The change didn’t begin in 2018
As I mentioned in my first ever blog post that mom was looking to replace her ’05 Camry. She wasn’t a fan of the 2018 model, so I told her I’d bring a ’17 model later for her to check out.
She immediately noted how much she liked the color and the wheels (no matter how ratchet of a car, I always make note of if the wheels are nice or not. I’ve definitely rubbed off on her!) After spending a noticeable amount of time with both a 2018 Camry and now a similarly equipped one that’s a year older, I don’t think there’s as many differences as previously thought. The exterior has obviously gotten more sporty for 2018, but the standard interior has changed very little except for the center stack.
Needless to say, this is the last year we’ll ever see a factory installed CD player in a Camry. Unfortunately, I left all my CD’s at home so I was constantly hitting ‘scan’ on the radio on the drive to and from mom’s house. I know it’s irrelevant to most people, but unless you’re within about 60 miles of a big city radio tower, the radio reception is not very good. The big buttons on center stack were super easy to learn and become accustomed. I think it’s a little odd that automatic climate control isn’t standard on all trims.
The 17″ five-triple spoke wheels are well done without offending the most conservative of customers, but definitely sportier than the more common hubcapped version that most Camry buyers are familiar with. No, I didn’t go muddin’ in the car. The wheels wells on a dozen+ vehicles in our fleet were caked with mud from a field event that will require more than a drive through car wash. It didn’t affect drivability, so I just let it go when I picked the car up.
The 60/40 split rear seats were a surprise. Mom noticed that immediately when I popped the trunk to show how spacious it was compared to her current ’05 model. The released levers on the top seemed to be a design afterthought, but they were functional as intended.
The seats and the dash featured a contrasting red stitching which I really liked. It was an easy way for Toyota to add “sport” to an otherwise rather bland interior. The side bolsters were leather which also added a nice contrast, but I’m curious how that will wear long-term vs. a typical all cloth seat. The seat comfort in my 680-mile jaunt was only average. Thankfully, with the power lumbar support, fatigue was only minor and temporary.
The dashboard was very well laid out in typical Toyota fashion, but the focus of this picture was the steering wheel mounted sport shifters. The first vehicle I can remember that had these was a late 90’s Ferrari, but it was the only way to shift gears. It seems gimmicky on a car that already has a 6-speed automatic. I think adding an “L” and “2” to the gear shifter would cut down on steering wheel clutter. Toyota has very few vehicles in the fleet where this is even warranted. The FR-S? Maybe. The new Supra? Sure.
The new 2018 grille (R) wasn’t a huge departure from the 2017 (L). The Lexus waterfall grille is more pronounced in the ’17, but Toyota ditched the chrome strip and opted for a body colored around the emblem instead. Good call.
Things of note:
It’s not very exciting, but doesn’t really need to be.
the extra 2 gears are very welcomed in the ’18 model.
a disappointing 33.5 mpg highway – inline with the EPA stated 33mpg.
very easy to use and learn controls – even the steering wheel buttons.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
It’s not my cup of tea, but count on well-maintained vehicles to easily go 200K miles. If you need to cart around 3 or 4 passengers around town or on a 400+ mile highway trek, this would be a good choice. But if you are looking for an invigorating driving experience, this definitely isn’t for you. Mom has decided to keep shopping in hopes she can still find a new (not likely) or nearly new ’17 with the LE trim. She likes the ’17 models infinitely more than the 2018 model I took to her, but she’s in no rush to replace her fully functional 2005.
Toyota if you’re listening . . .
To keep from shunning the little old ladies from Pasadena, bring back the CE trim Camry. Scrap the sport shifter steering wheel, give it a subdued monotone interior, and 16″ wheels. Shave $500 off and have it start at $22,995.
On a scale from 1-100: (1-rather walk in a blizzard, 100-I’ll sell a kidney)
Buy it new – 45
Buy it later at half the sticker price – 65
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 30
Oooh and ahhh factor – 15
Recommended – (80 to buy / 50 to rent)