2015 Toyota Camry XSE Review
Let us now praise boring cars.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 13th, 2015
The name Camry comes from the Japanese word kanmuri, which means "crown." It follows in Toyota's naming convention, which has always bestowed a royal name on the company's primary models (Crown, Corona, Corolla), but there's no way the company could have known in 1982 just how popular the Camry would become in the next 33 years.
Now in its 7th generation in the U.S., the Camry has been given a new facelift (a full refresh came in 2011), bringing it in line with the new, and far-less-boring look that Toyota (and its luxury arm, Lexus) have come up with.
As with a few other brands (Honda/Acura, VW/Audi) the line between luxury brand and non-luxury brand is becoming ever fuzzier with Toyota/Lexus. The styling for both brands is being seriously fancified, after years of criticism for being makers of boring, boxy-looking cars.
Gone are the dull, flat body panels, replaced with heavily contoured and crease-infused side panels and front- and rear-ends that have double the character of old Toyotas. Apparently Toyota hasn't gotten the memo that the era of the massive, front-end-engulfing grilles has come and gone, so its front ends continue to sport gaping maws, the likes of which are usually only seen on bottom-feeding members of the animal kingdom.
Oddly enough, while Toyota's grille remains an automotive anachronism, it actually looks quite good on them. Perhaps it's because any character at all is better than none, which is exactly how much the old Camry had. The new Camry, however, has some very nice things going on, outside and in.
The XSE trim adds LED headlights, moonroof, dual chrome-tipped exhaust, and 18-inch wheels instead of the standard 16-inch.
Toyota gussied up the Camry interior a few years ago, but it got even more improvements with the 2015 facelift. As it did with the exterior, Toyota has added an impressive dose of style to the Camry's interior.
Style-wise it's not a total departure from the 2014 Camry. The curvature of the dash and the single stitch line are still there. Gone are the silly little top screen and the radio display, both of which were needlessly distracting and aesthetically upsetting. The previous dashboard was a nightmare of competing curves, all of which have been simplified and unified in a much more pleasing arrangement.
For the XSE trim, leather-trimmed suede, eight-way-power-heated seats add a touch of luxury, and a Qi wireless charging station below the infotainment screen adds a touch of technology that most people can't use yet.
Overall, it's a big step in the right direction, and one that puts the Camry leagues ahead of its fiercest competitor, the Honda Accord, which still seems decades old, style-wise.
On the Road
The Camry's superiority to the Accord is apparent on the outside, and in the interior, but unfortunately, not on the road. Toyota has done a remarkable job injecting the appearance of style and substance to the Camry, but the driving dynamics remain tepid.
Even with the optional V-6 engine and the sport-tuned suspension of the XSE, the Camry never gives you that "Wow, this car's way more fun than it looks" feeling that the Accord delivers. That said, there's nothing particularly wrong with the way the Camry drives; it's just boring.
Like on the old Camry, the steering seems to dwell in some mechanical no-man's-land where it responds to input just fine, but it feels like the motion of your hands on the wheel and the movement of the car aren't in perfect sync.
The 18-inch wheels, while looking rad, dampen an already dull driving experience, and the engine and transmission are both unchanged from the previous Camry, which explains why the driving feel hasn't changed.
The Camry is an excellent car, no doubt about it. The 2015 is the best-looking midsize sedan on the market currently, and the interior is plenty nice as well. Unfortunately, the Camry still drives like the boring old kid-dropper-offer that it's always been. Perhaps we'll have to wait for the next new Camry for substantial drivetrain updates.
However, that only matters if you're someone who looks at driving as an activity that can liven up your day, rather than one that just helps you go about it in a serviceable way. For the average car buyer, the 2015 Camry offers everything you could possibly want (if you're willing to bump the price up to $35,000), and adds excellent fuel efficiency (31 hwy/ 21 city) into the mix. It's a serious contender, even if it doesn't quite match up to its toughest competitor.
Specs & Prices
Engine: 3.5-liter, naturally aspirated V-6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: front engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 258 hp / 248 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 21 city / 31 highway
Base Price: $31,370
As Tested: $35,668 (incl. $825 destination)
Entune Audio Suite: 7-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/CD/MP3 playback, 10 speakers (including subwoofer), auxiliary input, USB input, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio.
Technology Package: Pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beam.
Additional options: blind-spot monitor with cross-traffic alert, illuminated door sill enhancements, remote start.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Toyota Camry, click here: 2015 Toyota Camry.