By on September 1, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE and 2016 Toyota Camry SE - Images: ToyotaThe 2018 Toyota Camry is the first truly, completely, all-new Toyota Camry since 2002. Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, it’s stiffer, safer, and by all accounts, substantially better to drive than the 2017.

Fuel efficiency took a leap forward. Horsepower did, too. The feature count, including the safety department, was elevated. The 2018 Toyota Camry even has a sense of style, whether you like its sense or prefer less offensive past examples.

With an all-new architecture for an in-demand car — yes, even as sedans slow, the Camry is still the 15-time best-selling car in America — comes a lack of willingness on the part of Toyota to deal. That’s made all the more true by the current cost of importing Camrys. While production will eventually be in full swing at the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, early copies of the 2018 Camry hail from Japan.

Rare will be the buyer who heads into a U.S. Toyota store this Labor Day weekend with a strong preference for the old Camry, still available in abundance on dealer lots. Even with concerns (albeit modest concerns; this is a Camry) regarding first-model-year reliability, the MY2018 Camry is the bright and shiny object.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is better than the 2017 Toyota Camry: objectively, subjectively, on paper, on the road. But is it 41-percent better?

How much is the new base engine, pumping out 206 horsepower and hitting 41 miles per gallon on the highway, worth to you? What about lane keeping technology with auto high beams and adaptive cruise control?

Twenty bucks per month? Thirty bucks per month? Fifty? Eighty?

A hundred?

According to CarsDirect, lease deals on the outgoing Camry SE are currently advertised at $189 per month for a 36-month term, a 12,000-mile annual allotment, two years of complimentary maintenance, and $1,999 down. That’s an effective payment of $245 per month.

The 2018 Toyota Camry, meanwhile, is offered with identical terms. Well, identical except for the payment. 36 months, 12,000 annual miles, two years of complimentary maintenance, $1,999 down, for an effective payment of $345 per month.

That $100 difference will be worth it to the right buyer, to the early adopter. But to many members of The Camry Faithful, transportation that’s simply frugal, economical, and reliable has always been the goal. And in that regard, spending an extra $100/month for features and horsepower is pure frivolity.

Of course, this is all part of Toyota’s plan. Cars.com’s inventory reveals 13,000 2017 Camrys still in stock across America. If the 2018 Camry is priced too attractively, clearing out the 2017s will prove impossible. If the 2017 cars aren’t priced affordably, buyers will migrate to the 2018, leaving the 2017s to stagnate. A $100 payment difference is bound to steer many buyers into the old model.

CarsDirect also points out that financing offers are similarly disparate. The 2017 Camry can be had with a cash discount or interest-free financing for up to 72 months including a $500 rebate. (Expect even more.) The 2018 Camry, on the other hand, includes no rebates and no better terms than 1.9 percent over 60 months.

[Images: Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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53 Comments on “Don’t Be so Quick to Pull the Trigger on That 2018 Toyota Camry – 2017s Are Cheap and Abundant...”


  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Approaching year end combined with model end makes for a great time to buy. The downside is resale/trade in the short term. But if you wanted to buy something new to drive for 8-10 years, the next few months is the time to get a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Camries usually do not use resale issues.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        *have.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        28..Their are a lot of Camry’s that come out of the rental fleet that make for a substantial value, far more than new IMHO. Resale is decent on them, but not in the 4Runner, Unlimited Wrangler, diesel pick up neighborhood.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I haven’t checked in a while, but I know I have seen figures where 200K+ mile base Camries were pulling 4K+ on the block. One or two, average high miles in decent shape in Cali where 25K a year is not uncommmon, OK. But I was seeing these all over, and my guess is demand be it cash buyers or BHPH. I remember the fat Camries not pulling that in inflation adjusted numbers (unless you believe inflation doubled from 2005 to say last year then it makes more sense).

          Fleet Camry may be a nice value, but 60K+ miles on a rental abused Camry for maybe 5K off? No thanks. Camry was one of those things you just had to buy new because the used value buy numbers did not line up. Subaru, same deal, usually Accord/Civic as well.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Right — I agree a substantial purchase discount is warranted on outgoing model years, just for the depreciation alone. You drive a 2018 model off the lot, it loses 10% instantly. You drive a 2017 model away, it loses more like 20-25% because it’s already older on the calendar.

      But like you say, in the long run it’s a lot less relevant, but IMO this depreciation definitely closes the gap on the price difference a bit. But Timothy is talking about leases here, so it’s not a direct comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Toyota LIVES for uber cheap Camry / Corolla leases. Give it time.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Camrys are far from exotic fruit.

        I agree that the outgoing model was/is lowbrow and depressing since its 2002 reveal (the last truly refined Camry with plush ride, good to excellent NVH characteristics and nice interior materials and switchgear was 1998, IMO).

        The glossy car rags are heaping al, sorts of hyperbolic praise on the 2018 now (it’s a GAME CHANGER, DON’T YOU KNOW!), for a stiffer platform, significantly more power, better interior, and better NVH characteristics (along with dramatic fuel efficiency gains), but this is how the glossy car rag shores always play the game, almost without exception – the outgoing model is positively crap in the glowing radiance of the *all-new model.*

        Paint me more than a little cynical and skeptical based on past-and-always-advertising-dollar-from-OEM-driven-whore-glossy-magazines.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          I think the one glossy car rag I have seen doing a comparison of the new and the old (C&D) says the higher-line interiors and the lower-line ones have way too much gap between them, that they don’t look significantly better than the old ones, that the ride/handling compromise is better, they’re stiffer and that the higher horsepower in both I4 and V6 engines is not at all reflected in their performance numbers.

          And that they STILL don’t have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

          Like my old man used to say “New and improved? I thought the old one was perfect!”

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I hate the idea of becoming Camry driver

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Haven’t driven the new one, but I’ve sampled it on the lot, and compared to the outgoing model, it feels substantially cheaper.

    I’d take the old one, particularly at this giveaway price. And I’d be even more tempted to buy a CPO one. As long as you don’t demand cutting edge driving dynamics, this is a car you can’t go wrong with.

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      The new one feels cheaper? How is that even possible? I had an outgoing Camry as a rental, and it was the cheapest feeling midsize car I have encountered in years. Maybe the higher trim levels are better, but the Camry LE is a downright depressing vehicle in every way, even if it is reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The outgoing model feels more substantial to me, and better sorted out.

        The doors felt clunky and sounded hollow on the ’18. The interior looks a lot better, but the trim feels cheaper and harder. It’s possible that I just encountered an early-build example.

        Again, I haven’t driven the new model, but the old one was a long way from depressing, far as I’m concerned. It wasn’t a sport sedan by any means, but it was competent and refined.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’m curious if you drove a ’12-‘14.5 or one of the refreshed/facelifted ones. The refresh did the interior a world of good.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It was one of the refreshed ones.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            FreedMike my question was directed to r129. I can see where one would be less than thrilled with the interior materials and quality in a pre-refresh one, I know I’m not a fan of my wife’s ’12 SE interior for sure. But I’ve rented a ’15 XLE and it addressed the majority of my qualms (make no mistake, it’s no “fat” ’92-’96 car).

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          “The refresh did the interior a world of good.”
          Agreed. Our neighbours have a loaded up 2016 XLE and the interior is quite nice for a mainstream midsize sedan, and the interiors on even the lower trims are now class competitive.

          I put about 1000 km on a rented base model 2017 earlier this Summer. While there’s no way I would buy one of these with my own money, for people who value what the Camry offers it is a good choice.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        My most recent Camry rental was one of the facelifted models. I thought it was awful in just about every way, and the interior felt especially cheap for the class. I’m sure it’s a fine and reliable car for some people, just not me.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Funny, the opinions on the interior are all over the board.

      Folks either have unrealistic expectations of the type of plastics used in family sedans that start at $23K, or they are taking molehill differences between cars and making mountains of them.

      The outgoing Camry is swimming in the broad stream of mediocrity occupied by most in this class, including Accord, Malibu, Sonata and Altima. There’s cheapness all over the place in these cars. High feature content for sure, but pervasive material cheapness. If someone tells me that one of these is much nicer than the others I’m going to laugh at them because they’re probably fixated on something like their preference for fake carbon fiber versus fake brushed aluminum on the decorative dashboard flourish rather than actual material and build quality. Brand bias will absolutely put a finger on this scale as well.

      To me, the aging Passat and Fusion still have the edge here, the Passat with better fundamental materials and fit despite boring design, the Fusion with more “surprise and delight” as it were but some sloppy panel alignments. The Optima and 6 look to be a step up as well. But none of these are luxury cars.

  • avatar
    John R

    “You vs the [Camry] she tells you not to worry about…”

    Those better be some smart deals; XSE V6 to XSE V6, the 2017 looks like a real lump next to the 2018.

    cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/686760781/overview/
    cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/711018394/overview/

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Having just read the Junkyard find about the Corolla and all the related chatter about the reliability of cars back then, it made me think how for a couple of decades people paid extra for the reliability of a Toyota. Kind of like how you spent 20% more to get a Maytag in the early 70s with the expectation of trouble free performance and long life. To wit, I still use a Maytag dryer built in 1973. Some brands just did not have to discount. Fast forward to the present and Toyota now discounts like everybody else and they no longer have a lock on reliability. Has the king fallen, or has the rest caught up? I believe that it is a bit of both. Today’s Camry is certainly not built like a 1995 Camry, that’s for sure. But is it good enough? Yep. At least for the average consumer.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Predator face hit 2018 Camry with full force & fury, yo.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Not to mention the old one is much better looking. IMHO anyway. The new one is too ricey.

  • avatar

    Any one else seen the new Camry TV spots? Awful make grounded to the ground look logical.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh unless you’ve got to have it now, just wait until 2019 and I’m sure that there will be decent deals on the Camry.

    Plus I’ll always wait for extra HP and torque.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I doubt you’d have to wait until 2019 to get a good deal on the new generation of Camry. Once they have whittled down the stock of 2017 a bit and more importantly have US production up to speed the discounts on the 2018s will start. Toyota has repeatedly shown in recent years that they are the new GM and will forgo profit to take that best selling car title. I figure the discounts will start in earnest by March or so.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    My sister’s 1997 Camry reached the point where replacement was mandatory, it couldn’t pass California smog. She was going to buy a used 2016 and I told her to check on a new 2017, she might be surprised on the deal she could get. The new 2017 was cheaper than the 2016.

    • 0 avatar

      It is not the first time I see this kind of paradox when you can buy brand new Camries for less than used ones, you just have to do it at right moment like end of MY. There lot of suckers who want to buy used Toyotas – I never recommend that to my friends when they ask my advice.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    Amazing how similar the old and new ones look excluding the front clip. Most of the “excitement” seems to be in the paint schemes on the top models.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’d still rather walk than own either one. I’ve had the new one as a rental already, still a steaming pile of “meh” – and now even more eye searing to look at.

    I don’t love the Honda Accord, but while it exists there is simply no reason to even consider owning a Camry.

  • avatar
    Old Scold

    DLO fail = no. Stupid reason, but I learned why to hate it on TTAC.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Since the industry is in a contraction phase, it will only be a matter of a few months until you can get these deals on a 2018 model. I would recommend patience.

    I would skip the 2017. While they are reliable, the interior does not hold up to daily use well and the ancient platform it rides on seems to delivery both a coarse ride and terrible handling.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “the interior does not hold up to daily use well ”

      My wife’s ’12, as cheap and nasty as the interior is, has held up perfectly, a minor dash rattle in the cold aside (that one minor rattle is indeed quite un-Toyota-like compared to my old ones, frankly).

      ” ancient platform it rides on seems to delivery both a coarse ride and terrible handling”

      I’ll argue the exact opposite. Out of all of the midsizers, I find the old Toyota K-platform to be near the top of the generally much newer competitor platforms in terms of striking a balance of good ride quality over bumps small and large, and actually very competent and level handling on the SE (or XSE as they started to call them). Add to that very impressive durability of the classic macpherson front and age-old Toyota multi-link rear with the long twin parallel lower rods.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Manufacturers must always include some huge amounts in their budgets to get rid of old models when they launch new ones. Discounts of 30% or more seem common. Guess Toyota is no different.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    The LE and SE are cheap. The rest are hard to find, and it has been that way since Nov 2016 in CA & NV.

  • avatar
    Raevox

    It’s OK, I saw a 2018 on the road this past week, and I would absolutely pull the trigger on one versus a 2017.

    It looks really good in person. Low, wide, sleek. Things I never thought I’d say about a Camry.

  • avatar

    They look almost identical on photo. Looks like mild facelift, I do not care about modular or regular platform. If I forced to buy Camry I would buy old one.

    • 0 avatar
      Raevox

      That’s the key. Photo. See one in person. Your opinion will probably change.

      And a platform change can make all the difference in the world. Drive a 2016 and a 2017 Elantra, back to back, and you’d be surprised.

      • 0 avatar

        You tell me this year’s refrigerator might be better than previous year model? I do not care. Camry is A to B car, If I need a nice car there are other options most of them German (yes Fusion and Regal too).

        • 0 avatar
          Raevox

          OH, ok, you’re one of those. Got it.

          Moving along.

        • 0 avatar
          rox1

          Ditto Raevox … I never cease to be amazed at the reflexive “Camry is an appliance” moniker people put on the car – most of whom, I’m sure, have never been behind the wheel of one.

          So, riddle me this … Just what mid-size isn’t an “appliance”? The all-new Accord, which looks like a rehashed Impala, the sterling Sonata/Optima twins with their metal shaving-infused engines or, perhaps, it’s the “stunning” Mazda 6 with it’s “rust-o-matic” sheet metal? Could it be the BMW 3-series, with the patented $1000 oil change and a la carte options list that includes things standard on a Ford Focus? I’d like to know precisely what makes the Camry “vanilla” versus the “Cherry Garcia” competition.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My money would be spent on the Malibu 1.5T, but I only drove the last gen Camry, I just like the styling of ‘Bu.


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