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Welcome to the website of award-winning travel journalist, Caribbean expert and stylish globetrotter Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, aka JetSetSarah. Check me out—I’m pretty cool!

Touring the Florida Keys in the 2018 Toyota Camry

Touring the Florida Keys in the 2018 Toyota Camry

Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (“Toyota”) provided me with compensation and use of the 2018 Camry for a short period of time. The opinions I’ve shared about this vehicle are mine, all mine!

Eleven years is a long time. And in “car years,” well, it’s practically an eternity.

Features that are commonplace on today’s vehicles (think satellite radio, mobile phone integration and USB ports tucked into every crevice) either weren’t offered or were beyond my budget when I last bought a car, back in 2006. Since then, my current ride has racked up almost 100,000 miles and started to make worrisome noises. Even the previously frigid A/C has become temperamental. And as much as I still love Scotch Bonnet (she’s fiery red and named after the equally fiery Jamaican hot pepper), I know it’s coming to the point where it makes more sense to buy or lease a new car than to pour money into a rapidly depreciating asset. 

 My chariot awaits!

My chariot awaits!

So I was particularly excited to partner with Southeast Toyota Distributors recently to test drive the 2018 Toyota Camry. On a sunny Friday morning, my co-pilot/husband and I rolled up to Toyota of North Miami and were handed the keys to spanking new (only 50 miles on the clock) metallic red beauty, which we took on a weekend road trip from Miami to Key Largo. Now, 200 hundred miles and three days later, here are my impressions of the newest iteration of Toyota’s much-loved mid-size model.

All Keyed Up It’s probably old hat to all you new car owners out there, but I got a real kick out of the fact that you don’t need to actually put the key either in the car door to get in or in the ignition to start it. Today’s tech means that you need only have the key somewhere near the car (even in the bottom of your handbag) for the door locks to activate. Simply put your thumb on the ridges of the door handle, push, and presto, you’re in! And once you’re inside, the key can stay in your bag because a press of the start/stop button on the dash is all you need to get going. Nifty!

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Prime Position When you’re only 4’ 9,” getting a good view of the road can be a challenge. I can’t tell you how much adjusting it takes to get the seat high enough so I can see over the windshield wiper blades; close enough to the pedals so I can reach them without stretching; and to reposition the steering wheel so it’s low enough not to obstruct my view. But in the Camry, I could customize every part of the driver’s seat to my comfort, moving it not just back and forward but also upward to get a complete view of the road and of the heads-up display, which projects your speed onto the windscreen so you can simultaneously keep your eyes on the road as well as on your speed, navigation, and outside temperature. Honestly, sitting in the Camry’s driver seat felt to me like being a pilot in the cockpit of a plane. I had command of the road and all the info I needed to make quick decisions right there within my line of sight. Safety never felt so sexy!

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Strong and Silent When the sound system wasn’t pumping (gotta love that Sirius XM!) I was struck by how quiet the cabin was. In my car I’m used to hearing all the city’s sounds and feeling every bump in its streets. But the Camry handled my neighborhood’s potholes and metal plates with ease, and once we got on the Turnpike, well, it was like we were gliding, baby! I appreciated the way the designers have combined comfort and power into a car that goes from zero to 60 in less than 10 seconds (or so I’ve heard, wink wink!) but, in terms of creature comforts, sacrifices nothing to do so.

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Fully Charged If you’re a heavy iPhone user like me, you’re in luck. Because the Camry has so many USB ports (there were three in the front of the model I tested) you can charge all your iEverythings on the go. And the way the center console compartment lid closes securely even when your charging cord is sticking out was pretty smart, too.

Custom Climates I always say that I love air-conditioning so much that I’d marry it if I could (yeah, I’m kinda weird that way). My husband, on other hand, thinks anything under 78 degrees is “chilly.” But we were both comfy in the Camry because of the dual climate controls, which allowed me to enjoy a tundra-like 68 degrees while he basked in a Saharan 78-degree environment on the passenger side. This may not seem like such a big deal to you but for me it was major. One: Because hot flashes are a living hell. Two: Because now I don’t have to kill my husband when he complains about being “cold” when it’s 72. That alone has got to be worth the sticker price, right?!

OK, enough talk! Wanna see the 2018 Camry in action? Check out this video of our Camry/Key Largo adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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