By Asian Journal Auto Editor

2018-Toyota-Camry-HybridHard to believe the new 2018 Toyota Camry is now in its 8th generation, the first coming out over thirty-five years ago! The mid-size Camry has not really had a reputation for being an exciting looking car, nevertheless its core values of comfort, space and reliability have made it one of Toyota’s top-selling sedans. This year’s model takes those core values, but wraps up the Camry in some stylish, sheet metal, a veritable feast of swoops, curves and radical styling to lift it out of the ordinary. Along with the new body is improved power, performance and a more luxurious interior. For Canada, the Camry arrives in a number of models- starting from $26,390 to $40,990. There is the L, LE, XLE and XLE V6 and the sportier “S” series of SE, XSE, and XSE V6 with sports tuned suspension, sports bucket seats, and racy body kits aimed at younger buyers. The New Camry arrives with a base 2.5-litre four engine producing 203 horsepower, while there is also a 3.5L V6 for the XSE that develops 301 hp and 267 lb.-ft. Both engines come teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission. We tested a very sporty looking 2018 Camry Hybrid SE model that looks identical to the non-hybrid car with just a few hybrid badges to signal its green credentials.

The Camry Hybrid is powered by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system: a retuned Atkinson Cycle version of the base 2.5L engine teamed with two motor/generators and an electronically-controlled, continuously variable transmission. You can use the sport mode option for the transmission with six preselected ratios accessed through steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The net system output for the power unit is rated at 208 hp and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. In term of battery power, there is, depending on model either, a high-power lithium-ion battery, or a nickel metal-hydride unit located under the rear split-fold seats.

The 2018 Camry also gets a rework on the inside, with a luxurious, upscale look and a host of new technology, convenience and safety features. There are premium high quality materials, comfortable seats, lots of occupant room front and a polish and panache that were missing in the old Camry. Our mid- range Hybrid SE came with equipment such as: Toyota Safety Sense P, Sport Styling, featuring Sport Front Grille, Rear Spoiler and fascia, 18-inch Aluminium Alloy Wheels, Leatherette-trimmed Heated Front Sport Seats, Entune 3.0 Audio with 6-speakers, 87-inch Display, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and Backup Camera, and Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging. Of note is the Toyota Safety Sense P Suite as standard equipment. It features such technology as radar and camera to provide forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane departure/keep assist, and dynamic cruise control and auto high beams.

On the road the Camry Hybrid exhibits flawless refinement. The transition between gas and hybrid power is seamless. The new Camry is fast with brisk acceleration, however new engineering by Toyota estimates better efficiency and lower energy loss by 20 percent. Selectable driving modes such as Eco, Normal, and Sport offer different shift and throttle parameters depending on driver preference for either performance or economy. The ride and handling in the new Camry is also a revelation. It has a much sportier, firmer sprung, but still comfortable ride. The car feels more responsive than before, thanks to a stiffer chassis, while a lower centre of gravity and the new double wishbone rear suspension setup also weigh in for better cornering. Toyota’s Fuel Efficiency Rating (L/100km) is 5.3/5.0 (City/Hwy) for the Camry which is best in class for this segment. There is not a lot to complain about the new Camry. It looks great and has an interior that’s as good as an entry level Lexus in my opinion. The Camry Hybrid is a very attractive car if you are looking for an eco-friendly – family size -hybrid sedan. Well worth considering. This car just got a whole lot better.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE sedan base priced from $33,990. Total MRSP as tested -$35,832 including freight and PDI.