I pulled up to the Toyota dealer yesterday to pick up my tester the 2015 Toyota Camry, as I pulled up I noticed a new Corolla in the parking lot but not Camry. I was then handed the keys and I went on my search for the Camry, and there it was right in front of my face -- it looked almost exactly like that Corolla so I totally missed it.
There certainly is something to be said about a family resemblance and Toyota's new fascia certainly carries that design across the line. What happened next I find even more humourous was when my other half said: "That's a Camry? It's too sporty to be a Camry!"
Isn't that just telling? The Camry has a reputation of bland motoring, I talked to a few people about that today and it is pretty prevalent. Bland, reliable transportation, that defines the Camry -- well that is an image Toyota is trying to shed, at least the bland part.
My tester seems to have a few things going for it to help shed that stigma. One being that it does look sporty and is sporting 18-inch alloy rims which certainly helps that situation. It is fairly well equipped as well and the red stitching along the dash and door panels add to that sporty character. The engine is no slouch either, powering my tester is Toyota's 3.5L V6 that boasts 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque.
Pricing: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6
Base Price: $33,900
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $35,620
For the price (just over $33,000), this vehicle seems well equipped – Navigation, blink spot detection with cross traffic alert, backup camera, JBL Audio system, moonroof, heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and more.
The seats are leather with suede-like inserts that offer the best of many worlds (sporty looking, comfortable and not cold in the winter). The layout of the interior is very ergonomically friendly, everything is within easy reach and the buttons are intuitive and simple to use.
But it's not all perfect; although my complaints are small, there are a few. The trunk probably bothers me the most – there is a button to open it but it is so recessed that every time I try to use it I fumble around. Closing it also requires me to get my hands all salty and dirty on the top of the trunk as there is no internal handle.
The other complaint is the cheap plastics that line the dash and centre console. The bin, below the HVAC controls and to the left of the steering wheel just feel flimsy and cheap. The flat black plastic has no texture and seems like it would scratch and scuff easily.
My tester doesn't just look sporty, the Camry XSE comes standard with what Toyota calls "sports tuned" Suspension, both front and rear. This includes an independent dual-link coilover rear suspension setup with all the buzz words including Macpherson struts up front.
So does the Camry handle like a sports car? Well not exactly, the suspension is smooth and compliant but it is still controlled. Perhaps a little stiffer than many might think when they think of the Camry, but by no means is it a stiff ride. But this is all okay, this Camry handles well past what most people would ever care to explore anyways.
The V6 engine of course does cash in that sporty look. It effortlessly moves the Camry around with little to no fuss, step on the throttle hard and it pull the Camry along with authority, but the real benefit here is the effortless motion and quietness this engine delivers.
Where I am let down is the brakes, they are soft and do not inspire confidence in the least. In fact, numerous times I have felt like the car just wasn't stopping until I really put my foot down hard. The brakes have very little feel and require far too much pressure for my liking.
Wind noise is nil on normal days, Tuesday was crazy windy and although the car was moving all over the highway I wouldn't hear the gusts inside the car. Tire noise can be heard, although my tester is equipped with winter tires that may be louder than the OEM all-seasons the car comes with.
The Camry is available in four-cylinder, Hybrid and V6 engine choices and after a week with the V6 it would be hard to convince me to buy anything else. Funnily enough I was supposed to drive a Hybrid version in a few weeks from now but it's been cancelled unfortunately so I cannot compare real world.
That V6 engine is so smooth and effortless and even in our cold climate I managed to average 8.9 L/100 km over the course of the week. Looking back on other V6 sedans I have tested I was surprised to see that I averaged 8.8 L/100 km in a 300-horsepower Chrysler 200 AWD recently, so this isn't extra amazing but still efficient enough in my books.
In fact I drove over 400 km and put only $35 in fuel in the car, thanks to the lower gas prices and the efficiency of this car it was an inexpensive week of commuting!
If I were buying a Camry though I think I would skip the sport-tuned suspension and look for something a little more compliant, perhaps the XLE trim instead of the XSE. The car really isn't sporty so why pretend? Perhaps a good set of performance brake pads would help the cause but as it sits those brakes really let this car down.