I will admit that when I heard I’d be driving a Toyota Camry for a week, I didn’t exactly jump for joy. Not that I had anything against the car, but I had preconceptions about the Camry. Visions of beige boxes from the 90’s danced through my head. As did terms like dependable, practical, and reliable. Those are all good things, but exciting and fun? Not really. I was expecting to get plain vanilla ice cream. However, what I got was bananas flambe.
Inside, the fun starts with a heads-up display projects information onto the windshield. It’s a feature that’s totally unnecessary but it’s a small pleasure drivers will look forward each time they hop in. In the center of the asymmetrical dash, there’s an 8″ touch screen to control the 8-speaker JBL stereo/nav system. Below that, there’s a QI wireless charging pad integrated into the console. Just flop your phone down and it charges while you drive. No plugs, no wires or fuss. We are living in the future folks.
This press car was outfitted with the Toyota’s navigation package. It’s a $940 option that gets you Toyota’s Entune 3.0 System powered by Linux. This is significant because it’s an open source operating system that allows any app developer to create applications to work with the infotainment system. This is interesting, but it makes one wonder how popular it will be. Time will tell.
It also featured their driver assist package that offers a bird’s-eye view of the car wen backing up. Even if you opt out of these, the Camry comes standard with a ton of safety features, steering assist, lane departure alert, radar cruise control and automatic braking to name a few.
There’s plenty of legroom up front and room for those with long legs in the rear seats. Carseats should fit with no problem too. The headroom is good too even with the sunroof option. Leather upholstery and dual-zone climate controls keep driver and passengers comfortable.
The car’s grill is vaguely reminiscent of the Lexus spindle shape. It’s got LED headlights tucked in above false intake vents that look like they were inspired by and F-18 fighter jet. The press car wore a two-toned black on blue color-scheme. It’s a $500 option that doesn’t add much to the car in my opinion. But beauty is subjective, at least one person I showed the car to loved it.
I like the hard shoulder-line and the blend of supple and hard edges. It’s a measured, almost safe approach, but the results are easy on the eyes. Out back, the deck lid is rounded out with a subtle spoiler above a tastefully designed rear facia. The split dual exhaust outlets lend a satisfying sense of balance to the back end.
Acceleration is strong thanks to the 301 horsepower 2.5L V6 nestled under the hood. The eight-speed automatic transmission feels smooth and well-sorted. This thing scoots too. All that horsepower translates to a sub-six second 0 – 60 time, which it not bad for a big roomy family sedan. The steering feels direct but not twitchy, and the car, although large, doesn’t feel big and wallowy. Interstate travel is a comfortable reasonably quiet affair. The window sticker says drivers can expect to get 32 mpg on the highway and 22 around town. Granted, these aren’t hybrid numbers, but most hybrids don’t feel this good when you put your right foot down.
It sounds like a marketing cliche, but ’18 Camry is bound to change the way people perceive the car. I did not expect to find the levels of comfort and power I experienced. Heck, I even had fun. This Camry is a pleasant surprise. If you’re in the market for a comfortable, dependable, good-looking family hauler, that happens to be able to roll smoke off the front tires, put a Toyota Camry at the top of your shopping list.