Saturday Special – 2018 Toyota Camry – Just in time?

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2018 Toyota Camry – First Look

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Toyota took a bold step when it displayed a radical redesign of what had been the nation’s   best-selling car. Perhaps it was just in time.

 As consumers take home more SUV’s, crossovers and trucks, the Camry slipped from third to tenth on the best seller list of all vehicles in January. It fell behind the Honda Civic and its stablemate, the Corolla/Im, to become the third most popular car.

 So perhaps Toyota’s change from decaf to vibrate the cup super-strong espresso came at a most opportune moment.

 The eighth generation Camry is “about to ruffle some feathers” its maker claims with its sculptured look front to back. So let’s take a look.

 Exterior:

 Toyota said there were three primary design goals: A distinctive, low center of gravity that results in a firm wide stance; a practical-yet-emotionally styled cabin profile, and a sporty and upscale image both inside and out.

 Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out the accompanying photos. 

Camry will again be available in four grades: LE, XLE, SE and XSE.

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Inside:

 Like the exterior, a complete redesign with a higher grade of soft touch and premium materials, with a “next generation” display technology – a 10 inch color head up display, a seven inch multi information display within the instrument panel, and an eight inch audio/navigation display including HAVC. How things have changed. My old Beetle just had a speedometer.

 Stuff you may not notice:

  By extending the wheelbase by two inches, as well as bringing down the roof and hood height (by approximately 1.0 and 1.6-inches, respectively), the development team lowered the center of gravity and created a wider and more composed vehicle. The range of steering column adjustment has been increased from the current vehicle, while the hood, cowl, and dashboard height have all been lowered for enhanced outward visibility.

Under the hood:

 A 3.5-liter V6 that will also find its way under the Highlander hood. No power stats yet, but it should bang out at least 280 horsepower.   

 A 2.5-liter inline four that Toyota claims is more powerful and efficient. Look for at least 178 ponies.  

Both are paired to an 8 speed automatic

 There is also a new hybrid system with the 2.5-liter tied to a CVT with a new Sport Mode setting with the SE model adding paddle shifts. The hybrid system’s battery pack has been moved from the trunk to beneath the rear seat, a move that should increase luggage space. The hybrid should deliver “Prius-like” fuel economy, the company said.

  Safety:

 There are ten air bags and a long list of features including Blind Spot Monitor, Pedestrian Detection and radar cruise control among other items.

 Size: 

The LX/XLE models check in at 192.1 inches long, while the SE/XSE are six-tenths of an inch longer. All ride on a 111.2 inch wheelbase, are 56.9 inches tall and 72.4 inches wide. That amounts to 3.1 inches longer at a minimum for 2018, with a two inch longer wheelbase. Camry is now 1.1 inches lower and not quite a half inch wider from 2016.

 Look for the new model to arrive in showrooms in late summer.

 Future:

 For now we can’t really say how the new version performs. But I can say that by any standard, the exterior and interior design are more eye catching than any Camry – ever.

 As Toyota releases specs closer to the introduction date, please check out my weekday Auto News column for more on this leap into the future.    

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