2018 Camry XSE Spices up the Sedan Market
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Published on Mon, Nov 13, 2017
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Drop into the Camry and the first thing you’ll notice is that you really did drop – you are in fact sitting lower than ever which may make some traditional Camry buyers uncomfortable. For others, the drop and accompanying lower center of gravity telegraph the Camry’s sporting aspirations.
Bolstered seats and large gauges rimmed in red further set the tone that this isn’t the grocery-getter Camry you’re used to piloting. Besides feeling sporty, the interior is logical which in and of itself is an accomplishment with all the various entertainment and driver assist functions OEMs are forced to offer consumers nowadays. Buttons and controls are where you would expect them to be. Ample use of soft-touch materials, contrast stitching, and metallic-colored accents impart a modern upscale feel.
JBL's sound engineers had early access to the Camry to truly optimize their system (including utilizing the air in the door cavities, for example) for maximum listening pleasure. The JBL premium audio system sounded fantastic, and one stand-out feature was its Clari-Fi technology which makes streaming audio (e.g. Pandora) sound almost as rich as a CD would.
The new Camry is loaded with active and passive measures to keep you alive while you’re singing along to old Bon Jovi songs full blast (what can I say, I’m a child of the 80s.) The XSE came equipped with the higher-end Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) – P safety suite which includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and a host of other features. With all this advanced tech, I’m pretty sure we’re not too far off from the days where I’ll be able to say “make it so number one” to my sentient Camry, and of course it will make it so. If there’s any constructive criticism I’d share on the interior it’s that an 8” screen seems a bit small (or maybe the interior is that big) and as many others have pointed out, it would be nice if Toyota and Apple could play nice and get Apple CarPlay incorporated sometime in the near future. PERFORMANCE We’ve established the latest Camry is a head-turner, especially in red. The makeover is complete in terms of not only outward appearances, but also the cockpit. What about performance? Does the eighth generation Camry have the goods to back up its looks? From a handling perspective, the TNGA architecture’s longer wheelbase and lower center of gravity give the Camry some serious handling skills not present in my either of mom’s Champagne Mica Camry’s. I can’t believe I’m typing this — but I actually looked forward to curves in my time with the Camry XSE. Power was also more than sufficient thanks to the 4-cylinder’s D-4S with Dual VVT-i 206-hp powerplant. 186 lb.-ft. of torque was also good enough for freeway on-ramps. Despite offering a Sport mode, the Camry’s transmission just wasn’t up to the task of providing a truly thrilling driving experience. The Camry’s 8-speed direct-shift transmission is smooth, maybe too smooth. I am old-school and prefer to feel when upshifts and downshifts occur, even in an automatic transmission. For daily driving smoothness is great. But when you’re sitting in the sporty XSE trim and you dial in Sport mode, you want something spicy enough to register in the yellow range of the Scoville scale. Instead you get a little paprika firmly in the green range. While that is easily remedied by switching into sequential shifting mode, I think some calibration is called for. I suspect within a year or two the engineers will program the transmissions in the XSE trims to hold the gears longer and rev higher and to downshift when you stab the gas. With those relatively easy changes I believe the new Camry will be as sporty as even the most aggressive Camry buyer will want on a daily basis. Those hot shoes looking for more they need only to walk over to the Lexus side of the lot and plop down $10k more for a IS. *puns totally intended SUMMING IT UP It’s a great time to be a car buyer. Never before has a dollar gone so far. Of course, that’s what the highly competitive mid-size sedan space is all about: providing the most bang for your buck. The new Camry provides plenty of bang — arresting looks, upscale interior, fleet of foot handling. We haven’t had the chance to get behind the wheel of the much-vaunted new Honda Accord yet, but even so we can say based on our time at the wheel of the Camry that the best-selling car of the last two decades is not going to give up its title without a serious fight. For more information about Toyota's products visit Toyota.com 2018 Camry XSE (4-cylinder) Price: Base $29,000; As tested $34,247 Options Include: Driver’s Assist Package ($1,675) Special Color ($395) Audio Package: Entune 3.0 Audio Plus with JBL with Clari-Fi ($1,800) Door Sill Enhancements ($199) Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder DOHC 16V D-4S Dual Injection with Dual VVT-i Horsepower 206 hp @ 6600 rpm Torque: 186 lb.-ft @ 5000 rpm Performance: 0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds Drive configuration: Front Wheel Drive Transmission type: Direct Shift 8-Speed Automatic with Sequential Shift Mode. Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar Double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bar Sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs, and front strut tower bracing Wheels and tires: 19″ Black Machined-Finish alloy wheels P235/40R19 tires Brakes: Power-assisted ventilated 12-in. front disc brakes Solid 11.06-in. rear disc brakes with hydraulic brake booster Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) system and Star Safety System™ Overall length/wheelbase: 192.7 inches/111.2 inches Overall width: 72.4 inches Overall height: 56.9 inches Weight: 3395 pounds Mileage estimates (mpg city/highway/combined) 28/39/32 EPA Size Classification: Midsize Warranty: Basic Coverage - 36 months/36,000 miles Powertrain Coverage - 60 months/60,000 miles * Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.