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2015 Toyota Camry XSE: Real World Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2015

The Toyota Camry isn't fully redesigned for 2015, but it's close. Last year's engines and transmissions remain the same, but other updates are significant. The exterior styling is totally new, the interior has been updated and a number of new features have been added. There's also a sporty new XSE trim level, which emphasizes driving pleasure in addition to the traditional Camry values such as dependability and conservative design. We recently spent a week behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Toyota Camry XSE to find out how it measures up against its competition. Here's what we thought.

Handsome Exterior Styling

Although we don't often spend a lot of time commenting on a subjective quality, such as exterior styling, we felt compelled to point out that we really like the look of the latest Camry. While the 2012-2014 model's proportions were slightly awkward, the latest version has very few visual drawbacks. One tester, Tommy, compared the exterior styling to the upscale Lexus ES, while other drivers showered praise on the sedan's looks and called it "much improved" and "excellent." On the outside, this looks like an all-new, extremely handsome car.

Only OK Inside

Unfortunately, the exterior's massive overhaul didn't quite carry over to the interior. Yes, the 2015 Camry's cabin is updated in comparison to last year's model, but the interior revisions aren't quite as dramatic or as sweeping as the exterior updates. The result is a nice interior with an improved design, but includes many of the same mediocre materials as the outgoing model.

One driver, Ben, mentioned that he found many of the interior plastics to be hard and inexpensive compared to materials used in rival models. Another tester, Dwight, pointed out the Camry's poor-quality headliner and suggested that there isn't enough contrast in the interior to justify our test car's $35,000 MSRP.

To us, however, this isn't a deal breaker. The interior is good, but not great, and the car's fantastic exterior styling quickly overshadows its could-be-better cabin.

What about the XSE?

One of the Camry's biggest updates this year is the new-for-2015 XSE model: a sporty, top-of-the-line trim that combines the XLE's high-end features and the SE's bolder appearance. This year, however, it isn't just about appearance. The XSE's steering has also been tightened for increased responsiveness, while suspension is enhanced for improved handling.

The result is a midsize sedan that surprised us all. Dwight mentioned that the steering is "tight and responsive," which is high praise for the normally staid Camry. Our site editor, Brian, specifically praised the Camry's excellent handling, while virtually everyone who drove or rode inside the car appreciated its engine power, acceleration and smooth shifting. In other words: The Camry is no longer just a fun-looking midsize sedan. For 2015, the Camry XSE is a truly fun-to-drive midsize sedan, worthy of being mentioned among the likes of sporty rivals like the latest Mazda6.

Other Stuff

Being a Camry, this car is about more than just performance and styling. Given the Camry's certain popularity, it's also worth noting all the other stuff that drivers will encounter every day: seat comfort, safety features and everything in between.

As far as safety features go, we're pleased with the Camry's latest updates. They include a standard backup camera, along with options such as a forward-collision alert system and lane-departure warning. Overall, this car is as well-equipped as virtually any midsize sedan rival.

In our opinion, the Camry's comfort level is better than ever. The seats are luxury-car soft, while the ride is smooth and easygoing. Even the transmission seems to be tuned for a smoother driving experience. It's the same story in the rear seat, too, which feels wider and more pleasant than ever before. And then there's the little stuff: We like the high door armrest, the fluid-moving stereo knobs and the suede seat inserts that give the XSE's interior an especially high-end touch.

Our Take

Although we never fully warmed up to the 2012-2014 model, the 2015 Toyota Camry has taken its predecessor's drawbacks and improved on all of them. We like the latest Camry's styling, we appreciate its interior updates and we love the XSE model's performance. We also like the Camry's safety equipment and ride comfort. Combine these items with some typical Camry traits, such as low running costs, long-term reliability and excellent resale value, and it's clear that the latest Camry has regained its spot as one of the top midsize sedans on the market.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Camry XSE: Real World Review - Autotrader