Review: 2015 Toyota Camry XLE

One of the world’s best-selling vehicles, the Toyota Camry has been family-friendly since its debut in 1982. A lot has changed since then and the 2015 edition is a lot more fun to drive. But, does it still fit the daily needs of the average family?

2015_Toyota_Camry_XLE_014Under The Hood:

The new for 2015 Camry features 3 engine choices, a base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, a 3.5-liter 6-cylinder, and a hybrid which adds a 149 kW electric motor to the 4-cylinder. Our XLE tester was equipped with the 6-cylinder which produces a respectable 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque . It was mated to a 6-speed Electronically Controlled transmission which delivered smooth power to the front wheels and never left us wanting for more.

The Camry also features ECO mode which adjusts throttle response and HVAC settings in order to optimize fuel economy. We noticed little difference in performance and basically no change in fuel economy from one mode to the next from rural roads to highway to rush hour driving.

Exterior:

The 2015 Camry was redesigned “bumper to bumper and floor to roof” seeing nearly 2,000 parts changed or redesigned. Those changes included the exterior styling which Toyota describes using words like aggressive, sleek, and muscular. Trim levels with sportier exterior trim additions than our XLE tester move the styling closer to these modifiers, but we found the styling to be mostly forgettable. The new Camry looks like the design period most long-lived vehicles go through that quickly appear dated.

There are some modern, stylish options available. LED’s, wraparound tail lamps, available fascia and spoiler options as well as exciting colors help to sex up (a little bit at least) a fairly vanilla sedan.

2015_Toyota_Camry_XLE_011Interior:

The inside of the new Camry earned a grade of satisfactory. The seating was comfortable. The hour or two long stretches we spent in the seats were comfortable and indicated longer road trips would maintain comfortable, relaxed seating. Legroom in the rear was plenteous. The ‘tweens had plenty of room and mentioned more than once how comfortable they were.

Audio and HVAC controls were intuitive to use and easy to find–exactly what we have come to expect from Toyota.

Fit and finish were also up to the standard expected of Japanese automakers. The soft-touch plastics were not the most premium of materials, but were obviously high quality. There were no gaps, squeaks, or rattles.

The middling grade is partially due to that very same plastic. There was a lot of it. Plastic to the front and plastic to the sides. Those intuitive controls were also an issue. They looked dated. Where they should have been sleek, they were big. Where size mattered, they were a tad small.

Storage was a plus. The glove box is cavernous with a shelf to separate your goodies. In console storage was decent. Console cupholders were a treat. Designed to fit several sizes of beverage, the holders use a spring loaded hinge that requires no adjustment–put your beverage in and the cupholder adjusts. The in door map pockets feature a slot for a bottle. We found our favorite brand’s 1-liter bottle fit perfectly into the bump-out.

2015_Toyota_Camry_XLE_016

Infotainment:

The available 7″ touchscreen display provides access to Toyota’s Entune App Suite with Entune Premium Audio. The touchscreen controls Navigation, audio, smartphone syncing (via Bluetooth or USB), and allows you to view the backup camera.

The infotainment screen is exactly what we have come to expect from Toyota. It’s a system we are used to and one we like; however, there are large buttons that bookend the modern screen that are large enough to be almost garish. They weren’t that big in the Highlander, and just seemed to throw the aesthetic out of balance.

The touchscreen does not control HVAC, but those controls are just below the infotainment screen and are easy to reach and use. Dual-climate control is available and is something we are starting to get used to.

We really liked the placement of the center stack space where we could keep our smartphones. Able to be seen but out of the way and not able to fall on the ground if we swerved or made a quick turn, the space is one of those things every vehicle should have.

The Drive:

The overall driving experience was nice. The car was surefooted and confidence inspiring. There was always the feeling of power in reserve. Pedal feel was solid without any touchiness or too much play. Seating was comfortable and the layout of the inside required very little getting used to. The sense of quality and the overall level of comfort make it easy to see why the Camry has been America’s bestselling car so often in the last two decades.

The suspension felt sportier than we expected it to be however, overall the vehicle felt wide to drive. But, make no mistake, it wasn’t fun- it was functional, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Camry’s Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) was a feature we could live without. The system uses radar to measure distance between you and vehicles ahead and maintains a set distance by automatically slowing your vehicle. The default distance when we first engaged the cruise control had us trying to figure our what could possibly be close enough in front of us to necessitate such abrupt slowing. The settings can be adjusted fairly easily to narrow the distance, but even the narrowest option had us slowing long before we felt it necessary and taking what seemed like a monumental time to get back up to speed.

The DRCC setting can be turned off, but it must be done immediately after turning the cruise control on. The distraction of turning the system off and having to look down at the driver’s information screen seemed more of a safety issue than the potential tailgating of conventional cruise control.

Important Numbers for Families:

  • 0.0 – Toyota is running a deal with 0.0 APR and 60 months of financing on the 2015 Camry making the vehicle payments easier to manage in a family’s budget.
  • 10 – The Camry XLE has 10 airbags including the driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, rear seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags
  • 15.4 – Each 2015 Camry model has 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space. This puts it in line with its closest competitor, the Honda Accord.
  • 25,000 – With every 2015 Camry purchase or lease, buyers get the Toyota Care complimentary maintenance plan. For 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, every new Toyota will be covered for all normal factory scheduled service, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance.

Family 5 Test:

  1. Car Seats –  The Camry is built for families and car seats move in and out of the vehicle easily while an average sized adult can squeeze between two in the back seat if necessary.
  2. Coffee Cups – Worthy of more than one mention, the cup holders were one of the interior treats of the vehicle. Well positioned, the cup holders adequately held almost every drink (hot or cold) securely and without spillage thanks to spring loaded hinges.
  3. Luggage –  One of the Camry’s highlights is its storage space. There was plenty of room for two full sized suitcases, four pillows, four sleeping bags, and two loaded-to-the-gills book bags when we loaded up the space for a family overnight at the local zoo.
  4. Golf Clubs – Have a foursome going to tee off? There’s abundant space for everyone’s clubs in the trunk.
  5. Groceries – If you’re stocking up to host the neighborhood Super Bowl party, a family reunion, or a week of having your family come stay for Spring Break, you’ll have all the room you need in the 2015 Toyota Camry.

The Bottom Line:

The Camry is a well-designed conveniently sized sedan that is simple to drive and inoffensive. It’s easy to understand why its been the best-selling sedan in the United States for last twelve years. This mid-sized sedan features plenty of room for four adults and their luggage while providing touring comfort. There was just a void in all that efficiency and practicality. There was no fun; there was no wow factor. There was an adequate, comfortable commute.

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To see more pictures and video from this vehicle test and future tests, follow Drive My Family on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Vine (@DriveMyFamily).

all images courtesy of Toyota 
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