By Steve & Tamami Laser
We just spent a week with a brilliant newborn who has an incredible zest for life. This eighth-generation Japanese American is a powerful athlete with incredibly good looks, a world-class entertainer, highly skilled in information and technology, and an expert bodyguard. Our multi-faceted friend is the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6.
Toyota has transformed its best-selling sedan into an object of desire. While every model gains completely new styling, the top-line XSE is dressed with a gloss black front grille with sport mesh insert flanked by smoke-tinted LED headlights. It rides on sporty 19-inch black machined-finish alloys wrapped with P235/40R19 tires. It looks like a sports sedan.
The XSE V6 features a standard panoramic glass roof, dual exhaust with quad chrome tips, and LED taillights with smoke tint. Our tester added the optional two-tone paint treatment with Midnight Black Metallic roof, matching rear spoiler, and outside mirror caps.
What’s it like to drive? Join us in this video for test-drive highlights of the new Camry XSE V6. After a week behind the wheel, our editor says, “So how did we like it? We love it! This is by far the best Camry ever.”
The Camry rides on Toyota’s Next Generation Architecture (TNGA) that represents a new strategy in the way the automaker designs, engineers and packages its cars. The rigid body structure, increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel, and a low center of gravity improves driving dynamics. With its sport-tuned suspension, the XSE delivers responsive handling along with Camry’s traditionally smooth and quiet ride.
Under the hood is a new 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine with D-4S direct injection and VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide). It puts out a very satisfying 301 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is teamed with a new Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, plus three separate drive modes for selecting Eco, Normal and Sport.
Our walkaround video takes a closer look at the Camry XSE V6’s exterior, under the hood, inside the trunk, the rear seat, and the driver’s seat. We wrap it up with technology features.
The transformation continues inside the cabin where the Camry receives a totally new look. The luxury treatment, inspired by home furnishings, includes high-grade premium materials, soft touch surfaces and a mix of tones and hues.
Our tester’s interior really stands out with gorgeous and distinctive Cockpit Red leather seating surfaces and matching color trim on the instrument and door panels. The front power, multi-stage heated sport bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive.
The 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrests, center armrest and cupholders, allows long objects to be carried inside the car while still offering room for passengers.
Camry’s spacious trunk has a cargo capacity of 15.1 cubic feet. We made a run to a local membership store and filled up the trunk (room to spare) with a shopping cart full of paper goods and groceries.
The driver is treated to a cockpit-style instrument panel with a sweeping character line that flows from the center of the dash like a waterfall. The leather-trimmed steering wheel offers fingertip control of features including audio, Bluetooth® phone and voice command controls, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
We liked the ability to monitor and customize the operation of features using steering-wheel buttons and the Multi-Information Display between the analog gauges. Our Camry also included a 10-inch color Head-Up Display that projected information onto the windshield for easy viewing.
While a backup monitor is standard, our tester was fitted with the optional Bird’s Eye View. It uses cameras around the car to generate an aerial view on the center display. Our Camry also included Toyota Safety Sense P with Pre-Collision System and Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
The Navigation Package with Entune™ 3.0 Audio features an easy to use 8-inch touchscreen display, JBL® sound with Clari-Fi™ technology, and app suite. The home-screen menu with smartphone-like icons let us quickly select Destination, Audio, Phone, Apps, Info, and Setup.
By pressing the voice command button on the steering wheel, we could search for places like coffee shops. When we made our selection by voice, the navigation system plotted our route and provided turn-by-turn directions.
Of course, there’s more, including Siri® Eyes Free, Google voice controls, HD Radio®, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, and Gracenote® album cover art. We checked our local weather forecast, and also discovered that our car was equipped with Wi-Fi Connect Powered by Verizon, and included a Qi-compatible wireless device charger for smartphones.
Our Camry XSE V6 checked in with a base MSRP of $34,950. Adding a Driver Assist Package with Bird’s Eye View camera and perimeter scan, Navigation Package, two-tone paint, rear bumper appliqué, illuminated door sills and carpeted floor and trunk mats brought the bottom line with destination to $39,322.
Camry offers a wide array of models for 2018. The LE with its new Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine has a base MSRP of $24,000. Camry Hybrid fans can select from three models equipped with a new Toyota Hybrid System (THS II) that’s said to provide spirited performance along with improved fuel economy.
Smooth, sophisticated, powerful and a joy to drive, the 2018 Camry XSE V6 is simply sensational. And if we were in the market for this sporty midsize sedan, we’d equip it just like our test car. It’s the best Camry ever since the nameplate was born 36 years ago.
Camry press fleet vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All product information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice.
Story, photos and videos © 2018 CarNichiWa.com