The midsize sedan field has changed drastically within the past few years. New models are now standing in the spotlight, while older and more established models are beginning to fall flat. The Toyota Camry is beginning to feel some of the pressure. While it still is one of the top selling vehicles in the U.S., the likes of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion are eating into its sales. Toyota knew it was time to make some changes to keep the Camry on top. The result is the 2015 Camry. I spent a week in the Camry SE Hybrid to see if these changes help or hurt.
The 2015 Camry is quite a departure in terms of design. Whereas previous-generations were more reserved and somewhat boring to look at, the 2015 model is quite out there. From a long, slim chrome bar paired with a massive mesh grille up front, to character lines along the side, this Camry has style. A set of grey, 17-inch wheels and hybrid badging finish off the finish off the Hybrid SE. I’m not to keen on the Camry’s overall design, but I have to admit this is the most exciting Camry in a while.
SE models get a set of sport seats with what Toyota calls ‘sport fabric material’ - a combination of their SofTex vinyl and patterned fabric. Finding a comfortable position in the front is no problem thanks to good support from the seats and a number of adjustments - power for the driver, manual for the passenger. The back seat has no shortage of head and legroom for even the tallest of passengers.
See Page 2 Powertrain and Ride Impressions
One item Toyota did not dare mess with is the hybrid powertrain. Like on the larger Avalon Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid uses a 2.5L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric motor to produce a total output 200 horsepower. This powertrain is paired to a CVT. There are also three different drive modes which varies power output:
- Drive: Goes between electric, gas, and hybrid modes automatically.
- Eco: Restricts throttle response and use of the A/C compressor
- EV: Runs the vehicle solely on electric power if the vehicle is under 25 MPH
The Camry Hybrid is quite the potent vehicle. Leaving a stop light, I was shocked at how it was able to leap off and get moving at a quick rate. Maybe it was due to me thinking I was driving a Prius XL. But the reason for this fast response is due to the 199 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor which is available from 0 to 1,500 rpm. More impressive was how the Camry Hybrid did around town and on the freeway as the powertrain was able to get up to speed at a reasonable rate. I had to remind myself that this a hybrid and not a basic four-cylinder model. Fuel economy is rated at 40 City/38 Highway/40 Combined for the hybrid. My average for the week was around 37 MPG. This was due to frigid weather I was driving in.
At the end of my week with the Camry Hybrid SE, I felt that most of these changes have helped the Camry. It may not be the most exciting to look at or to drive, but Toyota focused on improving the basics which will help it in the sales chart. As for the SE trim, I think its a half-baked idea. They have the looks down, now Toyota just needs to work on making the driving a tiny bit more sporting.
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Camry Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: Hybrid SE
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (2.5L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 105 kW Electric Motor)
Driveline: CVT, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 156 @ 5,700 (Gas), 200 (Total Output)
Torque @ RPM: 156 @ 4,500 (Gas), 199 @ 0-1,500 (Electric)
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/38/40
Curb Weight: 3,565 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
Base Price: $27,995
As Tested Price: $32,987 (Includes $825.00 Destination Charge)
Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite - $1,300.00
Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof - $915.00
Remote Start - $499.00
Clear Protective Film - $395.00
VIP RS3200 Plus Security System - $359.00
Four Season Floor Mat Package - $325.00
Illuminated Door Sill Enhancements - $299.00
Wireless Charging for Electronics - $75.00