2018 Toyota Camry XSE: a professional driver’s view

2018 Toyota Camry XSE:
2018 Toyota Camry XSE: a professional driver’s view
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About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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The Toyota Camry has been one of the most popular (best selling) cars for many years since its initial introduction back in 1982. Now in its 8th generation, the Camry has undergone a wholesale redesign using Toyota’s “New Global Architecture” (TNGA).

2018 Toyota Camry XSE:

2018 Toyota Camry XSE

Basically, this means that Toyota is focused on building its current and future vehicles on common platforms with common parts and allowing manufacturing plants to be more flexible to accommodate future changes to buyer preferences. The current generation of the Camry is available in three model lines for a total of ten different models. In addition to the overall sleeker and sportier look of all of the Camry models, the “S” lineup (SE, SXE and SXE V6) will appeal to the buyer that is attracted to paddle shifters, sport seats, sport body trim and sport tuned suspension. The “L” models (L, LE, XLE and XLE V6) offer a more traditional (less sporty) finish. Finally, there are three hybrid offerings (LE, SE and XLE).

Technical details
The Camry XSE comes with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine generating 206 hp. A V6 version is available (the XSE V6) that creates 301hp. The XSE front sport tuned suspension includes Macpherson gas struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar. The rear sport tuned suspension consists of a double wishbone design with coil springs and stabilizer bar. The XSE comes mounted on 19”aluminum alloy wheels matched with all season P235/40R19 tires, front ventilated disc and rear disc brakes, electric power steering and an electric parking brake. The V6 version of the XSE has the identical suspension, wheels and brakes.

Front wheel drive is the only choice in the Camry line up. Both the 4-cylinder as well as the V6 come with an 8-speed “automatic” and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Driving and handling characteristics
The Camry XSE comes with three driver selectable drive modes – Sport, Eco and Normal. As one can expect, the Eco mode is the least responsive – to improve fuel economy. The majority of driving is best done using the Normal mode unless you want to have a sporty throttle response and longer gear changes, in which case opt for the Sport mode. The paddle shifters on the XSE are a nice addition and comfortable to use. Overall ride quality is very good as a result of the new and stiffer chassis, rear suspension and lower center of gravity. The Sport mode adds even more stiffness and steering responsiveness to driver input, all without giving up anything significant in ride comfort. The 4-cylinder XSE provides more than sufficient power for everyday driving needs. The additional 95hp with the V6 version would be my choice for a more spirited ride.

Comfort and styling
2018 Toyota Camry XSE:In addition to the revamped exterior, the interior of the new Camry bears no resemblance to the Camry of old – and the changes are positive! The XSE comes with front sport seats (red leather), heated of course. The driver’s seat has 8-way power adjustable settings and the front passenger gets 6-way power adjustments. The difference comes from the driver’s power lumbar support. Rear seats are 60/40 fold down with the XSE having a fold down center armrest (with cup holder). For the driver, the 3-spoke steering wheel has tilt and telescopic adjustments; audio, cruise, voice

2018 Toyota Camry XSE:

2018 Toyota Camry XSE; Photo Credit: R.G. Beltzner

recognition and information display controls. The XSE also comes equipped with push button start, wireless charging, smart key system as well as an Entune 3.0 Audio Plus system with 6-speakers, 8-inch touch screen, Bluetooth®, Satellite Radio, and backup camera. Embedded navigation with weather and traffic is only available on the XLE models. The interior of the XSE is nicely finished with many nice lighting touches such as ambient lighting and personal front and rear LED lights. Storage for personal items is more than adequate for both front and rear passengers.

Exterior styling of all “S” models include “sport” rocker panels, grill, side skirts and rear spoiler. Both the XSE and XLE models come with a panoramic glass roof.

Safety features
Toyota has an excellent set of safety systems as standard equipment on all Camry models. These include pre-collision with pedestrian detection; auto high beam; dynamic cruise control; lane departure alert with steering assist; as well as their “Star Safety Systems” that include Smart Stop, Stability Control, ABS, Traction Control, Brake Assist and Brake Force Distribution. The XSE model adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and brake as well as a clearance sonar. Not to be overlooked are the complete range of restraint and airbag systems.

Things to consider
The new Camry is an appealing and well handling vehicle where even the base models are reasonably equipped. With 7 gas and 3 hybrid models to choose from with a price range of $26,390 to $40,690, Toyota is betting that one of them will match your needs. The choice of models combined with an excellent past record for reliability will likely result in another winner for Toyota.

The 2018 Camry XSE base MRSP is $34,890, and $35,685 for the test vehicle. The price does not include taxes, license, registration and applicable fees.

More automotive reviews and insights are available on Oakville News. You can also follow me on Twitter @redy2rol.

*Source: Automotive News Canada, November 2017

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