The 2015 Toyota Camry has been given a significant mid-generation overhaul a mere three years after it was completely redesigned. Styling is updated, suspensions have been retuned, the interior has been upgraded and several new features debut. In total, the updates don't break any new ground in the family sedan segment, but they do upgrade the Camry to the same level as its more recently introduced competitors and as a result, it earns an "A" rating from our editors.
What Is It?
The 2015 Toyota Camry is a five-passenger midsize family sedan. As before, it offers a spacious cabin, sufficient power, good fuel economy and ample feature content, but augments it for 2015 with elements that make it more appealing to the emotional side of buying decisions.
There are four trim levels: LE, SE, XSE and XLE. Essentially, the S and L variations indicate differences in suspension and steering tuning as well as styling inside and out. The X trim levels add a near-equal increase in feature content, and in fact, these two upper trim levels cost the same. It really comes down to how you'd prefer your Camry to look and drive. Note that all come standard with a four-cylinder engine, while the "X" trims can be had with a more powerful V6 engine.
Why the Early Change?
According to Toyota, its customers have been seeking more style and performance: a fact not only borne out in questionnaires and focus groups, but also by the fact that 45 percent of 2014 Camrys sold were the tighter-handling and sharper-looking SE trim. That 45 percent also constituted an average buyer who was 12 years younger than those who bought other trims.
At the same time, the improved interior and additional features represent a preemptive strike of sorts to prevent the Camry from growing stale in the face of ever-improving competition. New features like the color multifunction gauge display, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning are not unique to the segment, but were notably absent from the previous Camry's features list.
What Is New on the Outside?
With the exception of the roof, every exterior body panel is new for 2015. The rear is more rounded, with more prominent taillights and a large chrome strip that creates a more premium look in keeping with its larger sibling, the Avalon. The sides are more sculpted and the blocky C-pillar has been broken up with the placement of chrome and piano black trim to create the appearance of a more streamlined roof.
You're most likely to notice the changes up front, however. According to Camry chief engineer Monte Kaehr, the resemblance to the Lexus corporate face and its "Signature Spindle" grille was not intentional. "We went with the best sketch. We wanted something premium and athletic, and this is what we thought worked best."
Apparently, "premium and athletic" mean exactly the same thing to both Lexus and Toyota designers: a huge black grille in the general shape of a box cutter blade or hourglass. That grille on the Camry differs depending on trim level, with the sportier SE and XSE trims getting a glossy honeycomb insert and the other trims getting five bars spanning the lower portion.
What's New on the Inside?
Passenger and trunk space are unchanged, which is just fine, as there is plenty of space to go around. Although the driver seat could use some additional under-thigh support, the backseat remains one of the most spacious in the segment, with abundant leg- and headroom for 6-footers and an open greenhouse that doesn't make your aft passengers feel claustrophobic. Unfortunately, the fixed head restraints that can make affixing a child seat difficult remain. The trunk, at 15.4 cubic feet, is large and sensibly shaped.
The general cabin design has also carried over, but the materials and switchgear have been redone in an effort to create a more upscale environment. The quality of plastics has been improved, especially on the center console, while much of the doors are covered in padded simulated leather or suede (depending on trim). The transmission shifter remains gated, but the new leatherlike boot covering provides a more modern appearance.
The buttons and knobs for the climate controls are bigger than before, less toylike in quality, and as a result, are not only easier to use but imbue a higher-end look and feel. The controls that border the two available touchscreen infotainment interfaces are similarly bigger in size and nicer in quality. The larger of the two screens found in our test car is notably user-friendly for its straightforward audio controls with big virtual buttons.
The gauges also received a refit, with a simpler, classier twin gauge design (complete with a classy blue hue in the XLE) and a color display in between that showcases trip, navigation, entertainment and vehicle settings information. Within its menus is a revised tire-pressure monitor system that provides the pressures for each tire (rather than leaving you to figure which one is low) and a speed limit readout that may help prevent future tickets.
Now, this cabin is still a step below the current crop of Edmunds "A"-rated class leaders: the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima. However, while the quality of its cabin still may not beat them, the 2015 Toyota Camry is significantly closer than it was before.
What's New Under the Skin?
Toyota didn't simply set out to make a more interesting Camry to look at or a nicer one to sit in. There was a concerted effort to make it better to drive as well. A stiffer structure allows for several changes to the suspension tuning of every Camry model.
The result is a more buttoned-down, dynamic driving experience even in the LE and XLE, which are tuned more for comfort. The electric power steering system was also recalibrated for better on-center feel, enhanced straight-line stability and more direct-feeling steering inputs, and indeed, we felt far more involved with the driving experience. There is more steering effort than before and less on-center play at speed, although there remains a lack of steering feel that doesn't encourage you to drive enthusiastically (a Mazda 6 or Ford Fusion just might).
This is even true of the SE and new XSE models, which have separate, though similarly sharper steering and suspension tuning. They represent a more engaging Camry, but not one we'd go so far to describe as sporty. The 45 percent of Camry buyers who previously opted for the SE won't be disappointed, but they may also feel less compelled to get it since the L versions aren't as dreary to drive.
What's New Under the Hood?
There are no significant changes to the engines. Most 2015 Toyota Camry models (about 84 percent based on 2014 sales) will come with the same 2.5-liter inline-4 engine that sends 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
This powertrain brought the Camry from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds in Edmunds testing, which is an average time for the segment. Its fuel economy of 28 mpg combined (25 city/35 highway) is 2 mpg combined lower than the Honda Accord and Mazda 6, and 3 lower than the Nissan Altima.
While certain competitors have swapped out V6 engines in favor of turbocharged four-cylinders, the Camry still offers a trusty and smooth 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It, too, has a six-speed automatic (no CVT or nine-speeds here), yet still returns 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway). That's basically equal to the Accord and Altima, and within 1 mpg combined of the Fusion's 2.0-liter turbo-4. It achieved 28.8 mpg on our highway-intensive evaluation route and 24.2 mpg during its entire two-week test.
If you're getting the V6, however, you're expecting superior acceleration and the Camry shouldn't disappoint. It went from zero to 60 mph in our testing in 6.2 seconds, which makes it one of the quickest cars in the segment.
What Features Are Available?
Even the base Camry LE comes with automatic headlights, a rearview camera, an eight-way power driver seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen interface and a USB/iPod interface. The SE is similarly equipped, but gets alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery, and the aforementioned steering, suspension and styling differences that it shares with the XSE. Those trims also get transmission paddle shifters and more aggressively bolstered seats.
Both the XSE and XLE build upon that base equipment with LED running lamps, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and satellite and HD radio. In addition to the performance and styling elements, they also differ in their upholstery (XSE is a faux suede/real leather combo, the XLE is full leather). Standard on our V6-powered test car and optional on four-cylinder XSE and XLE trims are LED headlights, a noise-reducing windshield, a sunroof, a larger touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Qi wireless smartphone charging and a suite of smartphone-integration apps. Those trims can also be equipped with a 10-speaker JBL sound system, adaptive cruise control and several high-tech safety warning systems: blind spot, rear cross traffic, lane departure and forward collision. The latter can slow the car automatically in the event of driver inaction.
How Much Does All This New Stuff Cost?
The most basic 2015 Toyota Camry LE trim level starts at $22,970, which is an increase of only $545 versus the lesser equipped old L base trim. It's only $100 more than the outgoing Camry LE. From there, the SE hits the register at $23,840 (another $100 increase) while both the XLE and XSE cost $26,150. Adding the V6 to those trim levels brings the total to $31,370, as there is additional equipment tied to the bigger engine.
The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE starts at $26,790, an increase of $460 over last year. The SE goes for $27,995 and the XLE $29,980.
What Are Its Competitors?
2015 Ford Fusion: If you're interested in the sharper styling and driving dynamics now offered by the 2015 Toyota Camry, they are already offered (to a greater degree) in the Ford Fusion. Finicky electronics controls and less visibility are downsides, but the Fusion is definitely worth a drive.
2015 Honda Accord: The Accord may not be much of a looker, but it's arguably the most well-rounded family sedan and most synonymous with the Camry. It might not be the best of everything, but it has few faults and excellent reliability.
2015 Mazda 6: Virtually the same argument can be made for the Mazda 6 as the Ford Fusion, although the Mazda lacks the availability of a more powerful engine upgrade. Definitely worth a long look.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
If you liked the Camry before, you will like it even more now thanks to expressive styling, more involving driving dynamics and a higher-quality cabin. At the same time, those new to the segment will discover a car more in line with its competitors that also provides a unique choice of comfort and sport-tuned models with near equal feature content and powertrain choices.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Competitors like the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6 are arguably still better to look at, and unarguably sharper to drive without trade-offs in comfort.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds with this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.