Some cars stir the soul. They grab your unsuspecting attention one day simply by mere chance and dumb luck, and suddenly hook you into a life-long love affair. Whether your taste is Italian tempests or maybe the German gestalt, or good old fashioned American Muscle, every true auto enthusiast has had that one car that started it all for them. They are like some ravishing adulteress that forces you to question your every choice that has lead up to your current automotive partner. They are the things fantasies are made of and the Autobahn is made for.
Odds are however, that not too many of us have ever lusted after the more mundane, more practical, marriage-type cars that don’t scream for attention or look like the mechanical rolling version of a porn star. No, it’s highly doubtful that anyone has ever given up their kids college fund to buy a Hyundai Sonata, or dropped their life savings on Chevy Malibu. But, new for 2018, Toyota, yes that Toyota, has come out with a new Camry, yes, a new Camry, that may just evoke a feeling or two that have long been reserved for cars that occupy much more rarified air than a car that has been seen, literally, ten million times over the course of its history.
The 2018 Camry comes to us with a much more visually striking redesign than we’ve ever seen before. It appears as if it has some new Maxima or maybe even some vestigial Tesla DNA sprinkled into it. This Camry is easily the sportiest version in its history. It feels as if the designers put more thought into creating this car both inside and out than just “how vanilla can we make this car so it doesn’t offend or come off as polarizing to anyone”. This Camry comes with a lip spoiler, a glass panoramic roof, and sits an inch lower than the outgoing model. Is that a little tingle we feel racing over our skin?
Three engine choices are available for the new Camry: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 203-206 horsepower, another 2.5-liter four-cylinder electric hybrid that puts out a total of 208 horsepower, or finally, a 3.5-liter V6 that puts down a serious 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. All three engine choices come with your choice of transmission, so long as that 8-speed automatic. That last engine choice shows off yet another little twist Toyota has chosen to give to its venerable sales champion. A naturally-aspirated torquey V6 is something of an oddity these days, when even manufacturers like BMW are resorting to turbo-fours. Zig when everyone zags? Not exactly the Camry mantra of old … we dig it.
Inside the interior of the Camry looks and feels like a bonafide cockpit, albeit a cockpit that may be flying out of Las Vegas, thanks to its optional bright, and we mean bright, red interior. Another bold choice, well done Toyota. The dashboard is simple enough, and the stereo and HVAC controls are all intuitively placed thankfully. Speaking of stereos, there is a JBL system that sports 800-watts and nine-speakers. The infotainment system is good enough to be sophisticated but not so layered with screen after screen of navigation hell to be pretentious.
The new Camry’s suspension and stiffened to the tune of an additional 30 percent. A double-wishbone setup replaces the old structs out back, which helps the relatively lean 3,600 pound Camry scamper from 0-60 mph in only 5.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 130 mph. Not bad for a car that has a base price of $24,380. Of course, topped out, this new sex symbol comes in at a little over 35k, which is a bit lofty for what it’s been in the past, but with this new look, new charm, and new attention-grabbing appeal, maybe more people will be moved take a little cash out of junior’s college fund after all …