The Toyota Camry has gone through something an existential crisis for 2015. Although the mid-size family sedan's sales have continued as strong as ever since its most recent redesign three years ago, Toyota's product planners have gifted the current model year car with a top-to-bottom refresh. I have to wonder what prompted this departure from Toyota's typical five-year lifecyle. Was it the pressure felt from increasingly competent offerings in the segment like the Ford Fusion, the Honda Accord, and the Hyundai Sonata, or was it the sense that the Camry's very successful formula of bland across-the-board excellence was at risk of becoming stale?
We might never find out the answer to that particular question, but ultimately the motivations behind the face-lifted 2015 Toyota Camry don't matter nearly as much as the results. After spending a week with the car, it's clear to me that Toyota is still very much on-message with the Camry, and that while the four-door commuter might present a more extroverted sheen than in years past, it's still got the same practical heart beating in its chest.
The 2015 Toyota Camry offers four trim levels, with the added wrinkles for certain models if you choose to upgrade from the four-cylinder base motor to the car's optional V-6. The most affordable version of the Camry is the LE (MSRP $22,970), which comes with 16-inch wheels, the Entune touchscreen audio interface, Bluetooth connectivity for mobile devices, power adjustments for the driver's seat, a rearview camera, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, and heated side mirrors. Choosing the Camry SE (MSRP $23,840) installs additional 'sporty' features such as a stiffer suspension system, 17-inch alloy rims in place for the LE's steel units, genuine imitation leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an upgraded gauge cluster in front of the driver, and a more aggressive exterior styling package.
If you want to pair the SE's performance personality with greater comfort, then the Camry XSE (MSRP $26,150) adds LED running lights up front, 18-inch rims, dual automatic climate control, a power passenger seat, heated sport buckets up front that are wrapped in leather (with 'sueded' accents on the door panels), and satellite radio. Finally, the Camry XLE (MSRP $26,150) keeps the luxury quotient high while stepping down to the LE's less rambunctious suspension tuning, improving ride quality by making use of 17-inch rims, and classing up the interior with full leather all around.
My test vehicle was a 2015 Toyota Camry XSE that featured Ruby Flare Pearl paint and a larger version of the Entune touchscreen that also housed a navigation system. The total price for the Camry XSE that I drove came to $26,975.
- The 2015 Toyota Camry has been completely re-styled for the current model year inside and out.
The grass is always greener, it seems, in the minds of automotive designers. The same year that the all-new Hyundai Sonata steps back from its cutting edge styling attitude we find the Toyota Camry rushing forward in an attempt to take its place. With every single body panel save the roof having been massaged compared to the model that came before it, the 2015 Camry makes a clean break from the more conservative, but quite honestly handsome mold that had defined it. While the latest edition of the Toyota sedan is certainly no fashion plate, it does take risks with its angular front fascia, vertically-inset driving lights, and racier profile. The red metallic hue and chrome multi-spoke 18-inch rims of the XSE model that I drove certainly enhance the Camry's new direction, as does the trim's black honeycomb grille.
Toyota wasn't content to merely re-sculpt the 2015 Camry's steel, as the passenger compartment has also received its share of attention. Most notable are the improvements that have been made to the switchgear on the center console, which now looks and feels sturdier than it did the year before. The XSE model's leather door and dash trim was also frequently commented on by passengers as adding an upscale feel to the car, which will no doubt be music to the ears of Toyota product planners tasked with upgrading a model so popular that it has become the automotive equivalent of wallpaper in certain parts of the country.
Comfort and Cargo
- The 2015 Toyota Camry hasn't grown inside compared to the previous model year.
Although it might be wearing new duds the 2015 Toyota Camry still shops at the same rack, as its cabin's basic dimensions haven't been touched. This is good news for fans of the sedan's roomy rear seat, since the Camry is still a class leader when it comes to second row comfort and space - a position of power doesn't quite extend all the way to the trunk, where a very average 15.4 cubic feet of space awaits your luggage.
As I mentioned earlier, the Camry XSE is outfitted with a suspension setup that has been tweaked for handling prowess rather than a soft ride, but you wouldn't know it from behind the wheel of the car. Over both bumps and smooth pavement the XSE edition of the Toyota felt at least as comfortable as last year's Camry, with no discernible roughness seeping through the car's chassis.
Features and Controls
- The 2015 Toyota Camry offers revised control surfaces across the board.
- The Entune audio system is now standard with every version of the car.
The infotainment revolution has colonized even the smallest and most affordable automobiles on the market, and in recognition of this seemingly inevitable march the 2015 Toyota Camry now offers its Entune touchscreen system as standard equipment with even the value-oriented LE trim. The base Entune comes with a 6.1-inch display, but the XSE model I drove was outfitted with a navigation system that boosted screen size to seven inches. Entune's graphics aren't all that impressive, but the system itself is easy to use and doesn't require you to learn how to manipulate a dial, touchpad, or imitation mouse, which is always a plus.
Toyota also elected to improve on the look and feel of the knobs, dials, and buttons that serve as the primary point of contact between the Camry's climate and audio system, and the effort is largely a success. There's no longer any quality gap in this area between the new sedan and any of its rivals, and the XSE's upgraded gauge cluster was nice enough to look at too, if not particularly sporty.
I happen to live in a part of the world where winter means more than putting on a sweater, and as such I had ample opportunity to test out the 2015 Toyota Camry's climate control system. As with the Toyota RAV4 I had driven recently, I was disappointed to discover that the Camry had difficulty keeping the windshield fog-free with the HVAC set to auto mode. The problem worsened when more than a single occupant was riding in the car, forcing me to keep the vehicle's front defroster on most of the time I was behind the wheel. I haven't had a similar problem with another manufacturer's heater so far this year.
Safety and Ratings
- The 2015 Toyota Camry adds a collision mitigation system that includes automatic braking.
The 2015 Toyota Camry comes with a pair of front knee airbags, dual forward airbags, side impact airbags at all four outboard positions, and a side curtain airbags to match, all as standard equipment. Electronic stability control and traction control are also included free of charge, but if you want to take advantage of any active safety gear such as a blind spot monitoring system, a lane departure warning system, or a forward collision warning and mitigation system you're going to have to pay more via the options sheet. What's more, this equipment can only be had on XSE and XLE versions of the Camry.
Crash Test Ratings: The NHTSA has awarded the Camry a four out of five star crash safety rating, while the IIHS scores the sedan as 'Good,' its highest possible praise, in each major type of crash test.
Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2015 Toyota Camry makes no changes to either of its available drivetrains compared to the previous model year.
The 2015 Toyota Camry, regardless of trim level, offers a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. This unit has been tuned to provide 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, and it turns in fuel mileage of 25-mpg in stop and go driving and 35-mpg on the highway - numbers that place it just below the mean in its class (I saw 20-mpg during my week of cold weather driving). The Camry's available 3.5-liter V-6 pushes out 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of twist while dropping efficiency figures to 21-mpg city and 31-mpg highway, giving it a more competitive fuel consumption profile, albeit in a segment where six-cylinder engines are fast disappearing. A six-speed automatic transmission is paired with both engines, as is front-wheel drive.
Most people who order the 2015 Toyota Camry in XSE trim are going to do so because they're seeking the appearance of a sport sedan without the potential ride quality penalty or higher sticker price associated with most go-fast gear. That's perfectly fine, because despite its pretensions towards improved handling the Camry XSE is a sheep in wolf's clothing. I couldn't discern any enhanced steering response or cornering capability in the car compared to previous versions of the sedan, but nor did I lament a crashing suspension over Montreal's snow-covered, yet still pothole-infested pavement. Even on the highway the Toyota felt composed rather than twitchy, indicating that the tuning of the XSE's shocks and springs is so mild that it's had no meaningful impact on the Camry's reputation for comfort (or its ability to engage the driver).
That's not to say that the 2015 Toyota Camry is a slug out on the road - far from it. The four-cylinder engine in my test vehicle was quite lively, with a smooth character that belied its small displacement. Toyota has done an excellent job in pairing the 2.5-liter motor to its six-speed automatic gearbox, which kicked down when necessary and slipped into Eco mode during periods of more staid cruising. While it's true that the Camry's four-banger isn't as adept at fuel sipping as the options provided by several of its competitors it's definitely less thirsty than the car's optional V-6, a motor whose extra grunt never feels necessary in the Toyota.
Other bonuses for the 2015 Camry include a stiffer chassis that has been treated to additional welds regardless of whether you order the XSE or SE models. There's also claims of a quieter interior, with certain versions of the sedan providing additional insulation (including an acoustically-treated windshield) to help reduce road noise. My week with the Camry coincided with a particularly brutal batch of snow squalls and freezing temperatures, a set of environmental circumstances that the car handled without much complaint aside from rather disconnected steering feel in the slush.
The 2015 Toyota Camry's edgier exterior styling and swankier interior wrap around a platform that brings more of the same conservative, comfortable, and competent motoring to the mid-size conversation. The Camry's a solid family sedan, if an unexciting one (even in XSE trim), and it's deserving of a test drive by anyone who wants to benefit from the brand's excellent reputation for reliability and resale value. That being said, there are so many outstanding options at the Toyota's price point (or even below it), that it only makes sense to make sure you also sample automobiles like the Subaru Legacy, the Honda Accord, the Mazda Mazda6, and the Ford Fusion before committing to Camry.
Pros and Cons
- Flashier styling
- Improved interior trappings
- Comfortable ride
- Spacious back seat
- Peppy four-cylinder engine
- Not engaging to drive, even in SE or XSE trim
- Not as tech-friendly as some of its rivals
- Four-cylinder fuel mileage lags behind the competition
- Climate control system has trouble fending off chilly weather
Toyota Canada supplied the vehicle for this review