Ever since it arrived for 1983 as the first ever transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive Toyota, the Camry has been a sane, sensible family sedan. Over six succeeding generations, the Camry executed that mission so well that it became America’s best-selling passenger car—but also among its most boring. Now, however, company boss Akio Toyoda wants to banish boring, which means big changes for the brand’s big seller. The effort got off to a tentative start with a more-extensive-than-usual mid-cycle update for 2015 but reaches full flower with the all-new eighth-generation car. This Camry really wants to party.
To start, there’s the styling. In its family-sedan segment, it’s the equivalent of a purple mohawk. The new car is longer, lower, and (fractionally) wider, giving it a slightly lower-slung profile. Up front there’s an angry-looking visage marked by a pinched upper grille and a gaping lower maw. The bottom edge of the fascia flares outward, as do the rocker panels; the shoulder line kicks up behind the rear doors; and a crease slashes across the C-pillar and extends back to the decklid spoiler. SE and XSE models have their own, even busier front and rear styling, plus additional sculpting on the rockers and a rear bumper that emulates a diffuser. XSE versions offer a black roof. One can argue whether the new Camry’s styling looks better, but there is no question that there’s more of it.
The interior is funkier, too, binning the previous slablike dash for a more three-dimensional design bisected by a wavelike trim piece. The triangular center stack angles toward the driver, while on the passenger’s side the dash curves away to create a greater sense of spaciousness. The gloss-black region into which the central touchscreen is integrated provides today’s requisite smartphone-mimicking appearance, but it retains enough knobs and physical buttons to make for easy operation. Top-spec models enjoy padded surfaces, soft-touch plastics, and…