The generational lifecycle of Toyota cars and trucks is usually very consistent. Every five or six years, the company typically debuts a new version of a given car and, apart from some mild updates of a chrome strip here or a reshaped headlight design there, leaves it alone until the next redesign. The 2015 Toyota Camry represents a significant departure from the norm, however, as Toyota has thoroughly overhauled it a mere three years after a complete redesign. Whatever the reasons are for the change — a good guess would be that Toyota feels the need to have a more competitive Camry this year — the end result is certainly good news if you’re shopping for a 2015 midsize family sedan.
The Camry’s changes are obvious on the outside, where all but the roof has been restyled. The grille is bigger, more prominent and indicative of the pricier Toyota Avalon and its Lexus corporate cousins. In profile, the Camry is more sculpted and less slablike, and the car’s rear styling has been smoothed out. Overall, we think the Camry looks more refined, premium and grown up. Inside, the Camry’s overall design and generous passenger space remain unchanged, but Toyota has improved the quality of plastics — especially on the center console — while most of the door panels are now covered in padded simulated leather or suede (depending on the trim level). The buttons and knobs for the climate controls are bigger and less toylike than before and, as a result, are not only easier to use but imbue a higher-end look and feel. Plus, every Camry now gets classier gauges and a user-friendly Entune touchscreen interface.
The four-cylinder and V6 engines remain unchanged, but Toyota did make significant improvements to the Camry’s body structure and suspension tuning. The result is a more buttoned-down, confident driving experience that Toyota says its customers have been requesting. This latest Camry still isn’t what we would call a sporty family sedan like a Mazda 6 or Ford Fusion, but it is more responsive and generally better to drive.
That also applies to the popular SE trim, which not only dials up the driving engagement factor further but also boasts more aggressive styling cues. For 2015, though, it is joined by an XSE trim that for the first time allows customers to pair the SE’s visual and suspension enhancements with the more luxurious XLE’s greater comfort and convenience features. This provides a greater amount of customer choice and creates two distinct flavors of Camry that makes it stand out in the family sedan segment.
Indeed, standing out is something that the Camry has not done in a very long time. If anything, its previously so-so interior quality and forgettable driving experience made it stand out from top-rated family sedans like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima in a negative way. The 2015 Toyota Camry, however, corrects many of its previous deficiencies, adds a little more verve and, although we wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim it the class leader, places it squarely within the best-in-class pack.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Toyota Camry is a five-passenger midsize sedan available in LE, SE, XSE and XLE trim levels. There is also a Toyota Camry Hybrid reviewed separately.
Standard equipment on the base LE includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, keyless entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen electronics interface, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The SE builds upon that with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, unique exterior styling and interior trim elements, sport fabric and simulated leather upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and upgraded gauges.
Satellite radio, HD radio and a color trip computer display can be added to the LE and SE as part of the Entune Plus package. A sunroof is also optional.
The XSE builds upon the SE’s equipment with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED running lamps, leather and simulated suede upholstery, heated front seats with more aggressive side bolstering, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and HD radio.
The Convenience package available on the four-cylinder SE and XSE trims includes keyless ignition and entry, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The XLE is equipped similarly to the XSE, however, it has the LE’s more comfort-oriented suspension tuning and lacks the SE/XSE’s sporty styling elements. It has 17-inch alloy wheels and full leather upholstery.
The following items are optional on the four-cylinder XSE and XLE and standard on their V6-powered versions: LED headlights, a noise-reducing windshield, a sunroof, the Convenience package items, a 7-inch upgraded Entune touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Qi wireless smartphone charging and a suite of smartphone-integration apps.
Optional on the XSE and the XLE is a blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system, the Advanced Technology package (lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision warning and braking system, and automatic high beam headlight control), and a 10-speaker JBL sound system.
The XLE can be equipped with Safety Connect emergency telematics (see Safety section).
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2015 Toyota Camry trim comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.
In Edmunds testing, a Camry LE with that powertrain went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28 mpg combined (25 city/35 highway), which is at least 2 mpg fewer than its main competitors.
The Camry XSE and XLE can be equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It too has front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic. A Camry XLE V6 sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars in the class. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy of 25 mpg combined (21/31) is on par with its competitors.
Every 2015 Toyota Camry comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and a rearview camera.
Options on the XSE and XLE include a blind-spot warning system paired with a rear cross traffic alert system. The Advanced Technology package adds a lane-departure warning system and a pre-collision system that uses the adaptive cruise control sensors to anticipate an accident, warn the driver and brake if need be to prevent or mitigate an accident. Optional only on the XLE is Safety Connect, which adds automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button and a stolen-vehicle locator.
In government crash testing, the Camry received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Camry its best possible rating of “Good” in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. The Camry also earned a “Good” score in the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraint/seatbelts (whiplash protection) tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2015 Toyota Camry is blessed with one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins in the midsize family sedan segment. Even tall adults will find plenty of space above their heads and in front of their knees, while a rear-facing child seat will fit in back with ease. The fixed rear headrests make it difficult to properly secure a front-facing child seat, though. Space in the trunk, at 15.4 cubic feet, is average for a midsize sedan.
In terms of controls, the center stack’s buttons are big, easy to read at a glance and glove-friendly without being comically large or ugly. This is especially true of the sensibly designed climate controls. Every Camry gets a standard 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen interface, which controls the audio system, available smartphone-integrated apps and the optional navigation system. We would deem very few of these modern interfaces to be truly user-friendly, but Entune is one of the better and simpler ones available.
With improvements made to its body structure, suspension and steering, every 2015 Toyota Camry is more responsive than the previous versions to driver inputs and more composed when going around turns. This is especially true of the SE and XSE trims, which dial up the driver engagement even further. True, they don’t quite reach the same level of sharpness offered by sportier competitors like the Mazda 6. But that’s quite all right as these popular trim levels simply feel like a modern family sedan should when you’re behind the wheel, feeling like neither a would-be sport sedan nor, on the other end of the spectrum, a big rolling couch.
Both the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and optional 3.5-liter V6 engines deliver satisfying acceleration in a smooth fashion. Transmission downshifts are commendably responsive, which is noteworthy given that some rivals’ automatic transmissions are lethargic in this regard for the sake of fuel economy.