Saturday 22 October 2016
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Test Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry SE Review

Test Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry SE Review

The 2015 Camry has been completely redesigned, and Toyota is calling it the boldest Camry ever. Much of that has to do with the model we are driving, the SE trim level, and its dressed up version, the XSE. The idea of these two trim levels is a sportier look and feel, that takes this “everyday sedan” up a notch. It may not scream performance sedan, but it is an improvement over some years when the Camry was considered a bit bland.

Starting with the exterior styling, the SE and XSE both feature the honeycomb grille, the black sport trim bezels around the headlamps, the rear spoiler, chrome tip exhaust, and dressed up wheels. The SE one we’re in has 17” alloys with a graphite finish.

Inside, the SE cabin is nicely appointed, with a unique sport fabric, upgraded to leather trim on the XSE, with racing inspired red stitching. The seats feel extremely supportive with thick thigh bolsters, and the leather trimmed steering wheel feels solid, with mostly responsive steering, if a little limp, particularly at lower speeds.

The cabin overall is spacious, quiet, with outstanding visibility. With a lot of the newer vehicle designs and added safety features, rear visibility seems to be shrinking, but I found this Camry to provide me with one of the best rear and side views. Overall, interior space is quite comparable in the class, but the rear seat is one of the best, with particularly when it comes to head and shoulder room. So keep that in mind if it’s your family vehicle. Your passengers will most likely be more comfortable in this than in some of the competitors.

As far as your cargo space, it’s 15.4 cu ft, which is quite acceptable in the class. That translates to six suitcases in our suitcase test. Plus, the rear seats do fold down for the times when you need a little extra space.

The standard engine is a 2.5 4-cylinder, with 178 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. I found the pick-up to be more than adequate for this size vehicle, and I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness. The Camry is not necessarily known for being performance oriented, but the 2015 model feels a bit more agile. Yet it’s still a really comfortable ride. There is a new sport tuned suspension that feels like it can handle the challenge of both more aggressive driving as well as less than ideal roads. Even when I hit some big potholes, I was impressed how much it absorbed the impact. It’s a nice balance of having a car that feels a little more aggressive in the handling while still maintaining that traditional Camry comfort ride.

The SE comes standard with an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated outside mirrors, back-up camera, and the Entune Audio with your typical radio modes, USB port with iPod connectivity, and streaming music through Bluetooth. Also standard is hands-free cell phone use with phone book access. If you’re in the XSE, you’ll get Sirius/Xm radio with HD traffic and weather information, heated front seats, and a power passenger seat. There are additional packages available with dual zone climate control, heated front seats, a Navigation system, smart key with push-button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror and Homelink.

As far as safety goes, Toyota has made it a hallmark of the brand with its Star Safety system and 10 standard airbags. Again, if you’re in the upper level XSE, you also have the option of some newer safety technologies such as a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert and a Pre-Collision system.

All in all, the pricing is quite competitive. The SE starts at $23,800 with the dressed up XSE starting at just over $26,000. Keep in mind those prices do not include a lot of the safety and connectivity technologies, but when even you add those on, you are still right under $30,000 for the 4-cylinder model.

The Camry has been the best-selling vehicle in the country for most of the past 17 years, and it’s easy to see why. When it comes to this car, clearly Toyota has a tried and true formula that works. And now with updated styling and tweaks to the steering and suspension that makes the driving experience a little more fun, plus adding more luxury options to what was typically the more stripped down sport SE, I think Toyota has raised the bar for the car. It was a pleasure to drive, and for the first time in years, caught my eye with the styling cues. I’d give the new Camry a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Check out Jerry’s recent review of the 2015 Camry XLE.

  • What I liked most: Comfort, space, sportier feel than previous generations
  • What I would change: Limp steering feel at lower speeds
  • MSRP: Base price $22,970. As equipped $26,880.
  • Fuel Economy: 25 City/25 highway/28 combined.
  • Weight: 3300 Pounds.
  • Length-Width-Height: 190.9” long/71.7” wide/57.9” High.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.0 gallons
  • Towing Capacity: N/A
  • 2015 Camry in a few words: Nicely appointed, always reliable, spacious mid-size sedan
  • Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain, plus Toyota Care no-cost maintenance 2-year/25,000 mile, and Roadside Assistance 2-year/unlimited
  • Car Pro Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Photo Credit: Toyota