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First Drive Review: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6

by Paul Strauss
First Drive Review: 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6zoom in

    2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6

  • Powertrain: 268hp, 3.5L V6, 6-speed automatic transmission
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 21/31 (25 combined)
  • Curb Weight (lb): 3,480
  • Wheelbase (in): 109.3
  • Total Length (in): 190.9
  • Width (in): 71.7
  • Base Price (USD): $31,370
  • Price as Tested (USD): $35,768

The Toyota Camry has long been one of the most popular cars made. Having sold over 10 million vehicles since it first launched, it would be easy for Toyota to rest on their laurels. However, just three years after the Camry’s last major redesign, they’ve launched a mid-cycle refresh which is so comprehensive that over 1,900 parts in the car have changed from the prior year’s model. In fact, every body panel has been changed except the roof. Sitting at the top of the Camry line are the XLE – the most luxurious variant, and the XSE, which offer many premium features, but is more sporty.

I recently had the opportunity to take the 2015 Camry lineup out for a few hours, and I’m happy to say that these are the best Camrys I’ve ever driven. While many of the improvements are in the styling department, its greatest achievement is in its handling. Thanks to changes in the body construction, including numerous additional spot welds, the 2015 feels more planted and rigid than any Camry I’ve driven before. A sport-tuned suspension keeps the XSE model stable in turns, and its V6 engine pushes out 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. or torque, which was plenty of get-up-and-go for everyday driving, with a little extra kick for those times when you feel like opening it up. If you’re willing to trade off power for fuel economy, and lose a few of the bells and whistles, you can get into the 4-cylinder version of the XSE for about $5000 less. I was also pleasantly surprised at how connected and responsive the steering felt, which can sometimes be a crapshoot with electric power steering systems.

Visually, the 2015 Camry is much more athletic looking than the 2014, with a wider grille and wider wheels, and the XSE ups the sporty factor with its honeycomb grille, and 18″ alloy wheels. Surrounding the grille are sculpted LED headlights along with LED daytime running lights. Around back, you’ll find a small spoiler atop the trunk lid, as well as dual exhaust with chrome tips.

Inside, the Camry XSE is outfitted with leather-trimmed Ultrasuede, heated front seats, along with 8-way power adjustments on the driver’s side, and 4-way power adjustments for the passenger. The contrast stitching on the seats and door panels is a nice touch, as is the satin chrome finished trim on the dash, doors and center console. Improvements to body insulation have made the cabin quieter than ever, and there’s plentiful leg and head room throughout – even for rear seat passengers with long legs. Speaking of the rear seat, it’s got a split 60/40 folding capability, which gives the car even more storage flexibility than its already spacious trunk.

Other features in the XSE include push button start, a backup camera, dual-zone climate control, rear seat vents, a Homelink universal remote for garage doors, and a wireless charging bay for Qi-compatible smartphones and cases. You also get paddle shifters, a sport steering wheel, and a TFT multi-information display nestled between a large and easy to read tachometer and speedometer. Overhead is a power tilt/sliding moonroof.

Also of note is the optional Entune Premium package ($805) highlighted by a JBL 10-speaker audio system, which offers incredibly clean sound regardless of music genre, and has some of the best imaging I’ve heard in a moderately-priced car sound system. The system includes a 7-inch touchscreen display with Navigation, SiriusXM, and app support. If you opt for the technology package ($750), you’ll get a suite of nice safety features, including pre-collision warning, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. The blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic option ($500) is also a worthwhile investment.

2015_toyota_camry_xse_17zoom in

In my brief time with the Camry XSE, I was very pleased with my driving experience. The car has very assured driving characteristics, and Toyota has done a very good job elevating the finishes and design to feel more luxurious and sporty. If you’re in the market for a solid and practical daily driver that’s going to treat you and your passengers well, while benefitting from Toyota’s long history of reliability, the 2015 Camry is well worth considering. If you’ve owned a Camry before, 2015 is the right model year to upgrade.

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