Family Thrill Ride: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE 301-Horsepower V-6!
The family sedan of yesteryear is long gone. What we thought to be ordinary is no longer ordinary at all. Toyota has had their complacent day in the sunlight upholding the boring lifestyle that we all knew our parents to have, it is time for them to bust through that barrier of basic PTA meetings and enter a realm where having a family is the cool, hip thing to have next to the latest generation iPhone or Amazon Echo.
It is not surprising then, that after a very long wait, the Camry got what was coming to it. Considering it is all new from headlight to taillight, we’re all in for special treat. Riding on a newly engineered chassis, the Camry is, dare we say, a much more solid car than before. With a more rigid structure and new front independent MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bars and a double wishbone multi-link rear suspension, makes this family sedan something we’d want to take out for date night in the mountains than the usual Red Lobster down the street.
Since the Camry is introducing itself to a new territory of exotic driving, why not give it a couple new engines. Toyota maintains three engine choices: four-cylinder, a V-6 and a hybrid system; however, while the hybrid system is carried over from the previous generation, the four-cylinder and V-6 are both new for 2018. Toyota’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder packs well over 200-horsepower and will be available in all trim levels while the new 301-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 will only be available in the XLE and XSE trim levels.
The XSE is the highest offered Camry, topping out at $34,950. And with a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch black wheels and large 10-inch heads-up display, it’s the most luxurious Camry yet. There is something to say about car, that when you find yourself turning around after parking to get one last look before leaving it behind. The Camry’s new design sculpture is all about curves and aggression. It stands out from anything on the market and even in our $395 Ruby Red paint, it sure is an eye catcher. All Camry’s comes standard with LED headlights and daytime running lights; however, our XSE stepped it up with LED everything all around – brake lights, taillights, and even the indicators.
Opting up for the V-6 over the four-cylinder isn’t always about wanting something quick, but having confidence. Sure, the four-cylinder is plenty powerful for everyday life, but jumping into the V-6 is because someone wants more, and that’s exactly what we have here. Racing between the lights because mom needs her caffeine fix has never felt more alive taking 5.5 seconds to 60 mph. Just make sure you’re packing some muscle, the amount of torque steer kept us on our toes at every moment. The 8-speed automatic is starting to find its way into most of Toyota’s lineup and can now be discovered here. Though while the gauges look red and there is a sport mode, the transmission is not as eager to change gear as one would hope for. Using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters expressed a delay long enough to wonder if they were meant for display only and in typical Toyota fashion, popping the gear lever into manual mode starts us off in 4th gear.
While we try to control our eagerness to constantly race and speed pass every slow driver in the right hand lane, under normal mode it seems as if the Camry always has its devlish horns sprouting through the hood making it difficult to be civilized. Now, we here don’t like Eco Mode… mostly it ruins the driving experience and we end up yelling at the car – but here it works really well to keep everything well in control by pulling back on the throttle responsiveness and starting its acceleration in a higher gear. We save on tires and on fuel seeing an average of 24 mpg’s.
With more sound density material, the Camry is one ultra-quiet sedan – which is a shame. While we love not hearing the pesky sounds of kids screaming on the outside, we would have loved to hear the hearty roar of a natural aspirated V-6 opening its vocal chords through the quad-tip exhaust system. Our XSE model upgrades the suspension to include sport shock absorb making it a much sportier influenced ride. The Camry up held its agreement being a comfortable family cruiser but also sported its XSE sporty pedigree with well-balanced control through the corners, limited body roll at hairier cornering conditions.
A new Camry means a new interior, and what a fine what it is at that. This is the most premium a Camry will ever get, except with it possible available red leather interior. Every surface is covered in soft touch materials and feels like a premium product. The large 8-inch touch screen interface incorporates Toyota’s latest Entune software, 3.0 but is still yet compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – a very important feature we wish we saw in this car. Unfortunately for a family sedan, we did notice with an hour behind the wheel fatigue and body soreness in the front seats, the rear seats on the other hand felt more at home and the place to be for long car rides. But it doesn’t stop there; the new available panoramic sunroof creaked like a 50-year old man preparing to sit down at the Sizzler, some of the buttons felt a little off quality and looked too spread out to feel a giant empty space on the dash.
The Camry is now all about technology and that’s what its mostly centered around. It incorporates Toyota’s newest standard TSS (Toyota Safety Sense) which is available as a standard feature on all trim levels. This brings in Adaptive Cruise Control with full start/stop capabilities, Forward Collision Mitigation with Autonomous braking, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Automatic High Beam headlights. Our XSE also came standard with Blind Spot Monitoring with rear-cross traffic and pedestrian detection. Adding the Driver Assistance Package tacked on an extra $1990 but gave us a very impressive, animated Birds Eye view 360-degree camera, an incredible JBL Audio system, and a Dynamic Navigation system.
In this world where a white picket fence was our parents life’s goal to ours with a downtown loft and ordering grocery’s from a website, the Camry is no longer playing nice – its the next generation family thrill ride.
|2018 Toyota Camry XSE:||$34,950|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$38,797|
|3.5-liter V-6 – 301-Horsepower, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±5.5 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 22/33/29 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 24 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±340 Miles|