2015 Toyota Camry at a glance
BODY STYLE: Mid-size sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive. Six-speed automatic transmission, CVT on the Hybrid.
ENGINE: 2.5-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder (179 hp, 170 lb/ft); 3.5-litre DOHC V6 (268 hp and 248 lb/ft); 2.0-litre/electric motor hybrid (200 hp, lb/ft NA)
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.5-litre, 9.7/6.9/8.4L/100 km city/highway/combined; 3.5-litre, 11.0/7.5/9.5L/100 km; Hybrid, 5.5/6.0/5/7L/100 km city/highway/combined.
CARGO: Camry, 436 litres (15.4 cu ft); Hybrid, 370 litres (13.1 cu ft)
PRICES: base LE $23,750; XLE, $30,970; XLE V6, $34,550; SE, $24,990; XSE, $27,990; XSE V6, $33,650; Hybrid, $28,410-$34,500
2015 Toyota?Camry goes boldly forward
CHARLOTTE, NC: The new ?Bold? Camry!
Accommodating, yes. Dependable, surely. But bold, hardly ? that is until now.
The Camry was new from top to bottom three years ago. Normally the period between model changes is four years, but time marches on and so do customer expectations.
There was nothing wrong with the current Camry. In fact it remains the largest selling passenger car in North America.
But according to Monte Kaehr, chief engineer on the 2015 Camry, Toyota felt it had to move up the new version for a number of reasons.
Chief among these was styling.
Camry has never made a bold fashion statement, but the current model was given new skin and a sportier suspension that allows drivers to enjoy the handling instead of just plodding along from point A to B.
The 2015 Toyota Camry starts with a deep grille a la Lexus, and stylish LED driving lights set perpendicularly into the lower outside corners of the nose on some models.
A lot of work went into the cabin. Most noticeable is the elimination of the digital clock at the top of the centre stack, allowing the LCD screen to move up higher and be more in line of sight of the driver.
It?s a little thing, but the knobs lower down on the centre stack are larger, making them more user friendly to those wearing gloves.
Toyota has made backup cameras standard across the board. There has been much talk of these being government safety mandated in the near future.
?Nobody knows when that?s going to happen, so we went ahead and did it anyway,? Kaehr said.
Although it sits on the same platform with the same wheelbase as the 2014 model, the 2015 shares no body panels except for the roof.
But there?s more under the skin, almost 2,000 new parts.
The 2015 Camry is available with either a 2.5-litre, inline DOHC four-cylinder (179 hp, 170 lb/ft) or a 3.5-litre, DOHC V6 (268 hp, 248 lb/ft) with a six-speed automatic driving the front wheels.
Fuel consumption for the 2.5-litre is listed at 9.7/6.9/8.4L/100 km city/highway/combined. The V6 returns 11.0/7.5/9.5L/100 km.
The other version of the 2016 is the Hybrid, which retains the 2.0-litre gasoline engine/electric motor for a combined 200 hp (Toyota refuses to give torque numbers). Drive is to the front wheels through a CVT transmission.
The Camry is the most popular hybrid Toyota sells, and that includes Prius. The Hybrid accounts for about 20 per cent of Camry sales in Canada.
Fuel consumption is now rated under the new, stricter NRCan five-cycle test loop coming in at 5.5/6.0/5.7L/100 km city/highway/combined.
The trunk of the Camry is huge at 0.436 cu m (15.4 cu ft) while the Hybrid is slightly smaller at 0.37 cu m (13.1 cu ft) because the battery is behind the rear seat.
There are nine trim levels (six for the Camry and three for the Hybrid) available for 2015, making it possible for anyone to find a Camry to match their budget.
Pricing starts at $23,850 for the base LE. Upgrade packages add 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio and eight-way power driver?s seat.
The sportier SE starts at $24,990 with the new for 2015 XSE at $27,990.
The topline XLE $30,970 comes with all the bells and whistles including a wireless charging tray for mobile devices.
The Hybrid ranges in price from $28,419-$34,500 depending on level of trim.
Riding along through the lush North Carolina countryside near Charlotte, Engineer Kaehr said there was no problem convincing Japan to upgrade the styling inside and out, but the reworking of the suspension to make a real road car took longer ? and it was worth it.
The platform is stiffer (extra spot welds) and the suspension geometry enhanced, in some cases with rebound shocks. More direct electric power steering is noticeably tauter than before.
I was driving the new XSE model with the 2.5-litre in a wonderful metallic deep red that glittered in the early morning sunshine.
The XSE as tested came in it $27,990 (V6, $33,650) with enhanced styling for an edgier look (if you can imagine that on a Camry), with a mesh grille and model specific 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, this has to be the first Camry I have ever driven with bolstered seats, in Alcantara leather no less. The stitching on the door panels is real, not moulded to look that way.
More to the point, handling is more dynamic and actually fun, which I don?t think I?ve said about a Camry before. It has XSE-specific shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher-rate coil springs, specially tuned steering and other enhancements to make it the best handling Camry ever by a long shot.
We did not have a long drive in the XSE but I noticed right away that I could point it into any corner at any speed. There was a bit of front tire nibble when pushed, but very few will ever do this.
Sight lines are good and the cabin is very quiet on the highway.
Coming to showrooms across the country in about a month, Toyota is going to make a lot of noise about the new spirit of Camry.
The tag line in the advertising campaign is ?One Bold Choice Leads to Another? which, when you think about it, describes the 2015 Toyota Camry quite well.