Toyota is betting big with its new Camry design

FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Toyota Camry

The redesigned Camry is sportier than ever.

By: Richard Noel

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: October 29th, 2014

Toyota's mid-cycle revamp of the Camry is everything it was hyped up to be. Having spent a day in sunny Jacksonville, Florida, driving several different models, it was easy to see why the Camry sold over 400,000 units last year and is on track to beat that number.

Everything about the new Camry is, well, new (except the roof). We won't call it a full redesign, but considering the amount of money and time Toyota put into the nearly, completely-new Camry, it might as well be.

Almost 2,000 parts were changed or redesigned. That's a lot of ground to cover.

  • Interior

    The Camry's interior is impressive. Everything is trimmed in satin metal and wrapped and stitched, including the dashboard, to provide the driver with a premium feel. Toyota installed a new 4.2 -inch TFT screen between the Optitron gauges which you'll find standard on everything except the LE gas model which should help to reduce driver distraction while providing important vehicle information.

    A cool feature, the direct Tire Pressure Monitoring System now allows the driver to monitor individual tire pressures. The console tray offers the usual storage and 12-volt power, USB port, and an optional wireless charging system, should your phone be equipped.

    Interior options for the Camry are fairly vast. The LE, SE, XLE, and XSE leave nothing to be desired. Everything from the strange diamond-patterned cloth seats on the Hybrid SE (it looked almost reptilian) to Alcantara suede with red accent-stitching on the sporty XSE, to full leather interior on the XLE, Toyota has you covered in whatever materials you fancy.

  • Exterior

    The first thing you'll notice about the new Camry is the grille. It's mean. The astoundingly aggressive front-end definitely helps give that athletic stance Toyota was looking for.

    The pronounced side character lines swoop across to a newly designed trunk lid. The low-profile LED headlamps definitely lend to an overall more expressive styling everyone wanted in the Camry.

    If you're into rims, or as I like to call them, shiny tire shoes, you have options. The LE rocks some boring 16-inch steelies but 17-inch alloys are available on the XLE and SE. If you want to get cray, the XSE sports some 18-inch alloys that definitely fit well with the overall aesthetic of the car.

  • On the Road

    Despite my usual "spotted owls be damned" mentality when it comes to the environment, I was eager to take the Camry Hybrid SE for a cruise. Humming along the I-95 outside Jacksonville, the Hybrid performed well.

    It was comfortable and the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has enough pep to get up to speed. The first thing you'll notice about the Camry while driving is the lack of road noise. Toyota engineers moved the side mirrors out a mere five millimeters which had a fairly dramatic effect on cabin noise. The interior was also padded with more sound-deadening materials.

    Even with the moon roof open, the interior was fairly quiet. The steering wheel is comfortable and just sporty enough to not look awkward in a Hybrid.

    The XSE was definitely more fun to drive. It has much sharper handling and a stiffer suspension and the 3.5-liter six-cylinder will definitely get going if you jam on it. The 4-wheel disc brakes with redesigned two-stage brake booster, created a super confident braking system that means the Camry will stop when you want it to.

    The six-speed automatic transmission was incredibly smooth at all speeds and with a curb weight that hovers around 3,500 pounds, the Camry is still very agile, despite its size.

  • Features & Price

    Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter six-cylinder

    Transmission: 6-speed automatic or Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (Hybrid SE)

    Base Price: $22,970

    Price (as tested): Approximately $26,150 and $33,170 (Hybrid SE)

    MPG: 25 city/ 35 highway

    Horsepower: 178-268

    Optional Equipment: Bluetooth, JBL Premium Entune Sound, Leather, Alcantara suede, Navigation, and a heap of other awesome features, depending on which engine/grade you're opting for.

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Toyota Camry, click here: 2015 Toyota Camry.