New Car Previews

Preview: 2018 Toyota Camry

An all-new eighth-generation 2018 Toyota Camry will arrive in Canada this fall with a striking new design and emotion-heavy features, such as a red leather interior and panoramic sunroof, that Toyota hopes will enhance its market-leading mid-size sedan’s reputation as a perfectly reliable and comfortable transport with a little extra sizzle to excite buyers and not just satisfy them.

A little extra sizzle to excite buyers and not just satisfy them.

Though the current Camry was lauded when launched for more visual expression than before, other mid-size sedans have been sharply honed for visual drama, especially the Ford Fusion and Korean corporate cousins Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The Camry's new look is lower and wider, and the company brought out their NASCAR race car and a couple drivers onstage to highlight their 10 years in top-level stock car racing in the US.

So does it actually look much different?

It actually does. There’s more aggressiveness there than ever before, especially on top models. Toyota calls its meaner shape a “Keen Look” design philosophy, and the company has provided more distinction between Sport models, the higher SE and XSE trims, and the more conservative L, LE and XLE trims.

The SE trims offer a bolder Toyota badge combined with a Catamaran-inspired face that harkens to its advanced Mirai fuel cell, as well as to Lexus’ most recent bolder grill designs, with aggressive 19-inch wheels, spoiler, contrasting silver lower grille reminiscent of Audi’s RS models, and yes, even an integrated lower diffuser on the rear of top XSE models.

Yes, a rear lower diffuser. On a Camry.

Arriving in the third quarter, the all-new 2018 Camry will continue to offer three powertrains – the volume four-cylinder, the super efficient gas-electric hybrid, and a V6 model – the last of which is perhaps most surprising, as many cars in this market are foregoing six-cylinder power for more fuel efficient turbocharged fours.

How is a car interior “emotional”?

The new Camry’s interior offers contrasting colours to avoid the rental-car wall of grey that often accompanies mass-market vehicles built to a price point. A sweeping character line from the instrument panel down helps artfully bisect the instrument panel from the transmission tunnel, allowing more space for the driver as well as a more open feel to the cockpit.

There’s also a fair amount of technology and wow factor available in this new Camry, including a large 10-inch head-up display that projects information onto the windshield, as well as a large eight-inch centre screen that still offers user-friendly knobs as well as larger digital soft keys to help customize your preferred navigation, entertainment and phone options.

There’s more interior room courtesy a two-inch-longer wheelbase, and a more expansive view courtesy of a lower windshield line. A one-inch-lower roof and a 1.5-inch-lower hood line contributes to a better centre of gravity and therefore improved dynamics, at a potential cost to ease of entry for older or less-mobile passengers or drivers.

So does all the latest safety gear come mostly on top trims?

There are some safety options, namely blind-spot monitor (BSM) with rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA) and Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) with rear cross-traffic braking (RCTB) that can automatically brake while backing up if it senses an impending collision. But there’s also a ton of advanced safety gear standard, which all comes under the Toyota’s Safety Sense-P system. This includes a pre-collision system with a new Pedestrian Detection function, a highway-speed-to-a-stop Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), a lane-departure assist that gently tries to nudge you back into your lane, and handy automatic high beams that can be left on all the time to light up your way whenever possible, as they quickly revert to low beams when it senses oncoming drivers.