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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 Toyota Camry
Since arriving in the U.S. nearly 35 years ago, the Toyota Camry has established a reputation for being safe, reliable, and, perhaps, a bit boring.
That’s not good enough for Toyota anymore. Modern times call for America’s bestselling car 15 years running to find new ways to stay relevant in the ultra-competitive midsize sedan segment. For the Camry’s eighth-generation, which arrived at dealerships in July, Toyota’s engineers and designers built a better mousetrap, with sharper looks and sportier performance.
The latest edition gets more power — the base model runs on a 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, and buyers can upgrade to a 301-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with upper trims — lending the formerly staid, front-wheel-drive sedan more oomph than rivals such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The car comes in five trims: a new, entry-level L grade, LE, SE, XLE, and XSE. Trunk space is copious, as is legroom for its five passengers. Toyota has packaged even its entry-level Camry with a decent array of standard features, including Bluetooth, a USB port, a 7-inch touch screen, and the manufacturer’s Entune infotainment system, which connects to mobile apps such as Pandora and OpenTable. The XLE and XSE V6 models get leather upholstery and heated front seats, as well as three USB ports, an 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, a nine-speaker audio system, a 10-inch color head-up display, and wireless smartphone charging. Toyota does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on any trim.
The 2018 Camry has not been tested by the two federal safety-ratings agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the 2017 model received excellent scores from both, and the 2018 version adds even more safety features. It comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, the manufacturer’s pre-collision system that includes automatic high beams, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. Other features, such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, are optional.
The Camry’s standard engine returns 29 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Models equipped with a V6 deliver about 22 mpg around town and 33 on the highway. The Camry also comes as a hybrid.
The 2018 Toyota Camry’s entry-level L grade starts at $23,495. The LE and SE trims begin at $24,000 and $25,200, respectively. The XLE starts at $28,450, and the top-of-the-line XSE trim begins at $29,000. Add $5,950 to outfit the XLE or XSE with a V6 engine.
What the experts are saying
“The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry represents a significant improvement over the last generation. Even though the Camry has been one of the best-selling vehicles for over 15 years, it’s now facing an uphill battle against the popularity of SUVs. It’s very accommodating inside, delivers a smooth ride, and has a massive trunk to keep it somewhat competitive. As with all Toyotas, the Camry comes standard with plenty of safety features, but it also lacks the infotainment tech found in competing cars. We recommend the SE trim for a more settled ride quality as well as for its styling. We also would stick with the four-cylinder engine rather than the V6 upgrade.” — Mark Takahashi, senior writer, Edmunds
Daring and athletic
“For its eighth-generation debut, the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry brings a lot what consumers have long loved about this family sedan as well as some things it’s never had. Among the former are easy driving manners, good value, laudable safety features, efficiency, and a reputation for reliability. In the latter camp are daring exterior styling and athletic manners that make the Camry fun to drive and put it on equal footing with the Honda Accord. About the only omission comes in the connectivity department, as Toyota continues to not offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration in its vehicles.” – Matt Degen, senior associate editor, KBB.com
Standard safety equipment
“IIHS is currently testing the redesigned 2018 Camry. Since the outgoing 2017 model earns our highest rating of Top Safety Pick+, we expect that the new model will perform well. Toyota is one of the leaders in moving ahead with making important crash prevention systems standard equipment on all of its vehicles. The most effective advanced technology so far is automatic emergency braking (AEB), which is standard on the 2018 Camry. This system is reducing front-into-rear crashes by half, and preventing injuries. Toyota should be commended for moving quickly to make these technologies standard on mainstream models.” –Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety