I’m not sure if Toyota is trying to be funny here, but it seems like they are. They literally write the words: “All-New 2018 Toyota Camry Gains Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience” in their press release for the car.
Has no one told them the Camry is the automotive equivalent of imitation mayonnaise? It’s not even real mayonnaise, it’s fugazi mayonnaise. It aspires to be this bland white stuff suburbanites slather onto Wonder bread. “Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience?”
It’s as emotionally charged as a Perry Como concert and they expect me to believe it’s like an Iggy and The Stooges show in Detroit circa 1971? Are they mental?
Yeah, yeah, near as I can tell, they’re on the verge of going boi-oi-oing here. Look, don’t get me wrong. The Toyota Camry is good, solid, practical transportation. It’s what your great aunt Winifred ends up buying, not The Little Old Lady From Pasadena. It’s the automotive parallel of a no-salt saltine. A Toyota Camry is not a bright red, shiny, super-stock Dodge that will detach your retinas upon letting go of the clutch. Quite the contrary, the Camry is sense and sensibility. It’s muted beige paint in a world of ecru gone wild.
It is also not a bad choice if you want a good, reliable car that gets you from A to B in comfort and safety with solid efficiency. If you don’t really care about cars all that much, the Toyota Camry is the car for you.
The new Camry utilizes what Toyota refers to as TNGA, or Toyota New Global Architecture. Essentially TNGA is the new platform that everything Toyota will be based off of. It’s the way Toyota will design, engineer, and package its vehicles going forward.
Toyota extended the Camry’s wheelbase by two inches, which made it easier aesthetically to drop the roof and hood height. This also lowered the center of gravity and created a wider, more planted vehicle. From here, packaging benefits continue to flow. The driver’s seating position is lower and near the center of the car, for example. The steering column can be adjusted over a wider range, and the hood, cowl, and dashboard height have all been dropped for better outward visibility. Visibility is also aided by the reworked A-pillar and side mirror placement.
Chassis-wise, things have gotten stiffer for the Camry, which is always a good thing: Make the body stiffer and, therefore, let the suspension do its thing better. The new Camry has increased the use of ultra-high-tensile steel and has implemented a new molding technology to deliver this enhanced structural rigidity. There’s a new double wishbone rear suspension system out back for responsive handling, well-defined steering, and great ride quality. They’ve even reworked the engine mounts with a new, four-point mounting system for better road manners and to reduce unwanted noise, vibration, and harshness in the passenger compartment.
That said, kudos to Toyota for at least thinking about bringing driving dynamics to the forefront of the new Camry. Toyota wants the new Camry to “highly impress” the driver with its handling capability and composure. Does it? Dunno. Car’s not out yet, but here’s the deal Toyota: Grab a new one off the line and deliver it to 1 Automoblog Tower in Detroit, and we’ll run the bejeebers out of it on the tracks and AutoX’s and late night runs into Ontario, and well let you know if we’re “highly impressed” with its handling capability and composure.
Toyota says customers will “notice the dramatic improvements within the first few seconds of driving” the 2018 Camry.
Power & Performance
Motivational power comes from your choice of three engines: either a new 3.5-liter V6, an all-new 2.5-liter inline-4 gasoline engine, which comes mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission, or a next-generation Toyota Hybrid System.
The (hysterically named) 2.5-liter 4-cylinder “Dynamic Force Engine” focuses on higher torque, higher power, and lower fuel consumption. Toyota has reworked the combustion chamber for higher tumble air flow, which results in faster and cleaner burning of the air/fuel mixture. With the focus on torque, it’s unsurprising that the engine is a long-stroke and high compression ratio layout that also features multi-hole direct fuel injectors, a variable cooling system, and an improved Variable Valve-Timing layout.
Toyota says the Dynamic Force Engine (snicker) is 40 percent more thermally efficient, which makes it one of the best in the world in this segment.
Interior Treatments & Tech
There’s a whole slew of other stuff sprinkled onto and into the new Camry like so many Chocolate Jimmies on a sundae. There’s Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of safety features, there’s 10 standard airbags, Toyota’s Star Safety System, there’s enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System, Smart Stop Technology, and even a standard backup camera.
The front seats have improved ergonomics and the rear seats are more refined. There’s Toyota’s latest Human Machine Interface (which I thought was a Kraftwerk album), a 10-inch color Heads-Up Display (HUD), a seven-inch multi-information display within the instrument cluster, an eight-inch audio/navigation display, and an HVAC control panel all of which say six things: Money, money, money and tech, tech, tech.
There’s enough multimedia toys to make you feel like you’re in a rolling version of Nam Jun Pak’s garage sale. A Toyota Entune 3.0 multimedia system with navigation, App Suite Connect, Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link with Moving Maps, or Dynamic Navigation system (in the V6 models), wireless map updates, available Remote Connect, Service Connect, available WiFi Connect, and even a JBL premium audio system with enough speakers and amps to render you as deaf as Felix Pappalardi.
Look, I fully understand not everyone wants a new Ferrari 812 Superfast or an AMG wagon with enough power to blast a six pack into lunar orbit. Those cars are for crazy people like me. You might be sensible type and not suicidal. You want good, solid, reliable, and efficient transportation. You want a Camry and this one promises to be the best yet.
The 2018 Toyota Camry will be available in four grades: LE, XLE, SE, and XSE.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.