Revealed at Detroit’s NAIAS in January this year, the new 2018 Toyota Camry is now ready for the showroom floor in the US, where deliveries will start in late summer. Toyota is really excited about this eighth-generation sedan, which is one that has evolved from a proven, dependable and safe car to one that adds a more exciting and emotional character. That’s the claim.

Like it or not, no one can say that the new Camry is a wallflower. While North America’s Camry has possessed a sporty flavour (relative to the chrome-laden version the rest of the world including Malaysia gets) for some time now, this is a big step further in that direction.

There were three primary design goals when penning the all-new Camry: a distinctive, low centre of gravity that results in a firm wide stance; a practical-yet-emotionally styled cabin profile, and a sporty and upscale image both inside and out. A strong harmony between refinement and a “sensual athletic image” was what they were aiming for.

The 2018 Camry has an obviously sleeker profile. By lowering the hip points of the occupants (nearly 1.0-inch in front and 1.2-inches at the rear), and therefore their seating positions, Toyota was able to reduce the car’s overall height by around an inch from the outgoing car and incorporate a lower roofline, without sacrificing cabin space.

The new Camry has two “Keen Look” faces – the super wide-mouthed LE/XLE and the SE/XSE, which has a pinched mouth and “Catamaran-inspired” accents for the full alien face. One is supposed to be more luxury, the other more sporty – which is more to your taste? By the way, the designers sought to make the SE face instantly recognisable and appear different from the other models from 200 metres away.

Both faces feature a 1.6-inch-lower aluminium hood and a two-piece grille. The Toyota emblem on the Hybrid is blue-tinged. Speaking of that, there’s a new Camry badge at the back to match the radical new design. A crease extends from the slim taillights down to the bumper, effectively “pushing” the wheels outward in appearance for a wider impression.

It is in fact wider. The new midsize (in America) sedan is 4,859 mm long (+10 mm), 1,834 mm wide (+13 mm) and 1,440 mm high (-30 mm), with a wheelbase of 2,824 mm (+48 mm).

the changes inside are even bigger. Sporty is again the key word here, and the driver sits in a ‘cockpit’ with gauges angled toward his or her direction. A key visual element of the new dash is a sweeping new character line that flows down from the instrument cluster and bisects the centre console waterfall.

Another unique approach is the mix of tones and hues throughout a space rather than a strict colour profile, which Toyota says is inspired by home furnishing. All cabin surfaces employ the highest grade of soft touch and premium materials, the company claims. The front seats are new, and they now provide maximum comfort with a newfound level of ease and engagement to match the new Camry’s elevated performance and athleticism, Toyota says.

The new Camry features Toyota’s latest Human Machine Interface (HMI) which relays info through three interlinked displays: a 10-inch colour head-up display, a seven-inch MID within the instrument cluster and an eight-inch audio/navigation display and AC control flush in the centre console.

A new nine-speaker JBL premium audio system with Sound Staging (emulates a live concert venue), Low Frequency Sounds (made possible by a 10.1-inch subwoofer) and Clari-Fi (‘uncompresses’ music to help restore a track’s dynamic range) is available.

The new Camry is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that also underpins the Prius. By extending the wheelbase by two inches, as well as bringing down the roof and hood height, Toyota lowered the centre of gravity and created a wider and more composed vehicle. Everything is lowered – the driver’s seating position, heel point for more foot room and ease of movement, hood, cowl, and dashboard height. The range of steering adjustment has been increased.

Toyota says that the front occupants will experience unprecedented outward visibility, thanks to a more compact design for the instrument panel and a lowered beltline, plus repositioned A-pillars and side mirror sections.

Three new powertrains will be available. They include a 3.5 litre V6 with D-4S fuel injection, a 2.5 litre “Dynamic Force” four-cylinder with a new eight-speed automatic, and a next-generation Toyota Hybrid System (THS II).

The all-new Dynamic Force Engine is set to be the most popular choice, and it puts out 206 hp at 6,600 rpm and 253 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm (176 hp/222 Nm in the Hybrid). The engine features VVT-iE on the intake side while utilizing VVT-i for the exhaust, and a high and efficient compression ratio of 13:1 (longer stroke to achieve this) for increased thermal and fuel efficiency. The variable valve timing system uses an electric motor instead of oil pressure to control timing.

The engine uses a combination of both higher-pressure direct fuel injection (DI) and lower-pressure port fuel injection (PFI), as well as new multi-hole (six per injector) nozzle direct injectors for better economy and power. Combined fuel economy is 26% improved over the old car.

Unlike chief rival Honda Accord, which is ditching its big V6 for a high-powered 2.0 turbo for the next-gen, the Camry is sticking to a big NA engine at the top. The 3.5 litre V6 is equipped with D-4S direct injection and VVT-iW variable valve timing. Output is 301 hp and 363 Nm of torque at 4,700 rpm, while fuel economy is 8% better than before.

Both petrol engines are mated to a new Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the old six-speed auto, the new gearbox’s torque converter offers a wider range of lock-up for a more direct driving feel, while contributing to improved fuel efficiency through suppressed engine revving.

The 2018 Camry Hybrid uses a CVT, but it features a new Sport Mode with six virtual ratios. Sport also improves acceleration thanks to an electric power boost from the hybrid system. FC is 30% better in the Hybrid.

The latest Hybrid is equipped with a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack on the LE grade and Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack on the SE and XLE. The battery has moved from the trunk to beneath the rear seats, a position with a lower center of gravity axis.

Toyota is promising ‘sporty handling’ and ‘enhanced ride quality’ for the new Camry. Improved structural rigidity (new platform, increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel, application of a new molding tech), a new double-wishbone rear suspension system, and a new four-point engine mounting system (improves NVH performance) are contributing factors.

“In order to create something that stirs people’s soul, we’ve laid out the concept of a new sedan that provides fun and excitement behind the wheel. In developing the next-generation Toyota Camry, we were able to start with a clean slate, which allowed us to create a true driver’s car,” said Camry chief engineer Masato Katsumata. Sounds like something Mazda would say…

Last but not least, safety. Toyota Safety Sense P is standard across the board and the suite bundles Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Automatic High Beams. Select models will also come with Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. All 2018 Camrys have 10 airbags and a reverse camera.

Priced from $23,495 for a base 2.5 L to $34,950 for an XSE V6, the 2018 Camry rolls out from its American manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky, as it has been for three decades now (a reminder to President Trump). It is of course the best-selling car in the US, a crown that the midsize Toyota has held for 15 consecutive years. US Camry sales have surpassed the 10 million mark since 1983.

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry LE

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry SE

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid