Toyota reveals redesigned Camry at Detroit auto show

DETROIT—Toyota is seeking to inject fresh energy into the best-selling car in America, Toyota Camry, as low gasoline prices undermine mid-size sedans and nudge consumers into crossovers and sport-utility vehicles.

The Japanese automaker revealed the redesigned, eighth-generation of the Camry at the Detroit auto show Monday.

The vehicle's release also comes as Toyota is under fire from President-elect Donald Trump for expanding production of other vehicles in Mexico, including the Tacomamid-size pickup truck and Corolla compact sedan.

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In what seemed like a presentation geared specifically to highlight the company's American presence, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda emphasized that his company would invest $10 billion over the next five years in the U.S. It was not immediately clear how that compares to the company's typical ongoing investments or how the figure came about.

The Camry, as it happens, is the most made-in-America vehicle in the U.S., according to a Cars.com analysis.

But as American consumers flock to big vehicles, Toyota is suddenly flat-footed with its lineup full of historically stalwart compact cars, mid-size sedans and hybrids.

After years of resilience, the Japanese automaker lost U.S. market share in 2016 for the second-straight year, as low gasoline prices led buyers to snap up crossovers, pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

Camry remains the best-selling car in America and the fourth-best-seller overall, behind three pickup trucks. But sales fell 9.5% in 2016 to 388,616 units.

Consider this redesign more structural overhaul than cosmetic revolution. Toyota engineers designed the Camry using a global architectural platform that is shared with other vehicles of similar size and allows the company to spread out costs and improve quality.

In a jovial presentation with several quips that inspired laughter, Toyoda joked that customers will get a choice between "sexy and really sexy."

"Why should SUVs get all the glory?" he said, adding that he personally played a role in the vehicle's design.

It's a little longer, with the wheelbase growing by 2 inches, a little lower, with the roof 1 inch shorter and the hood height 1.6 inches closer to the ground.

The lower and longer framework is the new normal in the auto industry, with designers seeking an athletic look to help cars differentiate with crossovers that can still feel bulky.

The 2018 Camry comes with three new powertrain options: a 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder engine; a 2.5-liter, inline-4 gas engine paired with 8-speed automatic transmission, and a hybrid.

Toyota promised "best-in-class fuel economy" without offering details.

“The all-new 2018 Camry is, without a doubt, the most captivating mid-size sedan we’ve ever produced,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations, in a statement. “It delivers on everything Camry owners have come to expect from America’s best-selling car, and adds to it, jaw-dropping design, more advanced technology, cutting-edge safety systems, and stirring performance that raises it to an unparalleled level of excitement.”

Standard safety technologies on the Camry include a 10 air bags, pedestrian detection system, range-dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams.


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