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From bland to bold? Toyota is teasing a new look for the 2018 Camry

There are many reasons Toyota’s Camry midsize sedan is one of the best-selling cars of all time, but none of those reasons relate to the car’s design. Camry buyers simply don’t care if their vehicle is striking; more important to them is a reliable, fuel-efficient, safe, and comfortable commuter vehicle.

Conservative styling has worked for Toyota for decades, but something about the teaser image of the 2018 Camry says the Japanese automaker is about to break new ground. Debuting at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show in January, the next-generation Camry will serve up a new challenge to its main rivals – the Ford Fusion, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Hyundai Sonata.

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While the teaser only shows a sliver of the car, we can see cues like thin LED taillights, a trunk-mounted spoiler, strong and swooping character lines, fake rear air vents, and large wheels. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost call the image “exciting.”

Toyota has made some outlandish production vehicles recently, though not everything has received a warm reception. The new Prius, for example, is bold, but hardly beautiful. By contrast, the C-HR (due next year), wears its extreme styling quite well. It’s difficult to say from such a small glimpse whether the new Camry will be more of an experimental success or failure, but with Toyota’s competition taking bigger design leaps lately, you can understand why the conservative manufacturer is taking a risk.

Styling aside, the new Camry will ride on the same modular platform that underpins the Prius – which is great news, considering that chassis is one of the best parts of the Prius – and will use both 2.5-liter four-cylinder and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. There are also rumors of a 3.5-liter, V6-powered TRD Camry to rival Ford’s Fusion Sport. The Camry line-p will be rounded out by a hybrid version due in 2018.