2018 Toyota Camry XLE and XSE

Two distinctive cars, two different lifestyles
July 9, 2017 Updated: July 9, 2017

Toyota’s 2018 Camry LE and XLE models are prim and proper vehicles. They are more like gentlemen or ladies out on a family adventure, whereas the SE and XSE “Sport” models are more about having an attitude and living a little close to the edge—no matter what excitement is discovered, there is never an apology.

The SE and XSE have their own style and unruly manners. Deep inside, they possess that sporty heart.

The Camry sports intent is highlighted by an aggressive face with large side intakes, a high slim upper intake, and a powerful center portion just underneath, with a bold black mesh grille pattern.

The new Camry XLE is precise, remarkably quiet, and technology-packed vehicle.

The SE and XSE models are wrapped in a noticeably different body style to make their attitude apparent. The differences include new 19-inch black alloy wheels (XSE only), an aggressive front bumper, large side intakes, and a few other aerodynamic goodies.

The front of these two models is showcased by attractive, stylish, and eye-catching details that keep a low center of gravity while forming an extension to the rocker panels at the rear of the vehicle.

A rear spoiler is added to the top of the trunk to aid in the aerodynamics while subtle different fins have been added around the dual exhaust outlets. A wide athletic stance places attention on the 18-inch or optional 19-inch alloy wheels.

The inside cabin contains much of the handsomely styled interior Toyota is known for. The XSE has dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and rear-seat vents, plus a drive-mode switch featuring Eco, Normal, and Sport modes.

The interior is a technological playground, with an available 10-inch color Head-Up Display (HUD) offering a customizable display of settings, including speedometer, navigation, compass, audio, phone functions, outside temperature, and display brightness (V6 models only). The overhead console is equipped with map lights and the HomeLink universal transceiver and Safety Connect button.

The XSE has two engines to choose from. An all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine is built from an aluminum alloy block with an aluminum head, that delivers 206 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine earns an EPA-estimated fuel economy average of 32 mpg.

The V6 variant, a 3.5-liter engine also built from an aluminum alloy block with an aluminum alloy head, delivers 301 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. Eight-speed Direct-Shift electronically-controlled automatic transmission helps deliver an EPA estimated economy estimated 26 mpg.

The MSRP for the XSE starts at $29,000 for the four-cylinder model, while the V6 model starts at $34,950.

The new Camry XLE is a precise, remarkably quiet, and technology-packed vehicle. Like the XSE, the XLE can choose between the 2.5 L four-cylinder and the 3.5 L V6, plus the same Direct-Shift 8AT transmission. The mileage should be comparable.

This new Camry has dramatically enhanced driving performance. The suspension has been completely redesigned with the front unit now consisting of an improved version of the previous-generation MacPherson strut setup. At the same time, the rear receives a double wishbone system that provides a high sense of control while instilling driver confidence.

The interior of the 2018 Camry XLE. (Courtesy of Toyota)
The interior of the 2018 Camry XLE. (Courtesy of Toyota)

The leather-trimmed tilt/telescopic three-spoke steering wheel puts the controls for modern technologies all at your fingertips—audio, multi-informational display, Bluetooth hands-free, voice command, full-speed dynamic cruise control, conventional cruise control, and lane departure alert.

The XLE’s interior was developed to please the eye. Items like soft-touch material upper door trim, layered wood interior trim, and interior chrome door handles add to the comfort and charm.

Power windows and locks, fabric-trimmed front seats with passenger-side cabin seatback pockets, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar, plus a six-way adjustable front passenger seat contribute to the ambiance.

Toyota has extensive standard security features under its Star Safety System branding, including technologies such as Brake Assist, Smart Stop, and a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function.

The Camry is designed to help you stretch out and relax. Versatile rear seats that split and fold forward offer numerous comfort and storage options. The 38.3 inches of front seat headroom and 42.0 inches of legroom give you an open space mindset, adding to an already happy experience.

The multi-information display puts easy-to-read data on the customizable 4.4-inch full-color TFT screen. It presents things like fuel economy, turn-by-turn navigation, and incoming call info.

The Camry XLE four-cylinder starts at $28,450 and the V6 wears a price sticker of $34,450.

The 2018 Camry is also offered in a head turning stylish and impressive Hybrid model. The price ranges from $27,800 to $32,250. More about the Hybrid in a future column.

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or at dcaussey@sbcglobal.net