2015 Toyota Camry

By December 13, 2014

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a treasured piece of American folk wisdom that makes all kinds of sense in terms of home maintenance. And no sense at all in terms of the automotive industry. While a vehicle may be satisfactory in every sense, that’s not enough; it has to look new. In an industry where the pace of change is dizzying, no carmaker can afford to rest on its laurels, particularly when it comes to styling.

The 2015 Toyota Camry is an excellent case in point. Camry has been the bestselling car in America for 12 years straight, and at this writing is on pace to make it 13 in a row. Nevertheless, only three years after its most recent major redesign, Toyota has made an extensive overhaul of its bestseller for the 2015 model year.

Toyota isn’t saying all-new here, and that’s appropriate: aside from a slightly wider track, the chassis is basically unchanged, and the three engine options, 178-hp four-cylinder (standard), 265-hp 3.5-liter V6, and four-cylinder hybrid, all carry over. That’s also true of the 6-speed automatic transmission.

However, not much of the previous Camry exists above the integrated frame rails. With the exception of the roof, every exterior panel on the 2015 Camry is new, overall length has increased 1.8 inches (to 190.9), and everything inside the cabin has been redesigned and refurbished. Toyota claims that the update to the 2015 Camry entails more than 2000 new parts, a staggering total that has to include a whole bunch of fasteners, clips, bolts, and screws.

Still, while it’s considered to be a member of the seventh generation, there’s no mistaking the 2015 Camry for the 2014 Camry.

So why would Toyota mess with success? After all, the Camry has succeeded for 32 years on a foundation of Toyota’s long-established virtues: durability, reliability, value, and strong resale. But the company’s product planners and market research troops have finally come to grips with a criticism leveled by automotive magazines for years: the Camry may be solid goods, but it’s been the personification of bland, an impression that’s been reinforced by cautious styling.

The word caution does not apply to the exterior of 2015 Camry. In fact, in some trim levels (the 2015 Camry ES and 2015 Camry ESC), one might even employ the word bold. Intended as the sportier versions of the Camry, those two get an aggressive new fascia reminiscent of the Lexus spindle grille, but arguably better looking. The 2015 Camry LE and 2015 Camry XLE have a new three-bar grille. All versions of the 2015 Toyota Camry sport new LED running lights plus strong character creases on the side panels.

Camrys have never been head-turners before, but the 2015 Camry rates a second glance.

The overhaul extends inside, where every surface has been refurbished, a redesign that includes some very fancy stitchery on supple leather-clad seats in high trim levels.

In addition to adding some visual moxie to the Camry’s persona, Toyota hopes to elevate perceptions of its fun-to-drive factor. To that end, there have been some subtle tweaks to the suspension tuning of the sportier versions and selective chassis stiffening. Toyota has also expanded the sporty model range from one, Camry XS, to two, adding the fancier Camry XSE. However, this wasn’t motivated so much by the goal of raising the Camry’s sporty personal as it was increasing sales. Toyota found that the XS accounted for 40 percent of Camry sales, and that the composition of that 40 percent was much younger than the more traditional models.

While the styling definitely gives the 2015 Camry a much stronger curbside presence, the adjustments in the driver gratification department are harder to perceive. Handling distinctions between the sportier models and the mainstream versions are subtle, and the same applies to differences between this mid-generation update and its predecessor. But for many, the bolder styling, plus traditional Camry strengths, will be more than enough to keep this solid sedan at the top of the charts.

Model Lineup

The 2015 Toyota Camry comes in a broad range of trim levels with a choice of powertrains. The basic L version has been discontinued for 2015. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) Camry comes standard with a 178-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Camry XLE V6 and XSE V6 models are equipped with a 268-hp V6 engine. Camry Hybrid models utilize a hybrid gas-electric powertrain.

Camry LE ($22,970) comes with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, analog tachometer and speedometer, 3.5-inch black-and-white info display between tach and speedo, tilt/telescope steering column, power up-down front windows, heated side mirrors, Entune AM/FM/CD audio, USB port, 6.1-inch touch-screen secondary controls with voice command, Bluetooth streaming, 12-volt power outlet, halogen headlamps, chrome grille, rear view camera, 16-inch steel wheels. Camry SE ($23,840) upgrades with Softex upholstery, digital instrumentation, 4.2-inch TFT color info display between tachometer and speedometer, tire pressure monitor, black mesh grille, slightly firmer suspension tuning, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

15-camry-hybridCamry XLE ($26,150) upgrades further with leather trim seats, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, Entune Audio Plus multimedia, LED daytime running lamps, chrome grille, 17-inch chrome alloy wheels. Camry XSE ($26,150) comes with leather-trim sport front seats with ultrasuede inserts, black mesh grille model, firmer suspension tuning, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Camry XLE V6 and Camry XSE V6 ($31,370) add Entune Premium Audio with 10 speakers, 586-watt JBL; navigation; 7.0-inch touch-screen center display; LED headlamps; power moonroof; wireless charging for mobile devices.

Camry Hybrid LE ($26,790), Camry Hybrid SE ($27,995) and Camry Hybrid XLE ($29,980) trim levels are equipped similarly to their gas-powered counterparts.


15-camry-rearFreed from their decades of short leash constraints, Toyota’s stylists have given the Camry something it’s lacked in previous generations: eye-catching character. There are subtle creases in the hood, two new grilles (visually defining the L and S versions), strong character molding in the side panels, and LED daytime running lights that lend splashes of bright to the lower corners of the front end.

As noted, almost all the exterior panels are new; only the roof carries over from the 2014 model. New wheel styles, including 18-inch alloys on the sporty XSE. New colors.

Although the wheelbase and sub-structure are unchanged, the new body is a little longer, and the slightly wider track gives the Camry a more athletic look, particularly in the XS and XSE editions, with their snarky mesh grilles.

It’s also worth noting that the Toyota has added the sporty XS trim level to the Camry Hybrid, which is also offered in LE and XLE versions.

Interior Features

15-camry-seatsPretty much everything inside the 2015 Camry is new. There’s hardly a trace of hard plastic anywhere, most surfaces are covered with soft-touch material, upholstery has been upgraded across the board, and the supple leather that adorns the seats in the up-level XSE and XLE trims is set off by handsome stitching with French seams. The Camry Hybrid SE comes with fabric upholstery with an interesting Louis Vuitton-like checkerboard pattern that is very attractive.

The engineering that went into the new body shell included additional spot welds around the door openings and the cowl, resulting in improved chassis rigidity, according to Toyota, although the development team refrains from quantifying the increase. However, while the stiffening is impossible to verify via the driver’s seat-of-pants impressions, it does contribute to improved operating serenity. The revision also included more sound-insulation, and it adds up to a Camry that’s as quiet as many high-end luxury sedans.

The redesigned instrument panel includes a new thin film transistor (TFT) information display nestled between the tachometer and speedometer, 3.5 inches and black and white in the basic LE, 4.2 inches and full color in higher trim levels. LE dashboards have a 6.1-inch center dash touch 15-camry-dashscreen display, while uplevel models get a 7.0-inch screen. Toyota’s Entune multimedia system brings the Camry up to date in terms of infotainment with voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming, and a laundry list of apps to satisfy the growing hunger for those all-important connectivity features. There’s also a list of audio options culminating in a 586-watt JBL sound system, and a new center console system that allows wireless recharging of mobile devices such as smartphones.

Driving Impressions

15-camry-driving-xseCamry’s dynamic strengths have always been creamy ride quality, smooth powertrains, and quiet operation, and this update doubles down on those virtues, particularly in the area of interior noise levels. The cabin is Lexus quiet at all speeds, and the suspension erases small road irregularities. We should note that these impressions were made on generally smooth highways on the big island of Hawaii, but based on past experience we anticipate that the Camry ride quality will measure up with the best even on frost-tortured pavements.

On the other hand, the idea that the Camry XS and XSE are actually sporty and entertaining to drive qualifies as wishful thinking. The only difference that might show up on a formal track test is a little more grip from the XSE’s 18-inch wheel-tire package, an advantage that’s intangible to the driver. Aside from that, the tradeoff for pleasant ride quality is deliberate responses in rapid maneuvers, compounded by electric power steering that conveys very little tactile information to the driver.

Similarly, the carryover powertrains do little to advance the fun-to-drive agenda. The V6 in our primary test subject, the XSE, delivers decent power, and the 6-speed automatic is as smooth as anything in its class in full auto mode.

The 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 has port fuel injection and is rated at 268 horsepower at 6200 rpm, 248 pound-feet of torque at 4700 rpm. The V6 is EPA-rated at 21/31 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined.

But acceleration with the standard four-cylinder is tepid, and passing exposure time can be uncomfortably long. The absence of a manual transmission with the four-cylinder is regrettable here, not only in terms of extracting the most from the engine, but also to add a little more credibility to the Camry’s sporty image ambitions.

The 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve inline four-cylinder that comes standard in Camry benefits from port fuel injection to generate 178 horsepower at 6000 rpm, 170 pound-feet of torque at 4100 rpm. It’s EPA-rated at 25/35 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined.

15-camry-driving-hybridA weeklong drive in a Camry Hybrid SE in northern New Jersey showed a smooth ride and responsive powertrain. Toyota is a leader in hybrid gas-electric technology and it shows in this latest version. Acceleration performance was smooth whether in all-electric mode or using the gasoline engine. The brakes, which generate electricity whenever used, were the smoothest we have experienced in a hybrid. The brakes made a small noise whenever the pedal was pushed hard, most noticeable when the car was at rest.

Camry Hybrid models combine a 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with port fuel injection with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor. The engine is rated at 156 hp at 5700 rpm, 156 pound-feet of torque 4500 rpm, while the motor is rated at 141 hp at 4500 rpm, 199 pound-feet of torque from 0 to 1500 rpm; combined output is rated at 200 horsepower. Hybrid models use a continuously variable transmission. Camry Hybrid SE and XLE are rated at 40/38 mpg or 40 mpg Combined; Camry Hybrid LE does better around town with an EPA-estimated 43/39 mpg City/Highway, and a Combined rating of 41 mpg.

Summary, Prices, Specs

15-camry-final-xseToyota’s cosmetic overhaul of the 2015 Camry brought a welcome change from the slab-sided anonymity of yesteryear, and the interior appointments are spiffy, even in the standard LE trim level. Camry XS and XSE now look sporty, but dynamic distinctions between the mainstream and sporty versions are so subtle as to be indistinguishable to the average driver. Nevertheless, the combination of traditional strengths, with the addition of exterior eye candy, plus a good value proposition and strong resale, add up to a more desirable Camry. The Camry continues to be very good in most dynamic assessments: competent, quiet, and comfortable. But if athletic responses are a top priority, some of the other midsize sedans may be worth a look, notably the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord.

Tony Swan filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drives of Camry models on the big island of Hawaii. Mitch McCullough contributed after his test drive of a Camry hybrid in New Jersey.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Camry LE ($22,970); SE ($23,840); XLE ($26,150); XSE ($26,150); XSE V6 ($31,370); XLE V6 ($31,370); LE Hybrid ($26,790); SE Hybrid ($27,995); XLE Hybrid ($29,980)
Engines:178-hp 2.5-liter inline-4; 268-hp 3.5-liter V6; 200-hp hybrid gas-electric
Transmissions:6-speed automatic with manual shift mode; continuously variable transmission
Safety equipment (standard):antilock braking, stability control; traction control; electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, dual stage front airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, Safety Connect telematics (one-year trial, includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance SOS call button, roadside assistance); rear view camera
Safety equipment (optional):adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, pre-collision system
Basic warranty:3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in:Georgetown, Kentucky
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Toyota Camry XSE V6 ($31,370)
Standard equipment:leather-trim sports seats with suede inserts; power adjustable heated front seats; climate control; tilt/telescope steering column; Entune Premium audio (10 speakers, 586-watt JBL); navigation system; voice command; rear view camera; 4.2-inch color TFT info display between speedometer and tachometer; 7.0-inch color touch-screen center dash display; Bluetooth streaming; USB port; 12-volt power outlet; power moonroof; mobile device wireless charging; 18-inch alloy wheels, black mesh grille, LED headlights
Options as tested (MSPR):none
Destination charge:$825
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$32,195
Layout:front-wheel drive
Engine:3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):268 @ 6200
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):248 @ 4700
Transmission:6-speed automatic with manual shift mode
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:21/31 mpg
Wheelbase:109.3 in.
Length/width/height:190.9/71.7/57.9 in.
Track, f/r:62.4/62.0 in.
Turning circle:36.7 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:38.8/54.5/41.6 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:38.1/54.5/38.9 in.
Cargo volume:15.4 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:N/A
Suspension, f:Macpherson struts, coil springs, antiroll bar
Suspension, r:multilink, coil springs, solid antiroll bar
Ground clearance:6.1 in.
Curb weigth:3480 lbs.
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity:17.0 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of December 13, 2014.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-468-6968 - www.toyota.com

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