We drove a $39,000 Toyota Camry V6 to see why it’s the best selling car in America — here’s what we found

Our 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 test car.

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Our 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 test car.
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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

  • The Toyota Camry is the best selling car in America. In 2017, Toyota sold more than 387,000 Camrys in the US.
  • The Camry is known for its impeccable build quality and rock-solid reliability. But it’s also known for being a bit dull.
  • The Camry is all-new for 2018 with the debut of its eighth generation.
  • Our Camry XSE V6 is powered by a 301 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. A 203 horsepower four-cylinder and a 176 hp hybrid are also available.
  • We loved the Camry’s beautifully appointed interior, edgy sheet metal, and potent V6.
  • The 2018 Toyota Camry starts at $23,495 while our test car carried an as-test price of $38,730.

The Toyota Camry is the best selling car in America. Only full-size pickups like the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado have been able to consistently beat the Camry in the sales department over the past 30 years. Even with its traditional buyers flocking towards crossover SUVs, the Camry has been holding strong with more than 387,000 sold in the US last year.

Over the years, the Camry has earned a reputation for its inspired engineering, impeccable build quality, and rock-solid reliability. Turn on. Drive. Turn off. Repeat. With some basic maintenance, the Camry will keep going as long as you want to keep it around.

However, it has also earned the somewhat unenviable reputation for being the archetype for unspeakably boring yet unfailingly reliable daily transportation. The Camry comes off as a bit soulless like a kitchen appliance.

Even though Toyota’s worked hard to shake that reputation, it’s one that persists.

For 2018, Toyota introduced its all-new eighth generation Camry with fresh sheet metal, interior, and powertrain.

Recently, the Japanese auto giant dropped off a top-of-the-line 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 sedan for us to check out. The base Camry starts at $23,495 while the XSE V6 opens at $34,950. With options, our Kentucky-built Toyota Camry XSE V6 test car left the showroom at $38,730.

So has the king of boring been reborn with an extra dose of pizazz? Let’s find out.


Over the decades, Toyota’s stalwart sedan has changed with the with times.

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Toyota

Its styling and capabilities represent the pinnacle of steady daily transportation.

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Toyota

However remarkable its quality, engineering, and sales prowess may be…

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Toyota

…The Camry remains a bit boring and innocuous.

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Toyota

Toyota has certainly tried to spice things up with likes of the Camry Coupe and…

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Toyota

…The swoopy Solara convertible.

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Toyota

Nope. Still boring.

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Toyota

The eighth generation Camry is all-new for 2018.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

It comes just in time to go head to head with Honda’s all-new Accord and…

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Honda

…Nissan’s recently unveiled Altima sedans.

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The first thing you notice is the fresh sheet metal. In sport trim, the new Camry looks aggressive. In white and black, our test car looked like a giant Storm Trooper helmet from Star Wars. The angular front grille and chiseled spoilers…

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…Are offset by the sweeping curves and flowing fast back roof line.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The rear end is punctuated by a small decklid spoiler and a diffuser flanked by a quad-tip dual exhaust system.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The new 19-inch alloys look great.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Inside, our tester boasted a stunning blood red leather interior with black and metallic accents.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The red leather proved to be eye-catching, but polarizing. The interior material and build quality are truly Lexus-worthy. The seats proved to be easily adjustable, well-bolstered, and comfortable even on long journeys.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The rear seats boast plenty of room for two adults and one child.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

While a power-operated panoramic roof floods the cabin with sunshine.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Out back, there’s a 15.1 cubic foot trunk.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

In front of the driver is a 7-inch TFT information display flanked by a pair of traditional analog with gauges. There’s also 10-inch color head-up display.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Camry’s stylized waterfall center console is dominated by the climate controls and touchscreen infotainment system.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The 8-inch touchscreen runs the latest version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune has not been one of our favorite systems in the past.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The image quality is subpar while the Bluetooth phone pairing produced poor sound quality. However, its menus are logically placed and it proved to be highly reliable during our week with the Camry.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

However, the Camry’s other tech features did impress. Our top-spec tester came loaded with a pre-collision warning system, pedestrian detection, intelligent radar cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, QI wireless charging, and a JBL sound system.


The Camry’s four-surround-view camera proved to be impressive as well.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

It not only provides an overhead view of the car,…

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

… It also provides a 360-degree panoramic sweep of the car’s surroundings.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

It also provides the driver with a view of what the car looks like from the outside.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Powering our test car is a silky-smooth 301 horsepower, 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V6. It’s one of the last of its kind in the segment with most rivals going to turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Power flows to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Camry can also be had with a 203 horsepower, 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four-cylinder engine and a 176 hp four-cylinder hybrid drive unit.


So, what’s it like the drive?

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The 2018 Toyota Camry V6 is surprisingly gutsy. Dial the car up in sport mode and the Camry will gladly chirp its tires off the line. And it has the grunt to embarrass unsuspecting yokels at the stop light.

According to Motor Trend, the V6 Camry will hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.8 seconds and run the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds at 99.6 mph.

The ultra-refined 3.5-liter V6 delivers gobs of power without hesitation.

The dual exhaust will even emit a pleasing bestial growl. Something I never thought I’d say about a Camry.

Around corners, the Camry also surprised with its grip and rigid chassis.

When not in speed demon mode, the Camry returns to its normal state as a comfortable, well-mannered family hauler. Its cabin is a quiet, refined, and all-around pleasant place to be.


The verdict.

Our 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 test car.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Simply put, the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 is magnificent. It’s refined, comfortable, powerful, quick, and surprisingly fun to drive.

The new sheet metal and interior accents give the Toyota a new edginess that actually feels right. For me, the new Camry is a lot like Sriracha. It adds a pleasant kick to a bland dish without being offensively spicey like a habanero that scorches a hole in your tongue.

At the end of the day, the 2018 Toyota Camry is still the Camry we have come to love over the past three decades. It’s still built as solid as a stone Cathedral. It’s still going to be as family friendly as Mr. Rogers. And it’s still a bit soulless.

I really like it.