2015 Toyota Camry XLE SedanPosted on May 7th, 2015
Bold styling takes Toyota’s bestseller in a new direction
By Nina Russin
Shibui is a Japanese term that means tranquility derived from simplicity: an economy of form. For years, Toyota’s cars have embodied this quality and it’s worked well for the brand.
But in the post-2008 economy, Toyota’s marketing strategy was losing its edge or rather it was losing because of styling that lacked edginess. Subtlety might be the greater part of valor but when it comes to selling cars in America, it’s not an asset.
The 2014 Toyota Camry was a great car: well built, safe and dependable. But its conservative exterior paled aside competitors such as the Kia Optima, Mazda6 and Hyundai Sonata. So product planners decided to address the problem by completely restyling the car inside and out.
This was not a simple refresh. The redesigned 2015 Toyota Camry has 2000 new parts. Only the roof remains the same as the outgoing model. The major redesign enabled engineers to stiffen up the body with new spot welds and increased use of high tensile strength steel to give the sedan better steering feedback.
A new XSE model features bigger wheels and a blacked out grille with unique front fascia. The XSE combines attributes of the performance-oriented SE with the upscale XLE for drivers who want a little more luxury.
Pricing for the XLE test car starts at $26,150 equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine: the smaller of two available blocks. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Large overdrive gears boost highway fuel economy to 35 miles-per-gallon according to the EPA estimate.
Options on the test car include keyless entry and start, premium audio system with Entune infotainment and navigation, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, power moonroof, wireless charging, remote start and a rear spoiler. Final MSRP including the $825 destination charge is $31,278.
Test drive in southern Arizona
This week I had the opportunity to drive the redesigned Camry around the Phoenix, Chandler and Tempe, Arizona metropolitan areas as well as a section of the Gila River Indian community south of town. The new Camry does everything the outgoing model did, but in a package that’s roomier and decidedly more youthful.
Although some buyers might prefer the additional power that the available 268-horsepower V-6 engine provides, the four-cylinder block is quite competent, with good power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The automatic transmission is well matched to the block, with smooth progression through the gears. There is no hunting or obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions.
Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. If the driver signals to change lanes and there is another vehicle in his path, the LED signals will flash red. It’s a great feature, especially for those who commute in areas with dense rush-hour traffic.
A rearview camera is standard, eliminating blind spots below the rear glass and in the back corners. Cross traffic alert sounds an audible alarm if it senses a vehicle passing to the back of the sedan when the driver shifts into reverse.
Toyota engineers have improved on-center response for their electric power steering systems by increasing torsional rigidity in the vehicles and better tuning. A 36.7-foot turning circle makes it easy to perform the occasional U-turn and maneuver through crowded parking lots.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and independent dual-link setup in the back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior, but there is a fair amount of tire noise at higher speeds.
The 2015 model is slightly longer and wider than the outgoing sedan, with more interior space. Toyota is known for its exceptional fit and finish: the Camry is a good example, with premium materials that make it look like a more expensive car than it actually is.
I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with ample lower lumbar support. The optional keyless start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob, adding a measure of safety after dark.
The newest version of Entune includes more apps accessible via the driver’s smart phone. Drivers can also utilize a concierge service for turn-by-turn directions: a nice alternative to programming the navigation system since it doesn’t require pulling over to the side of the road.
A new center stack screen is larger with split-screen displays that enable the driver to see maps and audio programming at the same time. The screen does tend to wash out in bright sunlight.
Repositioning the screen or adding a protective hood would solve the problem.
The Entune option package also adds Bluetooth streaming audio, real-time weather and traffic updates, satellite and HD radio.
A new thin-film-transistor display in the gauge cluster enables the driver to monitor real-time and average fuel economy, driving range and tire pressures. Average fuel economy for the test drive was 30 miles-per-gallon: two MPG better than the EPA estimate.
A spacious trunk has plenty of room for luggage, golf bags, groceries and modest-size camping equipment. Cyclists will be better served with one of Toyota’s crossover vehicles.
The Toyota Camry comes with ten airbags, whiplash resistant front seats, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and tire pressure monitoring with individual wheel displays.
Toyota builds the Camry in its Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant.
Like: A stylish, solidly built sedan with a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Center stack screen image tends to wash out in bright sunlight. Excessive tire noise at highway speeds.
Model: Camry XLE
Base price: $26,150
As tested: $31,278
Horsepower: 178 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 170 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 25/35 mpg city/highway
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