The Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling car, a reliable favorite of driver for nearly 20 years. Yet Toyota is changing the beloved sedan for 2018. With a fresh design and sporty feel, the 2018 Camry is the best yet. Here’s why:

Performance Specs

Toyota has clearly been hard at work under the hood of the 2018 Toyota Camry, as all three engine options are either new or substantially reworked to deliver sportier performance. The base engine is a stout 2.5-liter inline-four, which features combined direct and port-injection as well as a longer strike and higher compression ratio than the previous year. All these changes add up to a boost in power, as the new engine generates 203 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Those figures bump up to 206 and 186 for the XSE, which sports a quad exhaust. Hybrid models pair the same base engine – tuned down to 176 horsepower – with an electric motor for a combined 208 horses and 163 lb.-ft. of torque.

Though many of its competitors have dropped their V-6 engine options, the Camry retains its 3.5-liter V-6 for the 2018 model year. Thanks to extensive reworking, however, the V-6 now outputs a beefy 301 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet in 2017. Both gasoline engines are mated to a slick new eight-speed automatic, while the hybrid retains a simulated six-speed sequential shift automatic. A new four-point mounting system also helps to reduce engine vibration across all trim levels.

Fuel Efficiency

While the boost in power is a welcome addition, it’s made even more impressive by the fact that it doesn’t come at a cost to fuel economy. In fact, each model is more efficient than its previous-year counterpart. The base model clocks in at 29 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined, while the inline-four LE and SE trim levels dip slightly to 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 32 combined. The V-6 manages a respectable 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 combined. The biggest story, however, is the hybrid. The hybrid XLE and SE trims check in with very impressive figures of 44 city, 47 mpg highway and 46 combined, while the LE boasts a tremendous 51 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 52 combined.

Safety and Entertainment Features

With a Top Safety Pick+ rating from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to its name, there’s little doubting the 2018 Toyota Camry’s safety bona fides. The Camry claims high marks across a variety of crash tests, and a redesigned front crash prevention system is now standard. In fact, the Camry’s standard safety features are about as good as it gets in this segment. Even the base trim now includes a rearview camera, along with the Toyota Safety Sense-P feature suite, which bundles adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, auto-dimming headlights and more.

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If there’s a glaring flaw in the otherwise excellent 2018 Camry, however, it’s the infotainment system. A standard app-based navigation system is a decent inclusion that attempts to compensate for the lack of built-in navigation, but Toyota’s Entune 3.0 simply can’t measure up to many of its competitors. It remains limited in its capabilities and unnecessarily awkward to use, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both inexplicably still absent on all trim levels. However, smartphone compatibility issues aside, the audio system is otherwise quite good.

How It Stacks up against the Competition

The Toyota Camry may have a long history of dominating the mid-size sedan market, but that doesn’t mean there’s no competition. Even as car buyers increasingly flock toward more versatile SUVs and crossovers, the mid-size segment remains very competitive. The Camry faces tough challenges from a number of rivals, many of whom have recently undergone major remodels of their own. If you’re in the market for a sedan, you’ll find no shortage of excellent options. Here are a couple of the top contenders and how they stack up with the new-look Camry.

2018 Honda Accord

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have always been bitter rivals, and with the Accord also coming into 2018 with a fresh redesign of its own, the battle remains alive and well. If the Camry’s sporty new aesthetics don’t work for you, the Accord offers a look that you may find more refined and sophisticated – or more boring, depending on your taste. The Accord also wins on account of its better smartphone integration and better overall infotainment features. On the other hand, while the Accord has traditionally provided a better driving experience, the Camry’s recent upgrades have closed the gap and perhaps even pushed it ahead of its longtime competitor.

2018 Hyundai Sonata

Another sedan that’s undergone substantial changes for the 2018 model year, the Hyundai Sonata gets a little style injection of its own. The Sonata is among the largest mid-size sedans available, with a roomy, practical interior, and more trunk space than the more low-slung Camry. Ride quality is excellent, and the cabin is as quiet and refined as you’ll find in its class. As with the Accord, the Sonata also offers a better and more capable infotainment system than the Camry’s Entune system. However, the Sonata’s refinement and comfort aren’t paired with much in the way of performance, as the Hyundai sedan isn’t particularly dynamic on the road.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Toyota Camry marks a clear departure from previous model years, but it’s still an excellent choice with a strong stable of engine options, a sportier driver experience and an impressive blend of economy and safety. You’ll find no shortage of great options in the mid-size market, but if you’re eyeing the new Camry, here’s the bottom line.

Pros

  • A selection of quality powertrains
  • More dynamic styling that challenges the Camry’s boring reputation
  • More efficient, safe and reliable than ever before

Cons

  • A subpar infotainment system with poor smartphone integration
  • Not everyone will love the more aggressive aesthetic
  • A little more cramped for rear passengers