The generational lifecycle of Toyota cars and trucks is usually very consistent. Every five or six years, the company typically debuts a new version of a given car and, apart from some mild updates of a chrome strip here or a reshaped headlight design there, leaves it alone until the next redesign. The 2015 Toyota Camry represents a significant departure from the norm, however, as Toyota has thoroughly overhauled it a mere three years after a complete redesign. Whatever the reasons are for the change -- a good guess would be that Toyota feels the need to have a more competitive Camry this year -- the end result is certainly good news if you're shopping for a 2015 midsize family sedan.
The Camry's changes are obvious on the outside, where all but the roof has been restyled. The grille is bigger, more prominent and indicative of the pricier Toyota Avalon and its Lexus corporate cousins. In profile, the Camry is more sculpted and less slablike, and the car's rear styling has been smoothed out. Overall, we think the Camry looks more refined, premium and grown up. Inside, the Camry's overall design and generous passenger space remain unchanged, but Toyota has improved the quality of plastics -- especially on the center console -- while most of the door panels are now covered in padded simulated leather or suede (depending on the trim level). The buttons and knobs for the climate controls are bigger and less toylike than before and, as a result, are not only easier to use but imbue a higher-end look and feel. Plus, every Camry now gets classier gauges and a user-friendly Entune touchscreen interface.
The four-cylinder and V6 engines remain unchanged, but Toyota did make significant improvements to the Camry's body structure and suspension tuning. The result is a more buttoned-down, confident driving experience that Toyota says its customers have been requesting. This latest Camry still isn't what we would call a sporty family sedan like a Mazda 6 or Ford Fusion, but it is more responsive and generally better to drive.
That also applies to the popular SE trim, which not only dials up the driving engagement factor further but also boasts more aggressive styling cues. For 2015, though, it is joined by an XSE trim that for the first time allows customers to pair the SE's visual and suspension enhancements with the more luxurious XLE's greater comfort and convenience features. This provides a greater amount of customer choice and creates two distinct flavors of Camry that makes it stand out in the family sedan segment.
Indeed, standing out is something that the Camry has not done in a very long time. If anything, its previously so-so interior quality and forgettable driving experience made it stand out from top-rated family sedans like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima in a negative way. The 2015 Toyota Camry, however, corrects many of its previous deficiencies, adds a little more verve and, although we wouldn't go so far as to proclaim it the class leader, places it squarely within the best-in-class pack.