2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6
The XSE surprised me. Ok, it’s not the most clever rhyme ever, but it does pretty much sum up what my thoughts are on the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE. The Camry, of course, has been a best seller in the U.S. for a long time. To some, it might be seen as a boring, bland, soulless sedan, but reliable and safe nonetheless. Toyota previously hasn’t been known for making drastic changes to vehicles, but the design on the new Camry might change one’s mind on that. The sporty edges, defining lines, and angry looking grill seems like a big step for Toyota. It’s different.
Fist, I want to explain the trim levels because there can be quite a difference between them. The FWD sedan starts at around $23k equipped with a 2.5L 4 cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission in the ‘L’ model. Following that, comes the LE, SE, XLE, XSE, XLE V6, XSE V6. There are also 3 hybrid options available; Hybrid LE, Hybrid SE and Hybrid XLE. What do the letters mean? L is for the entry-level model, LE is the luxury edition, SE is for sport edition and X means executive.
XSE V6 packs a punch
I was anticipating another regular run-of-the-mill sedan when I heard I was getting a Camry to test. What I didn’t realize is that the model is the XSE equipped with the 3.5 L V-6 (the bigger engine option) on the sporty trim. I was instead pleasantly surprised when I entered the ‘on ramp’ approaching 80 mph speed limit on I-25. The 301 hp and 267 lb-ft torque gently pushed my head backward as I reached 80 mph in no time at all. “Huh”, I thought, “this car actually has some pep”. I then shifted my thoughts from ‘”practical family sedan” to “ok, is there a SPORT button, can this car do more!?”
Sport button found, mode activated, “Mwa ha ha ha, ok Camry…let’s see it”, I say.
(Side note: Is it weird that I talk to cars?)
Uh hu, the car can do more. I plant the accelerator, a wee delay followed by an angry purr from the exhaust, good acceleration, and torque steer! Power delivery is smooth and of course, being a naturally aspirated engine, there’s no turbo lag. That’s right ladies and gents, torque steer from a Camry (torque steer is when the car accelerates so hard it can influence the steering). Entering into corners the Camry feels planted and stable thanks to the sport-tuned suspension that comes as standard. Handling is superb. The direct shift 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth once it get’s going. As a bonus, the ergonomic paddle shifter’s behind the steering wheel are fun to engage more with the car.
There are three drive mode options; ECO, NORMAL and SPORT. I’d tell you how ECO did on fuel consumption, but I was just having way too much in SPORT mode. Sorry. I did still average 23 mpg though, so not bad at all. EPA estimates are; 32 mpg on the highway, 22 mpg in the city and 26 mpg combined.
As most all new Toyota’s the sedan comes with the latest safety technology as standard called TSS-P. This includes features such as; Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, Blind Sport Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, ten airbags, and Brake Assist.
For parents of small children that need car seats, the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers) are easy to access and car seats can be clicked in effortlessly. The NHTSA awards the car with a 5-star overall safety rating.
Check out the cool camera. Not just a backup camera, but 360 with a birdseye view. This is how it looks as I was sitting in the car wash. This feature is available in the optional, ‘Driver Assistance’ Package which also includes a head-up display.
The XSE V6 also features a Qi wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones. This is a great feature but my one of the few complaints I have about this car. Because the car handles so good, when cornering your phone can slide off the charging pad. Useful when you’re cruising though. Entune 3.0 allows smart phone connectivity. The 8″ color touchscreen works well and has dynamic navigation along with App Suite. Premium JBL audio has 9 speakers and there are several USB ports. Also available and exclusive to the XSE is a two-tone Midnight Black Metallic roof, Midnight Black Metallic rear spoiler, and exterior mirror housing.
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: