It’s no surprise that the Toyota Camry is one of the best top selling family sedans on the market. So when it came time to update its 7th generation, Toyota jumped its four year make-over two years early for its 2015 mid-cycle refresh. Toyota mentioned that if the Camry was its own manufacturer, it would rank as one of the top 10% producing vehicles in the world. We guess that explains its large design budget that the designers got to play with. And boy, did they have some fun.
Without changing the bones underneath, Toyota went to town on the Camry. There are nearly 2,000 new parts and every panel except the roof has been changed. Trim levels remain the same LE, SE, XLE, Hybrid LE, & Hybrid XLE; but now for the new 2015, the Camry is bringing the best of both worlds with the XSE and a Hybrid SE – offering premium features without having to sacrifice the sportier appeal.
The new design is a bold one, the Camry shows off its aggressive flair with a new enhanced front end, head lights, grille treatment and bumper – SE trims receive a sportier honeycomb grille in lieu of the new 5-bar grille appearance. On higher trims such as the XSE and XLE come LED daytime running lamps fitted in the lower niche of the bumper. Enhancements continue down the side giving a more curved silhouette design finished off with a stylish C-Pillar quarter panel. Finishing off at the rear, the Camry has been given new taillights and rear bumper that is fairly similar to the new Corolla.
Additional work went into upgrading the interior for a more comfortable luxurious setting. Using the current generation’s structure and same interior space, Toyota managed to squeeze .44 cubic feet more out of its interior volume just by removing a lot of the hard plastics, replacing them with soft touch materials and redesigning things like the door panels and center console. This new Camry is full of new, modern, luxury feel – the hard dashboard is now lined in leather with faux stitching, there are new accent treatments and on the sportier SE and XSE trims suede material has been added to the mix.
There is more to life than luxury – new technology has been added too. There’s a new multi-functional steering wheel, instrument cluster with a 4.2” information color display and Entune software with a new fantastic JBL audio system. New options have also been added including Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Radar Guided Cruise Control.
It’s what you don’t see, but rather feel, that has the most dramatic change. Toyota listened to what their customers wanted and they wanted something that ultimately drove better. So Toyota focus their attention on the suspension, chassis and steering… and after our one hour venture, there was a vast noticeable improvement.
The chassis has been made stronger, adding more spot welds to the frame. The suspension has been re-tuned for a firmer ride which will show mass improvement in handling and body roll without having to sacrifice ride comfort. The electric power steering has also been tampered with that allows for better feedback and responsiveness to the driver. All of these subtle enhancements add up to a much more pleasurable driving experience. The Camry will also continue to offer its three powertrain options: 2.5-liter four cylinder 170 horsepower engine, 3.5-liter V-6 268 horsepower engine, and 2.5-liter four cylinder hybrid.
Since the powertrain remains the same, so does the six-speed automatic transmission & the CVT transmission in the Hybrid models. That also means EPA ratings remain the same: 25 city / 35 highway for the 2.5-liter, 21 city / 31 highway for the 3.5-liter and 40 city / 38 highway for the Hybrid.
We find that Toyota has moved the Camry into a great direction. This new design is an exciting one that offers a comfortable, sportier interior and manages to be a lot of fun to drive for what’s supposed to be a typical family hauler. Once we get one for a little longer, we’ll be able to bring a full report.