One of Canada's best-known and most-trusted vehicle nameplates is all new for 2018 with the launch of a redesigned Toyota Camry family sedan.
This marks the eighth generation of the Camry since its inception 35 years ago, and the first built on the Toyota New Global Architecture, a vehicle platform the manufacturer says lends the new sedan better handling and overall performance.
There's no doubt this is the most eye-catching Camry yet, with extroverted front-end styling that belies this model's reputation for automotive mundanity. The range continues to be split into two lines: L models (L, LE and XLE) are aimed at the more traditional Camry buyer, while sport-oriented S models (SE and XSE) get a more aggressive appearance. That L trim level is new this year, applied to a base model that undercuts last year's starting price, without depriving buyers of all comfort and convenience features.
Toyota says the 2018 Camry also brings the brand's first in-vehicle connectivity features, putting traffic information, news and sports headlines and fuel prices at the driver's fingertips. There's also Scout GPS Link, a Toyota-specific smartphone integration app that works with its Entune audio systems.
Sales of mid-size sedans continue to come under attack from the SUVs and crossovers that many families now prefer, and so you can look at this new Camry as Toyota's effort to keep the family sedan relevant for as long as it can. But in spite of its new looks don't expect this car to drive much differently than its predecessors: Despite Toyota's insistence its new platform architecture will improve the car's dynamics, this car remains a distinctly middle-of-the-road vehicle designed to appeal to as many people as possible.
Under the new hood are what Toyota calls re-engineered versions of its 2.5L four-cylinder and 3.5L V6 engines, now producing up to 206 and 301 hp respectively. An eight-speed automatic transmission is new, replacing last year's six-speed. Of seven trims, five use the four-cylinder, and a pair at the top of the range get the six-cylinder.
Camry's new entry-level trim is the L model, priced at $26,390 and equipped with LED head- and taillights, heated front seats, 16-inch steel wheels with covers, 4.2-inch multi-information display, seven-inch Entune display audio system, backup camera and the Toyota Safety Sense P active safety suite, which comprises pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, radar cruise control (for speeds over 40 km/h) and lane departure alert with steering assist.
The LE trim adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power driver's seat with lumbar, split-folding rear seat with armrest, dual vanity mirrors and an anti-theft system.
SE models get automatic air conditioning, sport seats with leatherette trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, tire pressure monitoring and sport body add-ons.
XSE trim adds dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, eight-inch infotainment display, power-adjustable front passenger seat, seven-inch multi-information display, ambient lighting, front and rear LED reading lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and braking, clearance sonar, all-speed radar cruise control, panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels and premium LED headlights.
XLE marks the top of the four-cylinder model lineup, and gets 18-inch wheels, but otherwise comes equipped similarly to the XSE, minus that more performance-oriented model's sport seats and body add-ons, and it's likewise for the XSE V6 and XLE V6.
Fuel consumption estimates vary trim to trim, but a couple of representative figures are 8.4/6.0 L/100 km (city/highway) for the popular LE trim, and 10.7/7.4 L/100 km in XSE V6 trim.