Toyota is hoping to inject some vigor and flairÂ into the best-selling car in America. With the midsize-car market shrinking thanks to affordable gas and a generational shift toward crossovers, the Camry has lost ground for the second consecutive year. While it is undeniably clear that something needs to be done to recapture buyers’ attention, the methodology behind Toyota’s response is more enthusiastic thanÂ sound.
The companyÂ says the 2018 Camry has a new “emotionally-charged design,” but the mood its designers tapped into must have been bitter sadness. It is an almost unfortunately futuristic modeling of a car. Following some of theÂ Prius’ head-scratchingÂ stylingÂ cues, the Camry’s new look stands to be extremely polarizing.
Its face is exaggerated and slightly hostile, though theÂ merkinized grille seems to be covering up a damagedÂ â€” or perhaps missingÂ â€” piece of bumper.Â Thankfully, appearancesÂ aren’t everything.Â
While Toyota could have lifted the Camry and made it crossover adjacent, it ended up taking things in the opposite direction. The midsize is now about an inch lower across the board. Thanks to theÂ Toyota New Global Architecture, the Camry now possesses a lower hood height, roof line, hip point, and shoulder line, resulting in a lower center of gravity.
The automaker praises the TNGA platform asÂ â€œa structural reform movement for the entire company that will result in cars that are more dynamic, athletic, and fun to drive.â€� Toyota also believes that â€œdrivers will notice the dramatic improvements within the first few seconds of driving.”
That’s a pretty bold statement coming from steady-as-she-goes Toyota.
2018 Camrys will be available with a 3.5-liter V6 and a substantially improved 2.5-liter inline-four.Â Toyota says the updated base 2.5-literÂ will have superiorÂ power and torque ratings compared to its predecessor, thanks to higher-compression, intelligent variable valve-timing, and a 40-percent improvement on thermal regulation. Expect a significant increase in fuel economy. Both motors come paired with a new 8-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission.
Next-generation Toyota Camry Hybrids make use of the same inline-four motor mated to the THS II hybrid-electric system and a CVT that can mimic a six-speed DTC â€” the SE model even comes with paddle shifters.
Controversial looks notwithstanding, the next Camry should offer a better drive and more comfortable ride. Toyota is also stepping up the model’s standard safety with ten airbags, range-dynamic cruise control, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning with assisted steering.
Coming in four trim levels, theÂ SE and XSE models have stylistic differences from the LE and XLE that you couldÂ spot from orbit. The sport variants swap the limited’s already massive grille and begin tacking onÂ lower bumper accents, a diffuser, mesh, and just about anything else that will stick toÂ the front of that thing. SE and XSE trims also have larger wheels, unique rocker panels, different rear bumpers, and smoke-tinted taillights.
Toyota claims the interior will be spacious, with all of the important gauges angled toward the driver. Some models will include a trio of connected displays, including a 10-inch HUD, seven-inch multimedia display, and an eight-inch screen for navigation, climate,and audio controls.
While the Camry remains the best-selling car in America and the fourth-best-selling vehicle overall,Â its sales still slid by over 9.5 percent last year. Re-branding Toyota’s highest-volume car as a source of excitementÂ is a gamble. While attempting to add to the Camry’s appeal, Toyota runs the risk of alienating previous devotees.