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2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2014

Going green doesn't always mean you have to go small. It also doesn't have to be the cause of major sacrifices, such as the need to closely watch your range or falling behind during highway merging. Few cars prove this like the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which manages to combine all of the Camry's normal benefits -- reliability, safety, practicality and reasonable pricing -- with a fuel-efficient hybrid drivetrain.

As a result, the Camry Hybrid has proven popular over the years -- and with good reason. But the Camry's longtime hold on the midsize hybrid market is shrinking. New competitors, such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, have emerged in recent years, offering a similar promise of family-sedan practicality combined with hybrid-car fuel economy.

Still, we think the Camry Hybrid remains worthy of your consideration -- especially after this year's major updates, which include new styling, new trim levels, an enhanced interior, new features and an improved driving experience.

What's New for 2015?

Like the standard Camry, the Camry Hybrid has been dramatically updated for 2015 -- though its revisions stop short of a full redesign. Headlining the changes for 2015 are a revised interior, new styling, new trim levels and a few new features.

What We Like

New and improved ride quality; revised interior; excellent practicality; reasonable pricing; roomy interior

What We Don't

Rivals get better mileage; a little pricey; driving experience could still be a little more engaging

How Much?

$27,600-$30,800

Fuel Economy

The Camry Hybrid offers one engine: a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, mated to a standard continuously variable automatic transmission. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fuel economy reaches 43 miles per gallon in the city or 39 mpg on the highway with the base-level LE model, or 40 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the upscale XLE and SE models -- a function of those trims' larger wheels.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is now offered in three trim levels: base-level LE, sporty SE and upscale XLE.

The LE ($27,600) features automatic headlights, keyless access with push-button starting, a backup camera, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch center screen with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, a power driver's seat, cruise control and a USB/iPod interface.

The sporty SE ($28,800) adds bold touches such as a more aggressive grille, 17-in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and slightly revised suspension that's tuned for better handling and roadholding.

Topping the range is the Camry Hybrid XLE ($30,800), which adds features to the LE model's list of equipment. Standard items include 17-in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an improved version of Toyota's Entune system with satellite radio.

Options include a larger (7-in) touchscreen, a power sunroof, a navigation system, a wireless cell phone charger, a 10-speaker JBL audio system, Toyota's Safety Connect system, which includes emergency assistance, stolen vehicle notification and a high-tech safety package with automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.

Safety

All Camry Hybrid models are equipped with the usual safety items: anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and side-curtain airbags. Camry Hybrid models also feature front and rear side airbags, along with a standard backup camera.

Options include a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and automatic high beam control. Also optional is Toyota's new Safety Connect system, which provides emergency assistance and stolen vehicle notification.

In government crash tests, the 2015 Camry earned a perfect 5-star overall rating -- a score comprised of 4-star frontal and rollover ratings, along with a 5-star side-impact rating. The Camry also earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Behind the Wheel

The Camry Hybrid drives a lot like the standard Camry -- and that's a good thing. It offers a smooth, comfortable ride, a roomy interior and a surprisingly noise-free experience -- all with minimal intrusion from the car's hybrid system. In fact, we suspect you might not even realize you're driving a hybrid until you get to the pump and discover how much money it's saving you.

Of course, all that is expected, since we're used to driving the standard Camry, which boasts each of these traits, too. What we didn't expect was the vastly improved driving experience for the 2015 model year. For 2015, Toyota recalibrated the suspension and enhanced the Camry's driving characteristics -- and it shows. The car is now more fun than ever, taking corners with surprising ease and stability. It's still not quite up to the level of the sporty Mazda6, but it's getting closer to the top of the midsize sedan market in terms of driving pleasure.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid -- The Fusion Hybrid is a little cheaper than the Camry Hybrid, and it offers slightly better gas mileage. We also prefer its styling, even after the updates to the Camry for 2015.

2015 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Accord Hybrid is more expensive than the Camry Hybrid -- but its 50 mpg is unrivaled in the midsize sedan segment. It has more equipment, too. If we were buying a car, the Accord Hybrid would be near the top of our list.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid -- Though the Sonata Hybrid is around $1,000 less than the Camry, it can't reach the Toyota's fuel economy. It also still uses the outgoing model's design.

Used Toyota Avalon Hybrid -- Although the Avalon Hybrid only recently went on sale, used models are starting to make their way into the marketplace. Consider the Avalon Hybrid if you don't think the Camry Hybrid offers enough room -- or enough luxury.

AutoTrader's Advice

The Camry Hybrid is an excellent choice for shoppers interested in a fuel-efficient midsize sedan. We'd go for an LE model with sparse options, as we think it represents the best value in the lineup. With that said, a well-equipped XLE also offers a compelling fuel-efficient sedan with high-end luxury equipment.

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2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader