In a big surprise for Toyota fans at this year’s New York Auto Show, the Japanese brand debuted its best-selling Camry for the 2015 model year with a host of significant changes that improve both its look and feel. From more-refined sheetmetal to a revamped interior and two new trim levels, there’s a whole lot to see here that should help the Camry stack up well with newer family sedans like the Mazda6 and Honda Accord.
Starting at the exterior, you’ll find a drastically altered design that shares almost no body panels with the 2014 model, despite riding on the same basic platform. The car’s hood gets more definition, and the massive Lexus-like trapezoidal grille is impossible to ignore. Side body lines are more flowing and less sharply creased, and even the rear deck and taillamps are all-new. With LED daytime running lamps and a more dynamic greenhouse, the new design succeeds in excitement whereas the old model just blended in.
Improvements continue once you are seated in the interior, which features a new center stack and dashboard along with a secondary display screen high on the dash with customizable information designed to be easy to access while driving. The primary display for HVAC, audio and infotainment controls is redesigned and now in color, and overall ergonomics and build quality have been improved.
Behind the Wheel
A chief criticism of the modern Camry is in its driving dynamics, where it feels a bit floaty and unwieldy compared with say, the new Ford Fusion. Toyota has sought to remedy this with changes to the chassis and suspension, including revised shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher spring rate coil springs and additional structural rigidity. Two new trim levels, the luxurious and sporty XSE and the more-dynamic Hybrid SE, receive the best new components and also feature exclusive 18-inch wheel designs. Toyota says around 45% of buyers opted for the SE trim level for 2014, so it’s only natural the sportiest Camry offering has been given a goings-over.
As for powertrains, the familiar 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines carry over unchanged and come once again matched with 6-speed automatic transmissions. The hybrid carries on with its Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motor combo, bringing 43 city and 39 highway mpg. The Camry was never short on power, so let’s hope the dynamic changes will help the driver make better use of it than ever before.
The new 2015 Camry will go on sale with a release date later this year, presumably in the Fall. Pricing should match the current 2014 model, which starts at $22,235 and $26,140 for the Hybrid, in order to stay competitive in the red-hot family sedan segment. Will pleasing new styling and chassis changes be enough to push the new Camry over the top? The U.S.’s best-selling car 12 years running should have competitors losing some sleep.