- High-mileage Hybrid model
- Lag-free infotainment systems
- Great ride, refined cabin
- V-6 makes it responsive, confident
- Sporty XSE tops the lineup on a sportier note
- Rear seats don’t fully fold
- Base four lags rivals in performance
- LE interior trims still a little bleak
The 2015 Toyota Camry ups its game with a thorough refresh that, while not daring, makes it more enjoyable for driver and passenger alike.
Only three years after its debut, the Toyota Camry gets a surprisingly extensive refresh for 2015. The reason? With recently refreshed versions of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, and others, competition is strong.
And with that kind of healthy market rivalry, Toyota is in effect not resting on its laurels; it’s given what it calls a sweeping redesign to the Camry for 2015—with a completely new look for the interior and exterior, added noise insulation, and upgraded driving dynamics.
While the change in appearance isn’t radically different, it looks updated, more refined, and more contemporary inside and out. And the most significant change are under the skin. The Camry gets what Toyota calls an aggressive front-end appearance, with LED front running lamps plus available LED auto-leveling lamps for the low and high beams. Taillights get a new design that tapers in with the side sheetmetal, and a ‘decorative garnish’—read chrome bar—runs across the trunk. Toyota calls that cue sporty, although it’s a generic cliche.
The somewhat downmarket look and more ‘chunky’ feel of the outgoing Camry’s dash have been wiped away, with a ‘high-tech’ look for the center stack and a newfound attention to materials and details. Upper dash areas now have soft-touch trims, and the area just ahead of the shift knob gets an enclosed bin for personal electronics, with a USB port and available wireless charging pad (as in the larger Avalon).
In all, it's not quite all-new, but as much so as mid-cycle updates ever get. The 2015 Camry has nearly 2,000 new parts (out of more than 6,000 total, for those who want to contextualize) compared to the 2014 model. Toyota says that everything is new except the roof. Toyota claims to have made some significant changes to improve the Camry’s responsiveness. While the existing MacPherson strut, multi-link rear suspension layout does carry over into the 2015 Camry, a new calibration for the electric power steering and a retuned brake-booster system make the Camry a better-driving car. So should a stiffer body structure and additional spot welds; in the cushy Camry XLE especially, it all adds up to a more sophisticated experience, much like what the Avalon received a couple of years ago; while in the sporty SE and XSE the stiffer body helps make more of it. As well, Toyota has added noise insulation at the floor, improved window and door seals, and redesigned the side mirrors for better airflow.
What’s under the hood carries over, mostly. The 2015 Camry will remain powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or 3.5-liter V-6—both hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission—or in the Hybrid model, a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and Hybrid Synergy Drive system. New to the lineup this year is a new sporty SE version of the Camry Hybrid. Overall, we'd say that the Camry V-6 and Hybrid stand out as enjoyable, engaging cars, considering all the rest of the improvements this model's been given, although the base 178-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine feels lackluster among present-day rivals, as it lacks direct injection or turbocharging—as well as the more accessible low rpm torque of those newer, higher-tech powertrains.
Toyota has further retuned the stability control system in SE models to intervene in a smoother way. And based on the success of the sporty SE model, a new XSE model has been added to the lineup and is the sportiest Camry yet, according to Toyota. With 18-inch wheels, unique shocks, firmer suspension bushings, and stiffer springs—as well. Both of these more performance-oriented Camry models get a mesh front grille and different front fascia.
The 2015 Camry is offering more active-safety features than before, including Lane Departure Alert, a Pre-Collision System with Auto High Beams, and a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Adaptive Cruise Control is also on offer.
The new Camry comes in four different trim levels: L, SE, XLE, and XSE. These trims essentially consolidate the Camry’s equipment to a conventional lineup (LE and XLE) and a sporty lineup (SE and XSE). And with some thorough infotainment updates this year, the Camry's feature set is completely at pace with that of its rivals.
Infotainment systems are perhaps the heart of it, as they've been fully upgraded. And they work, without the now almost expected lag and latency, and with intuitive menus. Even at the Camry LE level, you get an Entune touch-screen audio and infotainment system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input, USB port, voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, and six speakers. Top models get an Entune Premium Audio system with audio playback capability, HD predictive traffic, doppler map overlay, and the Entune App Suite, which lets you run Bing search, Pandora, Yelp, and others on the touch screen, using your smartphone's connection.