April 28, 2014
2015 Toyota Camry XSE. Click image to enlarge
Preview by Mark Stevenson, photos by Mark Stevenson and courtesy Toyota
Originally published on April 16
Ever since Akio Toyoda issued the decree of more exciting product – or at least product that looks more exciting – Toyota has been on a rampage, busting down the beige hallway walls in an effort to create unique, if somewhat polarizing, designs.
The Toyota Camry, traditionally the torchbearer of beige-nation, is now playing in a segment of very competitive offerings from Mazda, Ford and the Koreans, not to mention their arch rival Honda Accord. Something had to be done to make the Camry appeal to those with a pulse.
Officially a refresh, the new-for-2015 Camry shares only one body panel – the roof – with its predecessor and is heavily influenced by its little brother Corolla, itself a game changer at Toyota House. The mid-sizer also gets its own version of the Lexus spindle grille.
Before we deep dive into the new design, everything under the hood is relatively the same. Two engines – a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 – continue on unchanged with six-speed transmission, as does the hybrid option with its 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle gas engine and CVT.
However, almost everything else – save the roof – is different, in one of the most wide-sweeping refreshes to happen at Toyota in recent memory.
Longer and wider than the outgoing model, Toyota aims for the Camry to command an athletic stance and exude sportiness. Length has been increased by 46 mm (1.8 in.) and width by 10 mm (0.4 in.). Up front is a new fascia as well, featuring the aforementioned trapezoidal grille housed in a much wider front bumper.
Up front are new LED daytime running lights and the option to have LED low- and high-beam headlights. These new headlights blend into the bodylines created by the updated grille, much like the Corolla and other offerings from Toyota. The rear also benefits from significantly updated sheet metal and lighting.
It’s not just the Camry’s exterior receiving attention. The mid-sizer’s new interior goes under the knife as well, with Toyota stating it’s more “modern” and “refined”. Higher-quality soft-touch plastics abound in the Camry while a new centre console houses an updated version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. For the first time in the segment, a wireless charging pad for electronics is also available.
In front of the driver sits a new steering wheel with easier controls and a 4.2 inch TFT screen embedded in the instrument panel. Optitron gauges are available on SE, XLE, and new XSE models.
Toyota has also focused on making the Camry’s new interior much quieter thanks to two major revisions. The first was to increase carpet padding usage by some thirty percent. The other was to extend the length of distance between side mirrors and the main body structure to reduce wind noise. And, as all automakers seem to do, window and door seals have been improved over the current Camry.
When Toyota introduced the SE trim to the Toyota lineup, the company noticed sales going to a significantly younger demographic – some 12 years on average – thanks for sportier treatments. Building on the success of this trim, which now makes up some 45 percent of all Camry sales in the US, Toyota has introduced two new trims to the Camry lineup.
2015 Toyota Camry XSE & 2015 Toyota Camry. Click image to enlarge
The first new trim, XSE, expands on the SE trim while offering unique 18 inch wheels along with differences in suspension componentry and tuning. EPS tuning is also unique to the XSE as Toyota says this new trim is “the sportiest Camry yet.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Toyota will be giving their Camry Hybrid an SE trim for the first time in hopes of bringing younger buyers to the greener option.
With over 10.2 million Camrys sold in the US since its inception and over 6.6 million still on the road today, there’s no doubt Toyota knows how to make a desirable family sedan for the masses. But, by aiming it to be a sportier car, and catching up with the formulas that seem to be working for other automakers, Toyota seems to be dead set on retaining their position of bestselling car in America.
But, even with this sweeping refresh – which is commendable to say the least – we will have to wait until the next full generation change before we see improved drivetrains.
The 2015 Camry is expected to hit dealer lots later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.