Of all the words you expect to hear when Toyota brings out a new Camry, bold is not one of them. And yet that’s exactly how Toyota is portraying the 2015 rethink of America’s bestselling car for the last 12 years. Is going bold and beautiful really what the Camry needs to stay on top?
While you could argue that boldness is not something most buyers are looking for when it comes time to replace the family sedan, wearing attention grabbing new garb is exactly how Toyota hopes to attract converts to the 2015 Camry.
And that strategy is on full display in new XSE grade trim, where there’s no denying the big mouth, Lexus-like black mesh grille, available LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels.
More than a typical mid-cycle refresh, the new Camry adds almost 2 inches in length and significant road presence. The smooth rear with well integrated wrap around tail lamps keep things from getting too far down the daring track.
Inside, there’s a wide center stack, with lots of big, refreshingly simple switchgear. Up top, there’s a 7-inch high-res touchscreen display for the standard back-up camera. And a 4-inch Info Display in the Optitron gauge panel helps you get all the pertinent information while keeping your eyes directed forward.
These days, no nameplate is immune from advancing interior refinement, and materials throughout the cabin are upgraded. The Utrasuede on the seats and door panels is quite nice, though most thought that Toyota could have gone further by removing the fake dash stitching and subpar plastics.
10 standard airbags include knee airbags up front, and seat-mounted side airbags in the rear.
Lots has been done to quell interior noise, with Camry now approaching Lexus levels of solitude. Camry seats have always been a great place to drive the day away, and that remains the case.
Interior dimensions are exactly the same as before. So, there’s still plenty of room in the rear seat. Cargo capacity is also unchanged at 15.4 cubic-ft. 60/40 split folding seatbacks are standard; with hard plastic on those seatbacks making for easy loading and even easier clean-up.
As for the highway driving experience, seldom a past Camry’s strong point, the suspension sees its fair share of improvements too. This XSE goes the furthest at feeling “sporty” of any Camry yet with stiffer springs and upgraded shocks, firmer bushings, and retuned electric power steering with notably more feel. Even the ride benefits from the renewed Camry’s stiffer structure.
Not much new in the powertrain however, where you’ll find the same standard 2.5-liter I4 with 178-horsepower and 170 lb-ft. of torque, and optional 3.5-liter V6 with 268-horsepower and 248 lb-ft. of the good stuff. Both with 6-speed automatic transmissions, though SE and XSE trims add steering wheel paddle shifters. And of course a CVT equipped Camry Hybrid is still available as well.
Our XSE came V6-equipped and we found it surprisingly quick and nimble at our test track. Where we could easily sense a more solid disposition, and less body roll; although there is still plenty of softness and understeer. Grip through the cones was decent even on a cold winter’s day, thanks to the 18-inch Michelin Primacy tires; and steering that proved quick and direct.
Things were more impressive when we kept the wheel straight and the throttle planted. There’s nice power right from the get-go that had us hitting 60 in 6.2-seconds. Transmission shifts were “quick-ish”, and we finished out the ¼ in 14.9-seconds at 99 miles-per-hour. Nice, short stops of 117-feet from 60, proved this Camry’s got the goods to keep your family safe.
Advanced safety systems abound. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert in one package, while the Advance Technology Pack adds Pre-Collision System, Radar Cruise, and Lane Departure Alert.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the V6 are 21-City, 31-Highway, and 25-Combined, which we just about matched with our average of 24.8 miles-per-gallon of Regular. So, the Energy Impact Score is slightly better than average with 13.2-barrels of oil burned annually and 5.9 tons of CO2 emissions.
Base Camry pricing begins with LE trim at $23,795. XSEs start at $26,975. 6-cylinder XSEs come with a few minor additional features, but cost a steep $5,220 more.
Beside 20-15’s XSE trim, a 2016 Special Edition Camry, just revealed at the Chicago Auto Show, will soon join the lineup.
So, no matter what quibbles we have with the 2015 Toyota Camry, it’s delivers a wide array of unexpected improvements to America’s top selling car. They didn’t have to do it to stay number one. But, we’re certainly glad they did.
Engine: 2.5 liter/ 3.5-liter
Horsepower: 178/ 268
Torque: 170 lb-ft./ 248 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 99 mph
EPA: 21 mpg city/ 31 mpg Highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr