In the past 30 years the Toyota Camry has never really been associated with the words "style" or "exciting," well maybe with the exception of the Lexus-esque 1992-1996 Camry. Toyota is trying to change that with this new more "emotional" and "stylish" 2015 Camry, but does it succeed?
After only three years on the market, Toyota decided to give the Camry an extensive refresh that involved changing some 2,000 parts out of the 6,000 or so parts that make up the Camry. Toyota basically stripped off everything that you see on the outside, with the exception of the roof to give the Camry a bolder exterior that it hopes will get some of the attention that more stylish models, like the Ford Fusion and Mazda6 attract.
When the current generation Camry debuted at the end of 2011, its styling wasn't unattractive, but it was rather blah and somewhat what we were used to from Toyota. It wasn't until the 2013 Avalon debuted that we were able to see that Toyota could create a stylish sedan and since the 2013 Avalon's arrival Toyota has tried to inject a bit more emotion into its models. Even the newest Corolla has a bit more style than the one before it.
The 2015 Camry looks much better than before and its wider stance gives it a sportier look. From the front its large grille is similar to the Avalon and its swept back headlights give way to a more sculpted Camry. As you move back, a new character line adds a bit more style to the Camry's profile and new larger taillights look similar to the Corolla's. The only design detail that looks a bit out of place is the C-pillar black garnish that looks like a third window, but isn't.
For buyers that are seeking the most style possible with a Camry badge, Toyota has created the new XSE model that adds blacked out design details, which is mainly noticeable with the large blacked out grille. It also rides on unique 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside the changes aren't as drastic as the exterior, but almost every surface as been changed. The dash now features larger buttons and knobs, while a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen is a nice touch. Overall the interior's more soft touch materials and upgraded fabrics give it a more upscale feel. The XSE model's leather and faux suede seats are also a welcome upgrade.
Toyota has also updated the Camry's technology with a 7-inch touchscreen on V6 models and the high definition info screen that is located between the gauges. There's also a wireless charging system for your cell phone and of course the Camry is available with the latest safety technology, like a Blind Spot monitor, automatic high beams and pre-collision system.
Under the skin there are less dramatic changes with the biggest changes being more spot welds and a retuned suspension. The powertrains also carry over unchanged, which means the Camry is available with a 178-hp 2.5L four-cylinder, 268-hp 3.5L V6 or a 2.5L hybrid system. The four-cylinder and V6 are mated to a six-speed automatic, while the hybrid gets a CVT. EPA numbers are also identical with the four-cylinder rated at 25/35 mpg and the V6 at 21/31 mpg. The hybrid gets up to 43/39 mpg.
How does it drive? The more emotional 2015 Camry may look more stylish and exciting on the outside, but on the road it still drives pretty much the same as before, but with a bit more brake feel and a quieter interior. Again if you want the most exciting version, you'll need to check the XSE box. The XSE V6 is the sportiest of the bunch with its heavier steering and less floaty suspension. On some of the more windy roads in Hawaii, the XSE V6 was surprisingly fun, especially compared to the less exciting four-cylinder and hybrid models.
At the end of the day the 2015 Camry isn't really a game changer in the midsize sedan segment, but instead gives buyers what they've been wanting - a more stylish Camry. Camry fans are sure to continue to love it and it may even attract a few more buyers that would otherwise buy an Accord or Fusion. For the last 12 years the Camry has held the top sales spot in the U.S. and it's likely to continue to hold onto that title with this significantly refreshed Camry.
Pros: Sportier XSE model, upgraded interior, more stylish exterior
Cons: Powertrains not updated, still not too exciting to drive
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