Class: Midsize Car
Miles driven: 768
Fuel used: 31.3 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 24.5 mpg
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Driving mix: 40% city, 60% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/32/26 (city/highway/combined)
Base price: $34,950 (not including $895 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Driver Assist Package ($1050), special paint ($395), illuminated door sills ($299), carpeted mats ($224)
Price as tested: $37,813
The great: Strong, smooth acceleration; upscale feel inside and out
The good: Comfortable, roomy cabin
The not so good: Price premium for V6 model is especially steep
Good value is one thing; fun is another. In the Toyota Camry, which has long been renowned as a good value, those two states of being seem to have drawn closer together for 2018.
For folks whose idea of fun involves horsepower, the all-new eighth-generation Camry has more of it. The 3.5-liter V6 that was in the XSE model that Consumer Guide® tested is rated at 301 ponies, a gain of 33. (The 2.5-liter four is zestier than it formerly was, too.) In addition, the CG “Best Buy” in the midsize field has shed its make-no-waves styling for something a little more polarizing. Even if you don’t like it, at least it won’t make you yawn. Wheelbase and overall length are extended a bit. More room and added features are all part of the picture for ’18 as well.
XSE is the sport-oriented top trim level. A V6 version starts at $34,950, which is $5960 costlier than one with the four that gives up 95 horsepower. With options and delivery, the tested car showed a bottom line of $37,813.
Sporting appearance touches include 19-inch alloy wheels with a black finish, a gloss-black grille with mesh insert, a color-keyed decklid spoiler, and chrome-tipped outlets for the dual exhausts. Automatic LED headlights and a panoramic glass roof are other external features.
On the inside, leather wraps the steering wheel and seats. The XSE also comes with a Toyota Entune infotainment system with navigation, app suite, Bluetooth connectivity, and an 8-inch touchscreen; color head-up driving display; 7-inch thin-film-transistor vehicle information display; keyless entry and starting; dual-zone automatic climate control; and Qi wireless charging. Built-in safety technologies are a blind-spot monitor; rear cross-traffic alert; and the Safety Sense-P package of forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and mitigation, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
The XSE also comes with a sport-tuned version of suspension that includes a new multilink rear setup. With it, the Camry displays a good sense of control with a still-smooth ride and very good braking. It is—dare we say it—a Camry that’s fun to drive. A decent press on the gas pedal keeps the good times rolling with acceleration that will surprise buyers for whom this model is not their first Camry rodeo. For 2018, an 8-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous 6-speed unit. With perkier “Sport” mode selected, downshifts are perceptible—but not hard or jerky—as the car slows in tightening traffic. The powerteam draws estimated EPA fuel economy of 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. This driver recorded 23.9 mpg from his stint of 172 miles composed of 50 percent city-type operation—somewhat short of the EPA’s combined-mileage projection of 26 mpg.
There’s good head- and legroom in both rows, and under the right conditions a third adult could fit in the middle of the rear seat. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Driver vision is good to just about every angle, except, perhaps, where the somewhat-wide rear roof pillar comes into view. Drivers are confronted by large, colorful driving controls. The touchscreen and controls for audio and climate mix dials for station tuning and temperature selection with small, shallow toggle switches for other functions that aren’t as handy as the dials. Audio presets are easily input and accessed. Cabin storage is handled by a wide but low glove box, moderately sized console box, pockets on the backs of the front seats, door pockets (bigger in front) with bottle holders, and open cup holders set in the console and the armrest that pulls down from the center of the seat.
Trunk space is good and shaped well. It will hold a week’s groceries for two with plenty of room to spare. Additional space opens up when the split seatbacks are folded, though they rest a few inches above the trunk floor, which can complicate sliding long items forward.
With the new Camry, especially with the V6, you can come for the value and stay for the fun. Or vice versa.