By on December 2, 2016

2018 Toyota Camry (Image: Toyota)

Midsize cars just don’t excite like they used to. North American buyers have happily made the switch to voluminous crossovers and SUVs, turning the once top-ranked segment into a raisin on the vine.

Toyota hopes to change that, announcing that next month’s North American International Auto Show will reveal the next generation of the first midsizer off anyone’s lips — Camry. Perhaps realizing that name recognition and safe styling is no longer a surefire plan for sales dominance, the automaker has scheduled its uber-sensible sedan for an image makeover.

Going by a teaser photo released by Toyota yesterday, the 2018 Camry adopts much edgier styling cues. Forget about the rounded-off beige boxes of the 1990s (though they’ll always have a place in this writer’s heart).

While we don’t have the whole picture here, the vehicle’s aggressively reshaped rear bumper (complete with air vents, faux or functional) and sweeping character line merging the C-pillar and trunk lid could cause palpitations and feelings of confusion in traditional Camry buyers. Spy photos suggest an even wider grille up front.

“For years, we’ve had a reputation for high-quality, durable products that were perhaps somewhat conservative in design,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. sales head, in a Bloomberg interview. The time is right to shake things up, Carter said, as the midsize sedan segment needs a boost.

“But perhaps now we’re going to see some real innovation that should sustain it, and who knows, bring some growth back,” he said.

The upcoming Camry won’t be alone at NAIAS. Expected to join it is the 2018 Honda Accord, and the next-gen Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima could also make an appearance. Crossover popularity aside, Toyota still needs to keep its midsize rivals at bay.

Riding on the global TNGA platform that underpins the Prius, the 2018 Camry could ditch its optional V6 in favor of a turbo four-cylinder. It could also drop weight through the use of aluminum — strategies already adopted by other models in this segment.

[Image: Toyota]

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78 Comments on “Next-gen Toyota Camry Headed for Detroit, Hopes to Rekindle the Midsize Fire...”


  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Wonder how all of this “edginess” is going to effect resale value.

  • avatar
    redliner

    If they make it look like the new Prius, the Camry will be over as the sales force we know.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The tail shot is promising, but the nose could screw it up if they propagate the Predator face.

    • 0 avatar

      Traditionally, Toyotas were staid, inoffensive, maybe a bit boring, much like early 1950s Chryslers. Now they’ve gone with “The Forward Look.” The newest models — particularly the Prius — look like they’ve been lacerated multiple times with an ugly stick.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        Interesting comparison; I think the comparison between early 50’s Mopars and “Fat” Toyotas holds – both were stodgy, but mechanically bombproof.

        I don’t think the comparison between the cartoonish overstyled modern Toyotas and the “Forward Look” cars holds up. The forward look cars of 1957 were initially well received based on their styling, and to my eye they are still among the best looking cars of the era, but the reliability was poor as they were rushed into production before they were fully developed.

        In congrast, modern Toyotas continue to have above average reliablity, although it’s possible that the styling might be putting buyers off in some cases and they certainly aren’t to my taste.

        Personally, I think bland and innoffensive is the way to go when it comes to styling something like a Camry. I suspect most people buy these cars because of reliablity, comfort, and resale value rather than a desire to make a bold statement with styling.

        • 0 avatar
          Caboose

          Agreed. The problem with most current mid-sizers isn’t that they’re not sporty enough; it’s that they’re too sporty by half. So swoopy are they that the trunk openings are weird, the rear seat roofline won’t accommodate adults over 5’7″. Utility of a fundamentally utility-rationalized segment has been sacrificed on the altar of identity crisis.

          • 0 avatar

            The insides are ridiculous. Not long ago I rented a Chrysler 300 to carry 4 adults and a 5-year-old on a 250-mile round trip.

            My wife, not one who is up on cars, said, “is THIS what passes for full-size these days?”

            What’s worse is that the 300 had more usable room than any Impala or Avalon I’ve been in the past few years. And I don’t even want to talk about the Ford Taurturous.

            Today’s LTD, LeSabre, etc. really is a minivan or one of the monster CUV/SUVs.

        • 0 avatar

          I didn’t intend to put down “The Forward Look.” I’d personally love a Chrysler 300F or Plymouth Fury from that era.

          But the impetus to create that design was similar to Toyota’s need to “do something” about their styling. Chrysler spent the first half of the Fifties selling cars “a man could wear his hat in.” That obviously didn’t work, so they made a drastic change.

          It worked for sales and as a design to stand the test of time. But yes, Chrysler seems to have been hit with a 6-decade genetic curse for poor quality.

          I agree that unless they’re doing something special, Toyota needs to stick with bland and inoffensive. Screw “edgy.” How is that working for Cadillac?

          The question this brings up for me is how much does good design matter in beige-mobiles? Is that giant ugly stick running rampant in Toyota’s design studio hurting sales? I kind of like the Corolla but RAV4, Highlander, Tacoma….awful.

          Then there’s the Prius line. I do know sales are down, a lot. Yes I know lack of demand is partly low gas prices, and that everyone who wants one of those contraptions already has one and will hold onto it for 150,000 miles or more.

          Still, I can’t help thinking sales, even to fleet and returning customers, would be better if the current Prius line weren’t so damn hideous!

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned (at lest for a millennial) but I’m not a fan of replacing the optional V6 in midsize cars with an optional 2.0T. My wife and I just bought a 2017 Accord V6 specifically because it came with a V6. There was no penalty in gas mileage vs the competition with 2.0T engines. Plus the Accord V6 beats it’s competitors with 2.0T engines like a red headed step child when it comes to acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      Yes and it is also a shame that you can no longer get an LE Camry or LX Accord with a V6: blame economics I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Yup.

      Fingers crossed they’re keeping the 2GR in some form.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The appeal for the manufacturers is that a 2.0T and n/a 2.5L both have about the same engineering footprint and crash in pretty much the same way, versus the extra work in allowing for a V6 in the same space. The lighter nose weight and easier power/emissions control of the turbo are nice side benefits.

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        I know that’s why the trend towards 2.0T engines has taken hold. They just don’t feel the same as a 3.0-3.5 V6, at least to me. The needs of most buyers/the company out weigh what they few people like myself want. When I went looking for my Accord most dealers local to me only had one or two V6 cars on the lot. The rest were 4 cylinder models, which they sell more of.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Yea it sucks, but what can we really do about it? Most shoppers don’t care and the global auto markets and govt regulations favor lower displacement with fewer cylinders.

      On the bright side, you’ve got a good example of the end-of-the-line in your garage.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Don’t cry too much over the v6 FWD family cars. The hybrid Fusion and Camry crack off 0-60s in the 6 second range, people get 35-40 mpg on the freeway with them, the hybrids are less expensive than the big engine options, and as Taxis they seem to run for 400k miles easily.

      Past 200 ft. lbs of torque, some of that torque should really go to the rear wheels. Big engine FWD cars are neat but they’re relics.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      All 2.0Ts are not created equal. FoMoCo & H/K’s seems to underwhelm, but the Germans seem to defy physics. I think a huge part of it is the fuel they are tuned to. I’m pretty sure FoMoCo + H/K tune their 2.0Ts for regular fuel, which completely neuters them. Germans don’t.

      With the Japanese, it looks like it’s gonna be a real mixed bag. The IS200t does about what’s expected with its HP. The Civic 1.5T, by relative comparison, is a rocket. So I don’t know which way it will go. I will say this- the Camry V6 I recently test drove was quick, but not necessarily brutal like the modded VQ35s I use as reference points for V6s. On part throttle the Golf TSI rental I had felt just as effortless on the highway. So realistically unless you are one of those “drive it for 15 years” freaks worried about turbo repair costs I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Wow, I guess I didn’t realize the next gen Sonata, Accord, and Altima are due as well. Gonna be interesting.

    Really curious to see if Honda keeps the 6sp available in the sedan. I really hope they don’t make it look like the Civic. The current Accord is the best looking midsize IMO.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Comfortable and reliable yes, but an exciting Camry? That’s almost worth going to Detroit in winter to see.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      At least the red Camry will break up all of the gray outside. Winter in Detroit is so depressing that you’ll think about cutting your wrists just to see some color.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        OK, you talked me out of it.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Let me try again in my Tim Allen Pure Michigan voice:

          Cue music:

          It’s January in Michigan. A new fallen blanket of snow covers the city of Detroit.

          The gray skies and cold winter nights perfectly accent the post industrial hellscape. This once booming city is now the place that hope goes to die.

          From the heroin needle filled alleys, burning trash can lined streets, and over miles crumbling infrastructure, winter in Detroit is Pure Michigan.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nothing says driving excitement quite like putting non-functional vents on a mid-size family car.

    How about a better quality interior and updating the aging platform instead?

  • avatar

    “The all-new Toyota Camry Sport XSE. Now with performance seat stitching!”


    “For years, we’ve had a reputation for high-quality, durable products that were perhaps somewhat conservative in design,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. sales head, in a Bloomberg interview.

    “Somewhat conservative”? The things were anycars that looked like they were intended for people whose idea of excitement was stamp collecting and daring the gray socks instead of the black ones.

    Let’s not give Toyota a pass here. Going for utter blandness in one’s products is a design fail.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The only lust I expect a Camry to be part of is if an accountant corners his secretary in the backseat.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Ya know, they ALWAYS say the next Camry is going to be a bolder design, including the current, boring-looking, DLO FAIL design. But there’s only so much you can do with the hard points of a large-ish family sedan. Also, in an effort not to offend too many thousands of potential buyers, the “edgier” or “more aggressive” designs being touted always end up looking pretty warmed over. Add to that the fact the dang thing is every other sedan on the road within weeks of launch, and no one’s heart is getting set aflame.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    ‘dem taillights!

    The first time I saw the latest Prius I was wondering what the heck I was looking at. I don’t want to see the Camry/Avalon following this design path.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I have good morning and a song I sing,
    “Lipstick on a pig, lipstick on a pig”

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Midsize FWD aren’t exciting, and neither are their CUV cousins, esp when most of the latter are built on the same platforms. They are all simply conveyances and on a higher level have few real differences. You all allow yourselves to be played by “styling” and “edgy” bullsh*t because you all enjoy lying to yourselves; your real lives are not what you want them to be. Wake the frack up and be the person you want to be, because life is too short to do otherwise.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    That tail light won’t let me stop thinking ’59 Chevy.

  • avatar
    John

    Makes as much sense as Cadillac’s marketing to hipsters. Nobody buys a Camry for “edgy” styling, or an “aggressively reshaped rear bumper” complete with phony air vents. Does Toyota think the Camry competes with the Veloster, or Juke? IMHO the Camry’s design should shout “reliable, economical transportation” because that is why it sells so well.

    As a side note – when we have an “edgy” Prius, and an “edgy” Camry, we will finally have arrived at the end of “edgy” styling. Wonder what will replace it?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    That should just about kill off the midsize sedan segment.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    They really don’t get it. Midsize sedan buyers are always more conservative than any other buyer. They have some means to choose, and they chose midsize sedan. So why, then, do you add stupid fake inlets, vents, etc.? Those bumper covers are going to be $2-3K to replace if you crack one. Isn’t the new Prius hideous enough? So the conservative sedan buyers will look at that swoopy pile of trash, shrug, and buy an Accord with its straight(er) lines.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I suspect this may be designed for other markets where a Camry sized Toyota is an aspirational car, and where tastes are different than they are in North America.

      It sure doesn’t appeal to me though!

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    The taillight looks like Cadillac headlight. Rip!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Instead of curving those fake vents down, straighten them up, and run them the entire length of the car, along the beltline. Go the full ugly.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    When will the “Camry Deathwatch” start?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Maybe wishful thinking, but do I see a little Giulia in that C-pillar? Toyota may be totally Myspace angling it but to my eyes this thing looks pretty good.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Forget about the rounded-off beige boxes of the 1990s”

    You mean the good ones?

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Just wait….the grill will be a beautiful copy of the Lexus current grills
    All Toyota grills are UGLY

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m seeing current-gen Forte and I don’t think I like it. The last midsizer that I owned, my part-time use Century notwithstanding, was an 06 Grand Prix. In retrospect that was a bit goofy looking, They’re not showing enough of this to be sure, but Toyota hasn’t been anything less than vomit inducing for years.

    Then again,I don’t want a midsizer as a primary vehicle, nor do I need one. Styling being subjective, I prefer the Mazda6 (as far as vehicles I could reasonably expect to afford) and bought a Mazda3; the 7/10s Mazda6.

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