GM, Hyundai/Kia, and Mazda have all ditched six-cylinder engines from their midsize sedan offerings in favor of turbo or hybridized four-bangers, and Honda is about to follow suit with its blockbuster Accord.
A transverse inline-four weighs less and packages much tighter than a V-6, so the entire lineup can benefit from weight and space savings of not having to accommodate a low-selling V-6 variant (Toyota pegs current V-6 share at 5-6 percent historically). But according to Toyota general manager Jack Hollis, the dealers loudly demanded the V-6 be retained. They feel the Camry V-6 helps live down the brand’s vanilla reputation—especially in its livelier new wrapper.
Hollis also described the Camry V-6 as the market’s most aspirational midsize sedan, a piece of marketing high ground he’s unwilling to give up. The 3.5-liter V-6 is redesigned for 2018, gaining 33 hp and 19 lb-ft for a total output of 301 hp and 267 lb-ft. The engine is backed by a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and is EPA-rated 22/33/26 mpg (city/highway/combined) in XLE trim, or 22/32/26 mpg in XSE. Those figures represent gains of 1 mpg in the city and 2-3 mpg on the highway.
Toyota is one of just four mainstream midsize sedan makers that continue to cling to the V-6, with the others being Nissan with its Altima 3.5, Volkswagen with its Passat V6, and Ford with its Fusion Sport. In Ford’s case, the V-6 offering is the high-performance variant of the lineup, and comes coupled to an all-wheel drive system and two turbos. But as we noted in our First Drive, the 2018 Camry could be the best handling Camry to date. Is it a match for Ford’s heavy-hitting, EcoBoost V-6-powered Fusion, though? There’s only one way to find out.
Stay tuned for a showdown between the 301-horse Camry and our nominee for midsize supremacy, the 325-hp twin-turbo V-6 AWD Ford Fusion Sport.