2015 Toyota Camry First Review: Redesigned for Relevance
The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in the country for more than a decade, attracting buyers with its renowned reliability, excellent resale value and comfortable, easy driving manners.
But when you exclude fleet sales -- vehicles purchased by rental car agencies, for instance -- the Camry plays second fiddle to the Honda Accord as America's favorite car. Camry's longtime rival offers a similar reputation for quality, but the Accord is widely regarded as more stylish inside and out, and a bit more engaging from behind the wheel.
Even Camry buyers have expressed an affinity for more personality, with almost half opting for the sportier-themed Camry SE. So even though plain-Jane styling and everyday driving dynamics have served the Camry very well over the years, Toyota's decision to unleash a more stylish, more responsive Camry for 2015 was actually a pretty safe bet. We spent a couple days behind the wheel of Toyota's revamped midsize sedan and came away impressed by the changes.
Stylish New Sheetmetal
The most obvious difference between the 2015 Toyota Camry and its predecessor is the exterior styling, every bit of which is new except the roof. The redesigned Camry isn't gorgeous like the Mazda6 or as boldly styled as the Ford Fusion, it's just a nicely detailed design -- punctuated by an eye-catching front end -- that promises to attract new buyers without scaring away longtime Camry devotees.
The look also promises to stand the test of time better than some of the segment's more novel styles, which tend to age faster. For buyers who do want a little extra edge, the Camry SE and new XSE offer slightly more aggressive cues.
The inside of the 2015 Toyota Camry isn't as new as the outside, but nicer materials, new technologies and a variety of design upgrades give the new Camry a markedly fresher feel. Gone, for instance, is the outmoded LED clock module that sat front-and-center at the top of the center stack in the outgoing model.
The redesigned Camry is also the first midsize sedan to offer available wireless charging for cell phones. Just toss your compatible phone in the bin ahead of the transmission selector and it charges on the go. Most phones require a special case to take advantage of the feature, but the case on the iPhone 5S supplied by Toyota for testing purposes added little bulk. In combination with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, you can charge your phone and utilize Toyota's Entune App Suite without ever having to plug in.
More Responsive on the Road
Camry faithful have no fear: The rethought Camry still qualifies as one of the most comfortable, easy-to-drive midsize sedans you can buy.
But it's also a little livelier now, thanks in large part to revised steering, braking and suspension tuning. The changes haven't shaken up the segment's fun-to-drive rankings, but the 2015 Camry definitely offers a more direct, more satisfying connection between car and driver. In a good way, driving a Camry is now more like driving many of its contemporaries.
Our first hands-on experience with the 2015 Camry included time in a 4-cylinder Camry SE -- the most popular trim level -- as well as 6-cylinder XLE and new premium-sport XSE models. The 178-horsepower 4-cylinder engine remains the right choice for most buyers, but the smooth 268-horsepower V6 does have its appeal (and its combined fuel economy figure is just 3 mpg shy of the 4-cylinder's).
Given the popularity of the sportier SE trim, the addition of a new, better-equipped XSE makes great sense. But the XSE's more stylish 18-inch wheels force a bigger compromise in ride quality than many Camry buyers might be willing to make.
Toyota says increased insulation helps make these the quietest Camrys ever, a claim we found easy to believe while on the road.
What Isn't New?
Worth noting is that this isn't an all-new Camry, just an uncommonly comprehensive refresh midway through its typical life cycle. The 2015 Camry is based on the same underlying architecture as the 2012-2014 models, with the same engines and same interior volume, for instance.
The 2015 Toyota Camry has a starting sticker price just under $24,000 and tops out closer to $35,000 for a fully loaded XLE V6 model. While those prices are essentially on par with the outgoing 2014 Camry, buyers should expect fewer/smaller incentives on the more attractive, more competitive 2015 model. Those higher purchase prices, however, will likely be mitigated by higher resale values.
If you're ready to run the numbers, you can build and price your own 2015 Toyota Camry to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more.
In a Sentence
Already a perennial sales champion, the Toyota Camry just became an easier choice for more midsize sedan shoppers.
More Midsize Sedans
The Toyota Camry is one of four all-new or significantly refreshed midsize sedans debuting for 2015, all of which are highlighted in our Midsize Sedan Buyer's Guide. Even before the redesign, the Camry held its own in our most recent midsize sedan comparison test.
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