Seat Time: 2015 Toyota Camry

October 28th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Toyota Camry

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Toyota
Make: Toyota
Model: Camry
Type: 4-door midsize sedan
Competitors: Honda Accord; Mazda6; Hyundai Sonata; KIA Optima; Chevy Malibu
Price: (4-cyl) LE-$22,970; SE-$23,840; XLE & XSE-$26,150; (V6) XSE & XLE-$31,370; (Hybrid) LE-$26,790; SE-$27,995; XLE-$29,980 (Delivery fee — $825)
Made in: Georgetown, Kentucky
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower; 3.5-liter 6-cylinder with 268 horsepower
EPA Ratings: (4-cylinder) 25city, 35highway, 28combined; (6-cylinder) 21city, 31highway, 25combined

Final Impression:
2015 Toyota Camry InteriorIt started with nearly 2,000 new parts, new sheet metal everywhere — but the roof — and a totally upgraded interior. Add to that the claim that you spent $2 Billion (yes, that’s with a “B”) dollars and you have what Toyota is calling its “mid-cycle refresh” of its best-selling Camry.

When the latest generation came out in 2011, many of the auto meritocracy said “THAT’S the new Camry?” In other words, they were surprised that there weren’t many surprises. So even though Camry continues to sell over 400,000 units a year in the USA alone, obviously Toyota decided to go back to the drawing board to give the car the kind of “oompf” it needs to compete in that bare-knuckled midsize category.

Now to be honest, the company kind of put this on the back of the customers. Focus groups over the last few years said they loved the existing powertrain packages but they had a list of things that they thought could improve the car. So the word went out to Calty (Design) and Toyota Technical (Engineering) in Michigan to mold that input; They then turned everything over to Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky and wha-la…we’ve got what essentially is a brand new generation Camry in just three years.

Now you could ask, “what’s new about the car?” But that might end up the length of a James Michener novel, so maybe the better question is, “what isn’t new?” And of course we already kind of answered that with the powertrains and the roof, so allow me to just throw a few of the fresher elements on the car in this review.

The exterior has been redesigned to give the car more visual appeal. From the grill to the hood to the rear and everything in between — save for that roof — Calty designers touched giving what Toyota calls a more “emotional” car.

2015 Toyota Camry Interior

Meanwhile, on the inside they virtually cleaned house adding new seats with fabrics/leathers galore, soft-touch materials throughout and an updated center stack that integrates with the Camry console better than before. And because we don’t want this Impression section to go on forever, we won’t name all the standard safety features but you’re pretty much covered with every which way. And then, of course, there’s the Entune multimedia media system which comes along with Camry as well a variety of audio and navigation packages depending on your chosen trim level.

Additionally on the inside, customers asked for a quieter Camry, so Toyota complied. The team redesigned exterior mirrors to diminish noise, improved window and door seals and even added another 30% more noise insulating materials in the cabin.

So of course now the question becomes, what’s the bottom line on the car? Better, worse, the same? Well, the car looks better but you’re not about to confuse it with a BMW. The interior is certainly upgraded but, again, it’s no Mercedes-Benz. What it is is a classic 4-door sedan that works well for families, sales folks and virtually anyone who needs reliable transportation — with a little room — and doesn’t want to go broke at the pump. If that’s your criteria, the 2015 Camry is your kind of car; it’s not necessarily mine, but as a viable midsize competitor it fits right in the mix. In fact, I can’t wait to drive it again.

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