2015 Toyota Camry
The 2015 Toyota Camry looks and drives better
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America for more than a decade--and one of the dullest. Just ask anyone who doesn't know or care about cars what they drive, and a good percentage will say "Toyota Camry."
And why not? The front-wheel-drive Camry has been tailored for the American market--a no-fuss, safe, reliable sedan that doesn't cost much to run. Just turn the key and go. Isn't that what cars are all about?
No wonder many Camrys are ordered with the standard four-cylinder engine, not the more powerful V-6.
"Who needs a V-6?" asks the typical Camry buyer, who probably has never even sat in a sports car, or any exciting car, for that matter, let alone driven one. No interest there.
But those who know better will tell you that driving to a destination can be some fun. And you know what? Toyota chief Akio Toyoda (no "t" in the name) agrees with you. He thinks that driving a car should be far more exciting than taking a bus and is out to make Camrys sexier.
And thus we have the considerably changed 2015 Toyota Camry. For one thing, all its sheet metal, except for the roof, is new. We finally have a sleek looking Camry. It's a little longer, has a slightly wider track and better road manners. However, the styling gives it a low front end that can be damaged by high curbs and such.
The quieter interior, packed with more sound-absorbing materials, also has been redone. Controls are easier to use, including those for the driver's power window switches, and there are higher-grade materials.
Making the new Camry more enjoyable is a more rigid structure, which allows Toyota to revise spring and shock absorber rates, with different tuning for each model--from basic to sportier.
There are a variety of Camry models, starting with the base LE. Then you have the SE, XLE, XSE, XSE V-6 and XLE V-6. The non-V-6 models have a carryover 2.5-liter four-cylinder, while the V-6 models have a 3.5-liter engine with 268 horsepower.
Toyota is after younger buyers and thus there is a new XSE sporty model, with firmer springs and shock absorbers, harder bushings, larger wheels and sharper electric power steering. Toyota also competes with a Camry in NASCAR racing and offers Toyota Racing Development (TRD) editions of some models. A Camry TRD could be introduced by year's end.
On the fuel-economy front, the Camry LE is offered as a fuel-stingy gas/electric hybrid. It delivers an estimated 43 miles per gallon on highways and 39 in the city. The four-cylinder models provide an estimated 25 city, 35 highway, while the V-6 delivers 21 and 31. The V-6 in my test Camry loafed at 1,800 r.p.m. at 70 m.p.h.
List prices for the new Camry range from $22,970 to $31,370.
I tested the $31,370 XLE V-6. Its engine is hooked to a smooth, responsive six-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted.
All doors, which had large handles, opened widely, and the interior was roomy with a decent number of storage areas. However, the stiff center of the backseat didn't provide much comfort. It's best to pull down the large, soft center rear armrest, which contains twin cupholders.
My test XLE V-6 had a good amount of comfort, convenience and safety equipment. The interior had leather trimmed and heated supportive front power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium audio and navigation systems, backup camera and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats. There also was a power tilt/slide sunroof.
Gauges could be quickly read, and there was a 7-inch power touch-screen display that was easy to use. The large heated outside power mirrors could be folded back against side-window glass to prevent parking-area damage, and rear windows rolled all the way down.
Assisting handling were stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes and "smart stop" technology.
Safety equipment included ten air bags.
My test Camry had desirable options, including a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision system, lane departure alert and dynamic radar cruise control. Other extras included hands-free phone capability, voice recognition and so on.
The cost of the options added up, fattening the bottom-line list price to $35,649, including an $825 delivery fee. Of course, some will feel that a number of the car's options aren't necessary, such as the $299 rear spoiler.
While not a sports sedan, the XLE V-6 handled decreasing radius curves gracefully and could skillfully make quick moves. The steering was precise and nicely weighted. The ride was smooth, and braking inspired confidence with its electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and Smart Stop technology.
The roomy trunk has a wide but somewhat high opening. Curiously, I couldn't find any trunk lid interior pull-down feature such as a handle or strap to help close it.
The hood glides open on twin struts, revealing a conveniently located oil dispstick. It's put immediately at the front of the engine compartment to check the level of the oil--generally the most commonly checked engine fluid by car owners.
Drivers of the 2015 Camry can use it the same way they did the older models--commuting to work, shopping trips, etc. But this time around, the new version will surprise them with its newfound driving zest.