Posted Apr 16th 2014 11:00AM
With a dozen years atop the nation's best-selling car charts, you might think that there wouldn't be a lot of incentive for Toyota to rework its Camry, particularly so early in the life of the current model. But despite its unassailable sales totals, the midsize sedan has come in for substantial criticism for its milquetoast dynamics, piecemeal interiors and bland design.
As part of CEO Akio Toyoda's mantra to build more exciting cars, the 2015 Camry has arrived with a fresh new look and content that goes far beyond the Japanese automaker's typically slight mid-cycle redesigns. Featuring some 2,000 new parts, the 2015 Camry casts a 1.8-inch longer shadow and stretches across a widened track (0.4 inches). And it won't be just the widened track that should help deliver a more dynamic performance – Toyota is citing a stiffer chassis thanks to additional spot welds along with a rejiggered suspension, retuned electric power steering and a new two-stage brake booster for improved braking feel.
A new XSE trim promises the sportiest performance yet, including model-specific shock absorbers and springs, stiffer bushings, unique stability control programming and 18-inch wheels to go along with a unique front end treatment featuring mesh grille inserts and a revised fascia.
But Camry sales have rarely been driven by performance – millions of the things have been purchased due to the family sedan's ironclad reputation for attributes like reliability, strong resale value, comfort and ease of use. The latter two aspects often help secure the former, and to that end, Toyota has made a lot of changes to the Camry's interior, both seen and unseen. Visible changes include a redesigned gauge cluster with a new 4.2-inch TFT display, richer materials, a redesigned center stack and a console tray with available wireless charging. Hidden alterations include 30-percent more sound insulation to help deliver a serene ride.
Despite all these changes, the Camry's powertrains appear to be largely carryover, with an available 2.5-litre four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6 engine, both yoked to conventional six-speed automatic transmissions. The Camry Hybrid will continue to be offered with a 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and electronic continuously variable transmission. As previously reported, the Camry Hybrid is joined by a new SE trim with a firmer suspension and retuned steering. So far, Toyota is keeping performance metrics close to the vest – there's no word yet on power, acceleration or fuel economy figures.
Most of the discussion coming out of today's New York Auto Show is likely to be centered on the Camry's very different looks – particularly in sportier XSE trim. With scowling headlamps, gaping new lower fascia and a sharply creased hood, this new model as far more attitude than its predecessor.
What do you think? Have a look in our gallery above, then vote in our poll.