America’s best-selling car enters its eighth generation in the 2018-MY, and the all-new Toyota Camry might surprise you: The exterior and interior styling marks a dramatic departure from the outgoing model, and the factory added 33 horsies to its optional V-6 engine at a time when most competitors, including the new-for-2018 Honda Accord, have committed to turbocharged inline fours.
The radical redesign is said to have been executed at the behest of Akio Toyoda himself. The CEO can’t be blamed for wishing to add some shock value to the Camry, particularly as SUVs and CUVs continue to gain ground among former sedan buyers, fleet managers included.
The new car is the first Camry built upon Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform. It is slightly longer, lower, and wider, with two inches added to the wheelbase and a lower hood and shoulderline. The grille and sheet metal are angry and aggressively posed. Sporty SE and XSE trims get additional styling cues and an optional black roof.
All that style is backed by an optional V-6 that now delivers 301 horsepower (hp) and 267 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque — a rare display of power in the midsize segment. The base engine is a new, 2.5-liter inline four good for 203 hp and 184 lb.-ft.
The same engine is paired with twin electric motors in the Camry Hybrid, which is rated at 176 hp and 163 lb.-ft., an appreciable improvement from the outgoing gas/electric edition. Hybrid editions also gain 2 cubic feet of trunk space — thanks to the elimination of rear struts and the relocation of the battery pack to a space beneath the rear seat.
Gasoline-powered Camrys are available in L, LE, XLE, XLE V6, and SE (also equipped with a V-6) trims; Camry Hybrids are LE, SE, or XLE. The entire lineup is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes such features as forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and full emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure alerts and mitigation. A legal dispute inspired Toyota to develop its proprietary Scout GPS app in lieu of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The 2018 Toyota Camry is in showrooms now. The rental-ready base L starts at $23,495 and the XLE V6 tops the list with a starting MSRP of $34,400. Fleet buyers can spend less for a tricked-out Camry Hybrid, for which the XLE trim starts at $32,250.