Thursday, July 13, 2017


With the upcoming 2018 Camry, Toyota takes a big step up in giving a little pizzaz to what is a seriously high-quality sedan that more often than not leads its segment in sales but nevertheless is often derided as, well, boring. 

Somebody obviously was paying attention when Toyota president Akio Toyoda’s issued a companywide edict that “no more boring cars” should roll off his factories’ assembly lines.

Gone is the middle-of-the-road styling that offended no one but left you wondering, “Does this come in beige?”

The new, completely redesigned Camry has a more aggressive exterior with a front fascia that has an angry look about it and a cockpit that oozes the ambiance of its luxury Lexus cousins. Different models get different grille and wheel designs, and the sportier SE and XSE trims get standard a standard rear spoiler. XSE models get dual exhaust with quad-chrome tips.

It comes with either a 203-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (32 miles-per-gallon combined) or a 301-hp 3.5-liter V6 (26 mpg combined) mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Is there a hybrid version? Of course. This is Toyota.

And all of the features of Toyota’s Safety Sense P (TSS-P) technology are standard on all models, not just the high-end Camry. That system includes Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams.

Yet what really caught my attention, and those of several of my automotive journalistic colleagues who were given a preview of the new Camry this week courtesy of Southeast Toyota Distributors, was the sound from the Entune 3.0 suite that included JBL Premium Audio with Clari-Fi.

I remember the first time I ever heard stereo sound in a car. It was a long time ago when I was in a cab in Honolulu, and it overwhelmed me. Through the years, though, I have gotten rather used to the systems of today, even the premium setups offered in high-end luxury cars.

The JBL system, however, brought me back to those early days.

When Pete Wendy, Senior Manager, Sales Toyota/Lexus, turned up the volume, it was like sitting in the front row of a concert. You could even discern the crowd noise and applause.

The V6 XLE and XSE models get the JBL upgrade as standard, and it’s available in option packages in the 4-cylinder XLE and XSEs as well as the hybrid.

Get it. You’ll thank me later.

The new Camry will be arriving in showrooms next week.

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