What Did We Buy?
"Didn't we just have a Camry in the fleet?"
This seemed a reasonable question after hearing that we'd added a 2018 Toyota Camry to our long-term stable. It wasn't that long ago that we'd driven a black SE trim for a year, but it turns out it wasn't quite as recent as it seemed. That particular test wrapped up, and the car sold, almost five years ago.
Time flies; you just don't expect it to fly by on the wings of a Camry, a car so ubiquitous on America's roads that it's always just there. It seems all of that capable anonymity has caught up with the country's best-selling car, however. Six years later, the new Camry rolls out with a bold new look, revamped four- and six-cylinder engines under the hood, and a chassis that promises both improved interior room and a more engaged driving feel.
Such comprehensive changes made it hard to ignore the new Camry, so we decided to buy one for our long-term fleet. Now we have a year and 20,000 miles to see if the redesign really does push this family sedan forward in a meaningful way.
What Options Does It Have?
The Camry comes in five familiar trim levels: L, LE, XLE, SE and XSE. The differences largely come down to features, although the SE and XSE include sportier suspension calibration. All trims comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (203 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque), while a 3.5-liter V6 (301 hp, 267 lb-ft) is optional on XLE and XSE models. (XSE trims with the four-cylinder get a slight power boost to 206 hp, 186 lb-ft.)
Like our last long-term Camry, we opted for the SE trim. With sport suspension tuning, an eight-speed transmission with shift paddles, and 18-inch wheels, the SE should give us a good feel for the new Camry's potential. The revamped four-cylinder engine is also rated to deliver up to 34 mpg combined.
We also opted for features including the Convenience package ($625), which bundles a Smart Key (allows drivers to unlock doors by touching the handles) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a sunroof ($900), and carpeted floor and trunk mats ($224).
Other options include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert ($600) to complement the Safety Sense P suite, which comes standard on every Camry. The suite of features includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control and auto-dimming LED headlights.
Our priciest option ($1,255) was the Audio Plus package, which includes navigation via smartphone app, wireless smartphone charging, an 8-inch touchscreen, and the Entune 3.0 infotainment system with in-car Wi-Fi. Oddly, this package also includes dual-zone automatic climate control and vents for rear passengers, but we'll take them.
Our total MSRP was $29,699. After some negotiation with Carson Toyota in nearby Carson, California, we were able to get that price down to $26,968.
Why We Bought It
Although SUVs and crossovers are dominating the sales charts, there's still plenty of interest in midsize sedans. And there's a good reason for that. They're fuel-efficient, easy to maneuver, and have more than enough room for an average-size family. Cars such as the Camry are also more affordable on a feature-by-feature basis, so anyone on a tight budget would be unwise to overlook today's modern sedans.
This time around, Toyota has also given the Camry a design that makes a statement instead of simply blending in. It's a big step out of Toyota's comfort zone, so we're interested to see how the styling grows on us over the next year. There's plenty to talk about under the skin as well, and after rolling up 20,000 miles in the next 12 months, we'll have great insights on how it rides, drives and feels when you're behind the wheel.
Follow our long-term road test updates for our latest thoughts and impressions of our 2018 Toyota Camry SE.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.