Toyota Camry, Honda Accord. For years, those were the two midsize sedans that duked it out in this category. Both of these stalwarts have had to step it up in recent years due to increased competition from Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan and more.
For 2018, the Toyota Camry gets a makeover. After years of phoning it in, Toyota delivers with this redesign of an old favorite which should make the Camry even more popular. Sales figures are already impressive. Not only was the Camry the best-selling midsize car in the U.S. for 2017, it was also the best-selling car overall last year.
The five-passenger Camry is available in five trims plus a hybrid: L, LE, SE, XLE and XSE. Starting prices range from $23,495 to $34,950 for my tester, the XSE V6. The Camry Hybrid starts at $27,800.
The base powertrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. My tester has the more powerful V6 that produces 301 hp and 267 lb.-ft. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic.
The Camry is still all about a comfortable and smooth ride, but is definitely zipper than the outgoing models. While you won’t mistake it for a sports car, it no longer has its old sleepy handling. It’s peppier off the line and the steering is more communicative. There are Eco, Normal and Sport settings so you can tweak the performance to your liking. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is pretty good for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with a combined rating of 26 mpg. I got 25 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. The four-cylinder engine is rated at 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32 mpg combined, one of the best ratings for a midsize sedan.
The interior is much improved. The sea of hard plastic is gone; most materials are now soft-touch and the fit and finish looks and feels more upscale. Seats are spacious and comfortable, although headroom may be a bit lacking for taller passengers.
The infotainment system is more user-friendly and includes Toyota’s Entune interface, Siri Eyes Free, Google voice controls, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Although Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are still not available in any Toyota models (Hello, Toyota? It’s 2018!), at least the infotainment system lets you easily integrate your smartphone so you can access apps and navigation. However, the infotainment screen can be hard to see sometimes due to glare and reflections.
Standard features on all Camrys include cloth upholstery, a seven-inch touch screen, and six speakers. Upper trims get many other features including proximity key, push-button start, single- and dual-zone climate control, panoramic moonroof, eight-inch touch screen, nine-speaker JBL sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, integrated navigation, three USB ports and wireless smartphone charging.
All Camrys come standard with many safety and driver assistance features including rearview camera, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Optional features are blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear cross traffic braking, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control.
Trunk space has been reduced to 15.1 cubic feet and is now below average for midsize sedans. The large hinges also eat into the available space. The rear seats are 60/40 split-folding.
The 2018 Camry does well in crash tests. NHTSA gives it an overall score of five out of five stars, and it earns a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
More fun to drive than the outgoing Camry
Decent fuel economy
Many safety and driver assistance features are standard
Intuitive infotainment system
Excellent crash test ratings
Toyota still doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
Less trunk space than many competitors
My tester starts at $34,950. Driver Assist package is $1,050 and includes a bird’s eye view camera. The navigation package is $940 and includes Entune 3.0 Premium Audio with JBL with Clari-Fi, Dynamic Navigation and App Suite. The “special color” is $395. Delivery fee is $895, bringing the grand total to $38,230.
The redesigned Toyota Camry is great for families and gives you a lot of car for the money. A long list of standard features and driver assistance technologies, peppier performance and excellent crash test ratings put the Camry back at or near the top of the super competitive midsize sedan category.