by Brent Romans, Senior Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
The new year started off uneventfully for our 2018 Toyota Camry SE. Most of our staff used it for local driving and commuting to the Edmunds offices. I was able to evaluate it over a long-distance drive, though, from Los Angeles to Fresno, about 250 miles away.
We ended up with a mix of logbook comments for the month. Oddly, many of them are slightly negative. Is this latest Camry redesign not holding up to scrutiny?
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
In January, we averaged 31.1 mpg over about 2,000 miles of driving. That’s pretty close to what the EPA says to expect for combined city/highway driving. It wasn’t that long ago that the Camry was achieving an mpg in the low 30s in highway driving. I looked it up: A 2008 Camry with the four-cylinder engine had a 31 mpg highway rating. Now you can just drive a 2018 Camry just about anywhere and get that kind of fuel economy. I dig that.
Average lifetime mpg: 30.5
EPA mpg rating: 32 combined (28 city/39 highway)
Best fill mpg: 36.2
Best range: 487.7 miles
Current odometer: 7,612 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
“Let’s talk about the Camry’s low-speed throttle calibration. There’s something weird about it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but when I come to a four-way intersection, briefly stop, and then get back on the gas, it’s like the computer imposes a delay before acceleration is provided. I’m waiting an extra beat before the engine kicks in. Never encountered this in a car. Any Camry owners out there know what I’m talking about? Seems like a simple software update would cure it.” — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
“Drove the new 2018 Honda Accord the other day, a Touring model with the 1.5-liter turbo and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Despite Toyota’s claims about the latest Camry’s newfound sportiness, I’d say the Accord is still the clear driver’s choice. The Accord’s turbo engine delivers effortless thrust in situations where the Camry’s non-turbocharged engine would be groaning to keep up, and the Honda gives you a responsive, buttoned-down feel on the road that the Toyota just can’t match. Toyota still hasn’t quite cracked the code that Honda’s had down pat for decades.” — Josh Sadlier
“For years the Camry was known for being a snooze to drive. Well, it seems Toyota is looking to change that with its redesigned 2018 Camry. Our long-term Camry SE is downright agile for a midsize sedan. In our Camry First Drive article, Dan Edmunds noted how Toyota made a concerted effort to improve the car’s handling this time around. The SE version also comes with a sport-tuned suspension, so that is another contributing factor. Throw our Camry into a corner and it arcs around willingly and stays flat and balanced. I’m impressed.” — Brent Romans, senior editor
“The more I accelerate in our long-term Camry, the less affection I feel for its workaday 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. There’s no turbo here, so you have to rev it up to get the most out of it, and it makes unhappy noises when you do so. I’m a die-hard fan of Toyota’s 3.5-liter V6, so presumably I’d like this car a lot better with the optional V6 in place. But I think the standard Camry is overdue for the kind of small-displacement turbocharged engine that many rivals now offer. The deficit in drivability and refinement is too big to ignore.” — Josh Sadlier
“I’ve recently driven our Camry on a couple of four-hour drives. A few observations: I do like the driver’s seat. I found it to be pretty comfortable. Wind noise and road noise are noticeable, though. I would have expected the Camry to be a little quieter. This issue could be exacerbated by what seems to be a slight air leak coming from the driver’s door near the center roof pillar, which is next to the driver’s ear.” — Brent Romans
“I’ll give the Camry credit where credit’s due — its automatic shift lever is a properly short and sporty affair, while the Honda Accord’s is bizarrely tall and ungainly. Score one for Toyota on that front.” — Josh Sadlier
“I like our Camry’s styling. It helps that we have the sportier SE, I suppose. Get a base Camry L in silver, and things aren’t going to be nearly as interesting. But all the same, our test car looks sharp with its 18-inch alloy wheels and Blue Streak Metallic color. The sheet metal’s angles and styling lines make the Camry look purposeful and distinct without being overwrought.” — Brent Romans
“It is well-known around the Edmunds office that I have catlike reflexes, combined with Usain Bolt-like speed. Even still, when I put our Camry in park, shut off the engine, and open the door to exit, it’s impossible for me to exit the Camry before the ding that reminds me the door is open starts doing its thing.
“To be quite honest with you, I hate that ding. When I need to get out of a car, I almost always need to collect some stuff — phone, wallet, maybe a laptop or gym bag — before my time in the vehicle is actually done. And maybe it’s a bad habit, but one of the first things I do once I’ve parked a car is open the door. I don’t know why I do, but I do. Then I collect my stuff. In the 15 seconds or so it takes me to gather my belongings, that ding is just dinging along. Drives me nuts.” — Matt Jones