- 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.
2015 Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry still isn't one of the head-turners in its class, but it's more handsome and better-detailed in just about every respect.
For 2015, the Camry is essentially the same size, yet it gets entirely new sheetmetal all around (only the roof is the same), and it adds up to a look that’s a little more graceful and handsome.
The headlights are a newer, ‘swept back’ design that, with clear lenses and nice detailing—upper trims get LED daytime running lamps—while the front end in general has a wide look, thanks to the car’s slightly wide track, and the more opened-up lower grille. Alongside, there’s a little more of a character line, and the side sheetmetal is more flowing—into an aerodynamic ‘kick’ into a new rear lamp design. Side mirrors have been redesigned as well, and moved a bit rearward. Between the rear lamps, there’s a new curved bar of brightwork, downturned and framing the taillights—yielding a ‘maximized’ taillight appearance, as Toyota puts it—and functionally, all models now include a rear backup camera that’s located in the license-plate area. A new lineup of wheels complements the revamped exterior.
About the only thing on the exterior that we find a bit strange about the new look is the glossy black area just behind the rear doors—as if designers were trying to visually extend the window line, but in a way that impresses as somewhat tacky up close.
Inside Toyota has introduced new upholsteries, with a new base fabric, a SofTex suede-like material, and leather and sport leather seat materials on offer. It’s also redone the instrument panel, streamlining the design of the center stack in particular and making the buttons and knobs larger; most models get a new 6.1-inch touch screen front and center, while V-6 models get upgraded to a seven-inch screen. Toyota has fitted a beveled surface to the center stack, fitted with bright trim and essentially making it look from some angles like it's standing farther outward from the rest of the dash than it actually is. And throughout the dash visible seams and stitching have been made a little more prominent—in texture and eye appeal.
2015 Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry is confident, albeit not particularly pulse-quickening—in nearly all respects; and keep in mind that V-6 models are definitely more delightful.
The 2015 Toyota Camry has changed significantly in several important ways that may affect performance, yet in some other core ways—the engine and transmission, for example—the Camry hasn’t changed one bit.
For the most part, that's just fine. The base 2.5-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, with Dual VVT-i variable valve timing, makes 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of peak torque, while the available 3.5-liter V-6 makes 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft. Both of these engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Neither of these engines includes direct injection (or turbocharging, of course), but the V-6 especially has great drivability, and more than enough power for any situation, even with a full load of passengers and luggage. As for the four-cylinder, it should be just fine for most drivers, and it's very smooth; but it's a little sluggish off the line, and often feels strained to pull off a leisurely pass or climb a gradual grade until the transmission delivers a downshift or two. It exposes the advantage of the more recently reengineered powertrains in many of the Camry's rivals, frankly. Luckily the transmission responds promptly and decisively—in a way that the CVTs in some rival models can't.
The Camry has received new spring and shock settings—with dual-valve dampers—that add up to a digressive tuning that allows tighter vehicle control and a more responsive feel at low speeds while helping filter out bumps and harshness at higher speeds and in cruising. On a smoothly surfaced but violently heaving country backroad in the softest-tuned XLE, we were especially impressed by the way this plush-riding sedan soaks up the worst of it yet rebounds in a controlled way—avoiding the wallowing and floating of soft-riding sedans of the past (and mimicking the clever suspension work Toyota did recently with the latest Avalon).
The electronic stability control was retuned as well to take advantage of these new settings—and to intervene a little less overtly than before—while the electric power steering was retuned.
Toyota also reworked the brakes; while they’re the same size as those in last year’s Camry, the 2015 model gets a new-design, two-stage master cylinder that finally does away with the long pedal travel and mushy, sudden engagement at low speeds. It’s much more confident-feeling, and we hope Toyota deploys this in all their vehicles.
The automaker boasts that with these suspension changes and the host of other sound-deadening measures introduced for 2015—including much more sound insulation at the floor—that the Camry's ride is significantly quieter, too. While wind noise was well controlled, even with some strong crosswinds, the roads we took on an initial drive were very smoothly surfaced, and without a current Camry to test, we can't really say how much this is improved. We'll update that with more impressions as soon as we can.
2015 Toyota Camry
Comfort & Quality
All versions of the 2015 Camry are spacious, smooth, and quiet, with a simple, straightforward layout and good seating comfort—and we think many will prefer the SE's upgraded seats.
Interior comfort and space was already one of the Camry's strengths with its last redesign. So when the automaker went to refresh its mid-size sedan for 2015, it's no surprise that the actual passenger space, and the fundamentals of its seating and cargo-space design, haven't at all changed.
What has changed are things that might just make the Camry a more pleasant place to spend long stretches of time in; you can't underestimate the psychological lift lent from those trim and materials upgrades, and having more soft-touch surfaces up close, that make the cabin feel like a more welcoming place.
From the front seats, the Camry feels more spacious than many of its competitors and their cockpit-influenced interiors. The dash is pushed forward and the corners outward, making the cabin feel more open and less cramped. Perception and reality sync in this case, where the interior's useful space is plenty, thanks to the contouring of the dash and doors. This year's center stack appears to have been beveled outward a bit more, with brightwork framing it, but it's mostly just an illusion brought on in combination with the larger knobs and buttons—there's still lots of space to breathe in front, compared to the designs in more confining, 'cockpit'-influenced rivals.
All trims of the 2015 Toyota Camry include split-folding rear seatbacks; although as we've noted in the past, you can't quite fully fold them flat; Toyota favored adult-size contouring and plenty of padding instead—a decision we actually applaud. And due to the less adventurous roof contouring, you actually get good headroom for adults in back; yes, this 6'-6” editor could sit, comfortably in the outboard positions of the back seat. Three adults may feel a little cramped back there, but that stems mostly from the lack of shoulder space.
Once again, you get somewhat more aggressively contoured sport seats in the SE (and XSE). While they don't offer much additional lateral support, we felt more snug in them (they seem to provide more thigh support), with contouring that's less flat than the base seats and might prove less fatiguing.
Toyota has redone the trunk hinges for 2015 in order to provide a somewhat wider trunk opening (you lose perfect water drainage in the process, but gain previous space that might come in handy on a run for weekend project materials). There's plenty of space for large suitcases or a big family's grocery run. And as before, the Camry Hybrid no longer sacrifices rear seating comfort or much cargo room; you do give up a little trunk space, but unless you compare it against the non-hybrid models you might hardly know the difference.
The only thing missing from the Camry's interior, we think, is that it could use more smaller cubbies. The center console is hinged, but while most mid-size sedans offer a partition or a smaller upper tray, this is just one large bin.
What we liked about the current Camry—the somewhat utilitarian design, with chunky multi-function controllers on either side of the steering wheel, positioned right where your thumbs can be—has gotten even better with the 2015 refresh. Bigger buttons help with driver comfort, as do the nice, intuitive touch-screen systems.
2015 Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry has expanded active-safety features, as well as some structural improvements that should add up to even better safety ratings.
The 2015 Toyota Camry has earned crash-test safety ratings that are very good—but just short of the top tier.
With its last full redesign three years ago, the Camry got a body structure that was promoted as stronger and lighter—only that Camry performed to a worrisome ‘poor’ rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap frontal test. That result improved to a second-best ‘acceptable’ rating.
Toyota anticipated top ratings from both U.S. safety agencies with the body structure improvements given to the 2015 Camry—including 22 additional spot welds to the cowl area that improve torsional rigidity. And while the 2015 Camry has earned Top Safety Pick+ status in IIHS testing, it's missed top federal ratings. Although it gets a five-star overall rating, its four-star frontal results (as well as four-star side pole results, which aren't factored into its five-star side score) add up to a vehicle that's not quite in the same echelon as the Honda Accord or Subaru Legacy.
All Camry models include ten airbags, with front passenger knee bags and rear side airbags for outboard occupants, as well as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, and a Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.
Safety options now offered on the Camry lineup include a Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, a Pre-Collision System, and Lane Departure Alert with Auto High Beam. Toyota has improved the performance of these systems and says that we can expect the IIHS ‘Advanced’ rating for accident prevention.
2015 Toyota Camry
A new Toyota Camry XSE model adds to the lineup for 2015, pairing the sporty look and driving manners of the SE with the luxurious feature set of the XLE.
The new Camry comes in four different trim levels: LE, 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.
The 2015 Camry LE includes a power driver's seat, heated side mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, and intermittent wipers, as well as air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power windows and locks, keyless entry, and a backup camera.
SE models add to the LE equipment with a sport suspension, projector-beam headlamps, black trim bezels, a color-keyed rear spoiler, SofTex upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, brighter Optitron gauges, a chrome-tipped exhaust, smoked-chrome upper-grille and rear garnish trim, and a sport mesh front grille—as well as 17-inch graphite-finish alloys. The new XSE model ramps up the luxury inside without softening the sportiness; you get LED low and high-beam headlights, sport Ultrasuede seats, dual-zone climate control, LED running lamps, and 18-inch machined alloy wheels—and on XSE V-6 models, a power moonroof, vanity mirrors, reading lights, an acoustic windshield, a universal garage-door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and dual chrome-tipped exhaust outlets.
Top XLE models retain a feature list that some might say belongs to a luxury car, as they add a Smart Key system with push-button start, leather seats with a power passenger seat, and power lumbar support, plus 17-inch Super Chrome alloys.
XSE V-6 and XLE models also add Qi wireless charging pad capability, which lets you charge certain smartphones (with an adapter/sleeve) without plugging into a cable.
Equipment for 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid models roughly parallels that of four-cylinder Camrys of the same trim level—although the Hybrid is only offered in LE, SE, and XLE.
Infotainment systems have been fully upgraded. 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. XSE and XLE models, with the four-cylinder engine, get an Entune Audio Plus system that brings Sirius satellite radio, HD radio, and HD traffic and weather services, while XSE and XLE models with the V-6 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.
2015 Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid models are extremely frugal fuel-sippers—and the V-6 Camry does better in real-world driving than you might expect.
Mid-size sedans seem to be edging upward into the fuel-efficiency territory that was the domain of compact cars just a few years ago. And while the Camry Hybrid should continue to beat the EPA Combined figures of nearly every other mileage-minded sedan—except for the Honda Accord Hybrid—the rest of the Camry lineup isn't particularly class-leading.
Last year brought a number of changes to the other four-cylinder and V-6 models (lighter weight, earlier torque-converter lockup) aimed at mileage improvements, and ratings went up to 25/35 mpg for four-cylinder models and 21/30 mpg for the V-6. This year, the Camry holds the line on those figures for four-cylinder models, while those with the V-6 eke out one more mpg on the highway—to 21 mpg city, 31 highway.
The Hybrid will remain the leader in the lineup with its astounding 43 mpg city, 39 highway—although final EPA ratings aren't yet out at the time of writing for that one.