The 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?
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.