accent lighting. With the multiple speaker stereo system set to a background music level, Camry settles into a welcome refined night ride.

However, on the personal electronic connectivity side of the auto equation, you won’t find Android auto or Apple Carplay, as featured in 2018 Honda Accord. Toyota utilizes their own proprietary connectivity and hands-free interface, it works. However, Toyota may wish to up the charging and connectivity port count, it’s a bit anemic in 2018 Camry. In my latest test drive I found smartphone connectivity to be easy enough, and relied on my phone for navigation, so will you.

Unlike Honda Accord, Toyota Camry retains a manual select shift for transmission duty. I find it’s placement to be a tad clumsy in relationship to the available cordless charging pad and bin storage. Our XSE test mule comes complete with wheel mounted paddle shifting. It works, yet is not often needed.

2018 Toyota Camry XSE flirts with V6 powered affordable perfection

Surprisingly, after driving 2018 Toyota Camry XSE rather aggressively under mixed driving conditions for the week, I discovered an average MPG of 25.5. On regular gasoline. That’s pretty impressive for a V6 powered front-wheel-drive car that approaches 2 tons in curb weight. And that note takes me back to Camry’s road handling. Toyota’s premium midsize 4-door touring sedan tends to ride and handle a little heavier than the competition.

Camry sacrifices a bit of handling in the s-curves for highway cruising refinement. 2018 Toyota Camry punctuates 5 passenger daily commute comfort; and does so at a reasonable price point.

For 2018 Toyota places an emphasis on driver and passenger safety by integrating Toyota Safety Sense,standard at all trim levels. 2018 Camry is exactly what Toyota purports it to be; the next generation manifestation of the #1 selling 4-door sedan in North America.

Camry looks a bit more dynamic than it drives. However, at the price point, remains an overall automotive performance bargain. Read John’s latest 2018 Toyota Camry review here. I recommend a comparison test drive between 2018 Toyota Camry and the reinvented Honda Accord for anyone considering the purchase of a sub-premium 4-door sedan.

What I like: Body styling, interior comfort, freeway ride dynamic, fuel economy.

What I’d change: A bit more 2nd row legroom, active electronic noise cancellation, stiffer cornering dynamic, upgrade(some) interior plastic details.

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Comments

I took a long look at the 2018 Camry at a local dealership. The problem with Toyota’s unwillingness to support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is that their attempt at an in-house navigation system, Entune/Scout GPS, has an antiquated and awkward user interface (read the horrible reviews). Feature-wise it doesn’t come close to the software knowledge of an Apple or Google. And Toyota only lets you use this navigation system for three years, and then you have to pay them again to continue using it. One of the reasons I want a new car is to have Google Maps/real-time traffic mapping on the dashboard - but you can't have this on the Camry. It’s a deal-breaker for me. Other drawbacks: a too-small information display too low down on the dash and no wireless connection for your phone. Doesn’t Toyota realize that in-car information technology is the new competitive battlefield for the automotive industry?
Agreed Graham! however, Toyota factory purchase incentives and standard featured 2-year maintenance program continues to bring buyers to the brand. I too am surprised that Toyota falls short on ease of connectivity and Infotainment. Cheers!