Toyota has been undergoing a massive style transformation after it got a mandate from the CEO not to make boring cars anymore.
Ian Cartabiano, the chief designer at Lexus and Toyota’s in-house Calty Design Research studio in California, took that message seriously and has been pumping out “not boring” products ever since.
“We wanted to make this car sexy,” Cartabiano said about the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry. Even if you don’t think the new Camry is sexy, you can certainly appreciate its bold new design.
But the Camry’s new style goes beyond just slapping a mean new grille on and calling it a day. Cartabiano says the Camry’s new design is rooted in the little details, many of which he had to fight for.
Black Contrast Roof
The new Camry is available with a contrast black roof, which is supposed to make it look sportier and high-end.
“I was so amazed that the black roof made it because on such a mass production car where the production line time is money, to take the extra time to do that is unbelievable,” Cartabiano said. He said it was a fight to bring this feature to production models because the process for making the contrast roof added a lot of cost and time to the manufacturing process. Each black roof is hand-painted in the Kentucky factory, and it’s pretty remarkable for something that bespoke to be available on a mass-market product.
On the back of the new family sedan, you’ll notice that the word CAMRY is spelled out in a tidy mid-century modern font across the center of the back of the trunk instead of being relegated to the side like in the past. This was a fight because it also increased the time and cost of manufacturing: It was tough convincing the bean counters that five individual badges instead of one made fiscal sense. Why did they fight so hard for this new badge? “Visually, we wanted to symbolize a big change for the company and the car,” Cartabiano said, and putting the word Camry front and center shows that driving a Camry is something to be proud of. This Camry isn’t trying to hide anymore.
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New Badge Placement
The front badge on the Camry is actually the only part that carried over from the previous-generation Camry, but the placement is totally new. Instead of being placed on top of the grille, the designers wanted it recessed into the grille so it could be better integrated. The whole design of the front grille now revolves around the Toyota badge instead of it being an afterthought.
There are so many new creases on the new Camry’s body that it required a whole new manufacturing process. Generally, the more variation there is in a car’s surface and panels, the more expensive it is to manufacture, so very curvy and creased surfaces are things that are typically reserved for higher-end cars.
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“The amount of shape on the door panel is really huge,” Cartabiano said. “If you run your hand along the door, the amount of surface movement is really crazy and it took not only new sheetmetal stamping, but changing the side member, which is what protects you in a crash.” Designers worked very closely with engineers to make sure the car got high-end surfacing but that it didn’t compromise safety.
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