2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 Review

Goodbye dull, hello sexy


Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer



Positives: Strong and linear power, sportier than ever before, high-quality interior materials, plenty of room inside.
Negatives: Trunk is on the smaller side, lacking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Bottom Line: The new 2018 Camry is the best it's ever been. It looks good, drives wonderfully, and provides a high-quality interior. It's at or near the top of its class in just about every category and reminds us why sedans are fantastic automobiles.
The sedan is going through a rough time right now. Sales for the vehicle type are down as more people turn to crossovers and SUVs. That said, the sedan market is still a huge one. To compete for a significant portion of the shrinking sedan pie, Toyota decided to liven up its stalwart family sedan. The 2018 Camry is all-new. It’s highly regarded by critics and consumers alike. To see just how good it really is, we spent a week with the sedan. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.3

 

Toyota’s new Camry uses the company’s new TNGA platform, which endows the model with ride and handling characteristics never before had in the model. We had the sporty ESX trim level with the V6 under the hood, and found it very enjoyable to drive.

Ride Quality: The car does a fantastic job of soaking up bumps without feeling too soft. There’s a balance to the suspension and chassis tuning that you don’t expect from a family sedan.

Acceleration: The V6 in our tester is capable of getting the car from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. It’s quick, but not as fast as Honda’s Accord with the 2.0T. Power delivery for the V6 is satisfyingly smooth and linear, which can’t be said of some competing turbocharged mills.

Braking: The Camry’s brakes feel strong and progressive. Stopping from 70 mph happens in a quick 167 ft., which beats Honda’s Accord by a few feet.

Steering: The steering is precise and well-weighted. The electronically assisted system lacks much feedback, though.

Handling: There’s little body roll, and the car holds the road well. It’s one of the most confidence inspiring cars in its segment save for the Honda Accord.

Technology

7.9

 

Toyota didn’t forget about technology in its redesign. The new Entune infotainment system is better than ever before, but it still lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota also includes a 10-inch Head-up display on XSE V6 models that works very well.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch touchscreen display is clear and smartly laid out. The system looks more modern than before and the interface is easier to navigate.

Controls: The touchscreen responds quickly to inputs and the buttons to either side of the screen work well. That said, we find a clear line of buttons beneath the screen work better, like the system found in Hyundai’s Sonata. The steering wheel controls also work well and are intuitively placed.

Styling

8.7

 

The new Camry is the best-looking vehicle in its class, especially in sporty XSE trim. The car looks low and wide and has an athletic stance that oversells its sportiness a little. All in all, if you want a fantastic looking family sedan, this is a smart choice.

Front: The front features a blacked-out mesh grille, angular headlights and Toyota’s badge front and center. It’s a more aggressive front end than the previous model and helps set it apart from the non-sporty side of the Camry lineup.

Rear: The rear of the car features horizontally oriented wraparound taillights. Across the back spelled out in large letters is the word “Camry” and above that the Toyota badge. The quad exhaust tips sit to either side of the faux diffuser. It’s a sportier look than ever before and quite attractive.

Profile: The car’s best look is from the side. Here you really see how low-slung the sedan is. There are a few strong character lines that run down the side of the car, and the 19-inch black alloy wheels look large and fill the fenders well.

Cabin: Inside, things are a little busy, with the dash coming together into a funky Y-shaped pattern at the center stack. Despite the multiple lines and layers, the cabin looks pretty good. Toyota upped the ante with the quality of materials, and it shows.

Comfort

9.2

 

The new Camry might be focused on providing a more engaging driving experience, but Toyota didn’t forget that it still needs to provide a comfy cabin and seats. The Camry delivers in this department as well.

Front Seats: The leather-trimmed sport seats in the XSE model provide plenty of adjustment, support and bolstering. Leg, hip, and headroom are generous.

Rear Seats: The rear seat provides similar levels of support and materials. Leg, hip and headroom should be more than adequate for most passengers.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Camry feels solid. We noticed no squeaks or rattles. Road and wind noise were at a minimum as well.

Visibility: Sightlines on the car are good. We had no trouble with the placement or thickness of any of the pillars.

Climate: The dual-zone climate control system does an excellent job of cooling off or heating up the cabin quickly. Our tester also came with heated seats. They worked fast and were powerful. Unfortunately, you can't get ventilated seats in the Camry in any trim.

Safety

9.7

 

The Toyota Camry has always been a safe car. The 2018 model is one of the safest vehicles you can buy. It received high marks from both the IIHS and the NHTSA. It also has a longer list of standard safety equipment than most cars.

IIHS Rating: The Camry received a Top Safety Pick+ rating. It got “good” ratings in every single category.

NHTSA Rating: Toyota’s Camry got a five-star overall safety rating, acing every NHTSA category.

Standard Tech: Toyota gives the Camry a long list of standard safety technology, including pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, smart stop tech, blind spot monitoring, backup camera, and traffic alert.

Optional Tech: Our tester also came with Toyota’s Bird’s Eye View Camera.

Storage/Cargo

8.4

 

Toyota has smartly crafted its center console, providing plenty of storage spaces in a small area. Its trunk is pretty standard in shape and not the largest in its class.

Storage Space: There are two cup holders in the center console, a storage space under the armrest, and a cubby in front of the shifter. There’s also a cool little shelf for your phone that slides in and out allowing you to put your phone out of sight and hopefully out of mind while driving.

Cargo Room: The trunk offers 15.1 cubic feet of space, which is decent, but not as good as the Honda Accord’s 16.7 cubic feet or the Hyundai Sonata’s 16.3 cubic feet.

Fuel Economy

8.8

 

Because our tester came with the V6 we didn’t expect astounding fuel economy numbers. That said, the Camry performs well despite its six pot engine. It actually has the same EPA numbers as the 2.0T Accord.

Observed: 29.6 mpg

Distance Driven: 503 miles

Driving Factors: We drove a mix of highway and city driving, but we spent more time on the highway than we did in urban environments.

Audio

8.8

 

The 9-speaker JBL audio system with Clari-Fi provides excellent sound to the cabin and is a notable upgrade from the basic 6-speaker system that comes standard on lower trim levels of the car. It provides rich, full-bodied sound, and is standard on the XSE V6 trim level.



Final Thoughts

The Camry is better than ever before. The sedan features an improved interior, dramatic exterior, and more exciting driving dynamics than the previous model. The competition in this segment is fierce, but the Camry holds its place near the top of the heap. If you aren’t looking for a crossover, this is one of the best affordable cars of the year.
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