Toyota has completely redone its best-selling Camry for the 2018 model year. The changes improve drive quality, fuel economy, and overall goodness. What remains is the roominess and expected reliability that the Camry is known for. The new 2018 Camry is family-sized and well worth a look. Assuming you aren’t a big fan of infotainment technology.
The 2018 Toyota Camry comes in any of three powertrains and up to six trim levels. The numbers in the above chart refer to the base model Camry, which has a four-cylinder engine and some impressive standard equipment that includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist. The other models are a V6-powered edition (shown) and a Hybrid option (also driven for this review).
Most of the changes to the new Camry are in its looks, its drive quality, and its fuel efficiency. The new look for the Camry is easy to like with a more aggressive curb presence as its result. Changes to the chassis for the 2018 Camry improve both its drive quality on the road and its maneuverability around town. Fun factor is slightly better with the new sport models as well. Finally, fuel economy is improved with changes to each of the powerplants for the 2018 Camry. Always welcome.
How Useful Is the 2018 Toyota Camry As a Family Hauler?
The 2018 Camry is a pretty good family machine if your family isn’t too large. For mine, with three kids, the back seat got pretty cramped, but for two-kid or one-kid families, the Camry is probably exactly right. It retains the usefulness of a good sedan, with better visibility and maneuverability over most similar-sized crossovers.
The Camry also has a good-sized trunk and a smart driving style about it. This new generation of the car goes a long way towards dumping the “boring is as boring does” that made up the persona of the Camry in years past. It’s more aggressive to look at and far more fun to drive than before. It’s not a sports sedan, by any means, but it’s definitely a more livable everyday driver now that the lackluster performance and feel of the previous generations are gone.
There is a lot to like about the all-new 2018 Camry. There are also things to dislike. The base model and its four-cylinder are not all that exciting. Fuel economy is good, but the V6 and Hybrid are far better options for most buyers, I’d say. The V6 is fun and doesn’t sacrifice much in terms of MPG returns and the Hybrid offers the best of everything in one package.
Also lacking in the Camry are good infotainment options. There’s Entune on the 7-inch screen in most models and the larger 8-inch screen is found in upper-crust models. Neither screen offers much in the way of fast responses or usefulness beyond setting a radio station and making Bluetooth calls. Toyota seems to be adamant about killing off any smartphone integration with their Camry and their proprietary app does its best to make all technology feel like a suckfest. If all that’s needed is Bluetooth and satellite radio, the Camry is great. If more is expected? Sorry.
Expected Reliability/Dependability and Value
The Camry has a long reputation for reliability and usually scores high in the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study. Consumer Reports usually gives the Camry high scores as well. That isn’t changing for 2018, though the new model changes might make that harder to predict. I’d still bet on the 2018 Camry being a top dependability expectation, though.
Which Version of the 2018 Camry Would We Buy?
The 2018 Camry SE V6 or the 2018 Camry Hybrid LE are top choices for families in my estimation. The SE is the sportier option for the Camry and has great inclusions (in terms of amenities) for the dollars spent. Most buyers would need no upgrade to the long list of good stuff included there. The Hybrid model offers peak fuel efficiency and its LE trim keeps the good efficiency and also includes most of the goodies buyers would prefer. Unless leather (instead of faux leather) is a must for you, either of these trims will do well.
Radio Setting and Kid Approvals
The kids weren’t impressed with the Camry, but most of that was due to the cramped quarters at three across in the back seat. They also weren’t big on the radio station that seemed to match the car best, Margaritaville (XM 24), which is mostly Jimmy Buffet and friends crooning away about stuff kids born after 1950 probably don’t understand. I can’t blame them, but it’s nice to sometimes get a feel for old man reminiscences about what used to be considered problems. Like old fairy tales, some of those old songs have some deeply twisted meanings too. Like a whole song about heavy drinking in Key West in order to forget a woman. Sounds legit.
A Note on Our Process: Reviews here are based on Aaron’s reviews found around the Web. The goal here is to forego the usual “horsepower and capability” jargon of most automotive reviews and instead focus on how well the vehicle is as a regular family hauler for a single dad. Links to full, formal reviews are included in this review in order to provide more information should you wish to have it.