2015 Toyota Camry: First Drive

September 21, 2014

“Can't the Camry look a little more exciting?”

To paraphrase chief engineer Monte Kaehr, that was a message so commonly heard in focus groups with owners of current 2012- and 2013-model-year Camrys—when they were asked what single thing they’d like to change about their cars—that it rose far above other wishes.

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It wasn't anything that had to do with how the car rode or drove, and it's a warning bell for a model that's come to symbolize design androgyny. Even the Camry was too plain.

And really, it’s no surprise. When the current Camry emerged in 2011, as a 2012 model, it impressed as competent in every way, yet so conservatively redone that some might mistake it for its predecessor on the outside if they weren’t side by side. Meanwhile, with radical remakes of the Hyundai Sonata for the 2011 model year and the Ford Fusion for the 2013 model year—followed by evolutionary but significant redesigns of the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima that same model year—the Camry ended up looking a little...neglected.

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Not just a quickie refresh

Because of that, Toyota looked at doing a more aggressive mid-cycle refresh than customary—within a company that's used to lock-step product cadences. Beyond just the usual headlights-and-taillamps, new-gauge-faces, new-wheels quickie refresh that mainstream cars often get halfway through their five or six year life cycles, the 2015 Camry has some serious toning and body sculpting—with entirely new sheetmetal that we dare say has picked up a trick or two from the Corolla. All but the roof has been redone, Toyota boasts.

Its mid-size mainstay has hardly been transformed (to use a word that’s overused to the point of meaninglessness in product presentations), and it's hardly bold (another one that we're desensitized to) but it does feel like the Camry has a new kind of flair that works well inside and out. It still looks like a Camry, just one that has a little more pizzazz, probably in a way that the current generation probably should have all along.

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