My recollection is that when Toyota launched its all-new 2018 Camry, it actually used the word “sexy” to describe the car. I’ve spent the past week driving one of those new Camrys and it’s only sexy if your definition of that term includes practical and roomy, fuel efficient and frustrating.
Yes, the styling is more contemporary, but it is a long way from R- or X-rated. Still much more Mary Ann than Ginger, more Amy than Penny. Your neighbors aren’t going to mistakenly think that’s a Lamborghini or Corvette in your driveway.
The Camry is still the sort of car you can bring home not only to meet your parents but to take them comfortably out to dinner, or even smoothly across the country. In-laws will be impressed that you’re not some hot-rodding, tire-smoking maniac.
While still practical — the Camry has been the best-selling car in the country for the past 15 years — the newest version is pretty luxurious, at least in the XLE trim of the Hybrid I’ve been driving. The leather-trimmed seats have quilted-style cushions, and are heated up front and with power-adjustments. There’s only a little bit of wood-look trim, and it has raised graining you can feel as you run your finger over it.
Most of the dash is given over to a stylish and triangular control panel with a 7-inch display screen and Entune 3.0 audio system.
Which brings me to the frustrating part: There’s a nice and old-fashioned knob for adjusting the audio volume, but not a knob for changing stations, so when I wanted to switch the satellite radio from ESPN to NPR, I first had to figure out how to change not just channel but the category. I tried simply pushing the next button, but once it got to the end of the sports channels, instead of whatever category was next, it took me back to the beginning of sports.
Sorry, that’s way too complicated to have to figure out when you’re driving alone and can’t simply turn such duties over to a passenger to manipulate.
The interior not only is luxurious, but roomy, and for a mid-size car, it’s very fuel-efficient, rated at 46 miles per gallon overall.
Not only is this new Camry built on Toyota’s new global architecture, it comes with a new second-generation hybrid powertrain. That architecture and new powertrain and battery storage system mean the car has much more room in its trunk for your stuff, something not all hybrids can boast.
Hybrid pricing starts at $27,800 for the LE, at $29,500 for the SE and at $32,250 for the XLE. Our test was equipped with the optional Driver Assist Package and bird’s-eye view camera, adaptive headlamps, power moonroof, and upgraded audio package for an as-tested price of $37,255.
2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid
Vehicle type: 5-passenger sedan, front-wheel drive
Base price: $32,250 Price as tested: $37,255
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, 175 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 163 pound-feet of torque @ 3,600 rpm and permanent magnet synchronous motor, 118 hp, 149 pound-feet Transmission: continuously variable
Wheelbase: 111.2 inches Overall length/width: 192.1 inches / 72.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,571 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 44 city / 47 highway / 46 combined
Assembled in: Georgetown, Kentucky