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Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What’s Not to Like?


Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?As a truck guy, I like hauling, towing and sitting up higher with a commanding view of the road in front of me. I also like feeling safer in a larger vehicle. However, I was recently handed the keys to the all new 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid. This made me curious. Could I handle a week of getting down into a sedan, having a less commanding view of the road and no truck bed? Sure… For only a week!

The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling sedan in America for the past 15 years Toyota tells me. They redesigned it and launched this version in the fall of 2018 to much fanfare. Famously, Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda declared, “we are going to reinvigorate the sedan market with our new Camry.”

Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?I’m not sold on that statement, but I am sold on the upper trim XLE. Why? Sedan sales have indeed plummeted over the last few years and it isn’t so much of a problem with the cars as it is the boom in trucks and SUVs. With falling gas prices and luxury features working together to pull buyers from cars to trucks, it is tough for car-focused manufactures to sell volume.

Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?This 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid is a great example of the way the market is going. It is loaded, like Lexus loaded, and has a tremendous amount of fuel economy with an EPA estimated 44/47/46 city/highway/combined fuel economy (I got 40 driving 200 miles at 80+ MPH). Plus, it has Toyota’s legendary reliability and a pretty darn good 2.5L four-cylinder engine mated with a hybrid battery pack producing 208 horsepower. For its size, the Camry can really move and that isn’t putting it in Sport mode. There is an ECO mode as well if you feel like ridiculously good fuel economy.

Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?The car rides well, corners decent and has tons of cargo space and interior room for a family of four. It has a new stylish exterior and good visibility behind the steering wheel (not pickup good, but sedan good). The fact is it is exactly what you, I or anyone should be looking at for a new sedan albeit maybe not at the $37,255 price point for this loaded model.

However, it doesn’t seem like you have to pay sticker. According to my colleague over at the Detroit Free Press, Toyota is putting cash on the hood and discounted leases to move the Camry.  How much cash? In the ballpark of $2,900 in January and February which is a considerable amount for a car with historically a small amount of margin.

Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?

Big fan of this center console layout. Simple design wins.

Consumers should be hopping on that deal especially considering Toyota vehicles historically retain a considerable amount of their resale value. Honestly, if I was in the market for a new car, I’d be all over this Camry. I mean, you are going to give me nearly $3k off a car with plenty of interior space, good reliability and 40+ MPG. I’d be a fool not to buy it.

Truck Guy Review: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid – What's Not to Like?However, like many Americans, I’d be shopping for a truck and that’s too bad. This new Camry is really something and it is not your father’s or the rental companies’ Camry. It is a whole lot more and it doesn’t feel like a boring sedan by any stretch of the imagination.

While my colleagues will likely take me to task for having the absurd thought the Camry is pretty good (see: The 2018 Toyota Camry might be proof most people don’t care about cars), I guess I’m different than other journalists. I like practical vehicles which meet the needs of consumers. The 2018 Toyota Camry isn’t flashy, but is reliable, roomy and pretty powerful with the hybrid powertrain. That’s good enough for me in this class of car and I’m assuming it will be good enough for consumers meaning the 2018 Toyota Camry should keep its title as the best-selling sedan in America.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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