It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a Lexus. No, it’s the new Camry XLE. For those with less than 20/20 vision, you could be forgiven for thinking Lexus had misbranded their latest fleet. Originally promised the Lincoln MKC, our disappointment at its delay (due to servicing) was replaced with surprising satisfaction when the 2015 Toyota Camry XLE in Celestial Silver Metallic rolled up in its place.
The Toyota Camry ranks as America’s top-selling midsize sedan for a reason, as anyone who has owned one of these reliable beasts will relate, and which we will endeavour to describe below.
The seventh incarnation is available in four models: the economy-minded LE, the sports buff LE, the even sportier XSE, and our model, the premium XLE. Improved aesthetics, dynamic drive experience and comprehensive safety and tech components have seen 2,000 new parts added to the vehicle. So, let’s take a look at a few dozen (or so!) of them.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the 2015 Camry XLE takes this maxim to heart with a bold new exterior and beefed-up fascia, including a Lexus-esque grille atop 17-inch alloy wheels with super chrome paint. Visibility isn’t an issue thanks to LED daytime running lights and LED low/hi beam headlamps with auto on/off function. Baby got back, too! The rear of the car enjoys dual chrome-tipped exhaust and spoiler, while a power tilt and slide moon roof takes pride of place up top and heated outside power mirrors to the side.
In case you didn’t get it, this is one sporty embodiment of the Camry, measuring 1.8 inches longer and 0.4 inches wider than the outgoing model (2012-2014), though wheelbase has remained unchanged.
Almost every nook and cranny of our Ash Leather interior model had received an upgrade, and we slid comfortably into ultra-plush leather-trimmed and heated front seats with 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way power passenger seat. Soft-to-the-touch leather also adorns the steering wheel, which comprises audio and Bluetooth controls. Dual-zone climate control, illuminated doorsill enhancements and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats are welcome additions.
The centre stack, and dash, also receives a facelift to include two 12V power outlets and charging bin for compatible devices. Another noticeable change is the 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display that rests between 3D gauges.
It may not be as refined as the Lexus LS, but with a price tag almost $50,000 cheaper, we’re not complaining, and we’re pretty sure you won’t either.
The XLE, along with its sporty sibling, the XSE, houses a beefy 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 6-speed automatic transmission to output 268 horsepower and achieve 248 lb.-ft. of torque. If the power becomes too much, switch to Eco mode for a decidedly less zippy experience, but enjoyable nonetheless. Whichever mode you choose, the vehicle’s handling and response are nothing to be sneezed at, and quick maneuvers are a cinch.
Did you hear that? No, of course you didn’t, because Toyota has kindly improved sound suppression in their 2015 Camry models.
Uneven surfaces are no match for the reliable chassis, though do keep in mind this is not an all-terrain vehicle, so treat it as such and you won’t be disappointed. The power assist front and solid rear disc brakes add to the car’s reliability and safety.
The engine’s Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence technology provides excellent acceleration via optimal intake and exhaust clamshaft timing. EPA stats promise 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, for a combined average of 25 mpg, a number we can vouch for after a week on the road.
No need to install any fancy technological extras because this four-door has everything a self-respecting 21st century motorist has come to expect in a modern sedan. First up we have the ever-important Star Safety System that includes enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology. Want more? How about a tire pressure monitor system? Or smart key system with push button start and wireless charging? The XLE has these too, in addition to pre-collision system, lane departure alert and dynamic radar cruise control
On the security front, an anti-theft system with alarm accompanies the Safety Connect features. What is Safety Connect, I hear you ask? It combines emergency assist, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance and automatic collision notification. This service is available by subscription, with a free 1-year trial period included. Safety components not requiring subscription are also useful, particularly the blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, which should come standard on all cars. Unruly kids – or super-intelligent pets – are kept secure with the lower anchor and tether for children.
Moving on to audio we encounter the impressive Entune Premium JBL audio system with navigation and App suits, giving my Spotify account a healthy workout during the test week. Our Entune Multimedia Bundle came with 7-inch high-res touch screen display, AM/FM CD player, MP3/WMA playback capability, 10 JBL GreenEdge speakers in 8 locations including subwoofer and amplifier, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition and so much more than this sentence can squeeze in.
Setting buyers back a neat $35,944, our test car proved why Camry remains so popular in possibly the most competitive segment in the industry. Heavyweights from the Accord and Altima, to the Fusion, Mazda 6 and new Malibu, should watch their backs.
In regards to how this model stacks up against more luxury competitors like the Lexus LS, it doesn’t. But the exterior comes close, and banishes any notion that the Camry is a dowdy choice for dreary drivers.
With tech features out the wazoo, safety features for days, and dependable handling and fuel-efficiency, the sporty 2015 Camry XLE might just have the big boys running scared. You’ve been warned, Lexus!
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog