Automakers do a lot of testing before a vehicle hits dealer showrooms and because we live in Colorado, we get to see many different vehicles being tested at the higher altitudes on I-70.
This week we took the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE and went on a little chase of a new Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S that was camouflaged and being tested in the Colorado mountains.
It was a great test of the hybrid’s power, chasing the more powerful sports car.
“If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway,” should be the motto at Toyota. They took the most successful sedan in America, the Camry, and did a total redesign for 2015. Highlights include all-new exterior styling, improved handling, a revised interior, with more equipment, and upgraded materials.
Features & Options
This 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE ($27,995) came standard with a backup camera, push button start, dual zone climate control, heated power outside mirrors, 17-inch graphite finished sport wheels, and projector beam headlights.
This tester came with the optional Premiun sound with navigation ($1,300) and Entune multimedia. There was also a 7-inch high-res touch screen and HD radio. A power moonroof ($915), remote start ($499), and illuminated door sill plates ($299) rounded out the options.
Total MSRP with destination: $32,233.
Everything inside is new on the 2015 Toyota Camry, from the seating surfaces to the soft-touch material used throughout. The Toyota Camry Hybrid SE comes with fabric upholstery in an interesting Louis Vuitton-like checkerboard pattern.
We didn’t much like it, but that’s just personal preference.
In the back, the rear seat is split 60/40, and the passenger side (the larger “60” portion) folds down for added cargo capacity. We needed to put some items in the trunk this week and it offered a respectable 13.1 cubic feet capacity.
The new Toyota Camry Hybrid features comfortable front and rear seating, good outward visibility, plus a smooth and quiet ride. There is plenty of room up front for even the tallest drivers as head and shoulder room is plentiful.
Toyota didn’t mess with . . .
the powertrain – it’s the same as the previous generation Camry. The system couples a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor.
The engine is rated at 156 horsepower and 156 lb. ft. of torque – the motor is rated at 141 horsepower and 199 lb. ft. of torque for a combined output of 200 horsepower. The Camry Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission rated at 40/38 city/highway with 40 mpg combined.
Toyota did tweak . . .
the driving dynamics.
We were coming up I-70, into the mountains, and that’s when we saw it. We spotted a new Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S with full camouflage.
We sped up to catch it.
Toyota tweaked the Camry’s body structure and suspension in the hybrid and we could tell as we chased the high-performance Mercedes-Benz.
Now this wasn’t a high-speed chase, but we followed the GT S up I-70 and into the high country. We had a lot of fun doing so, however!
The sport-tuned SE version offers a more responsive and engaging feel, especially in the corners. As we tailed the Mercedes-Benz, we felt confident in the SE’s ability to maneuver through traffic and keep up. Thanks to Toyota’s careful suspension tuning, it grips the road well and the ride is mostly undisturbed by bumps and ruts.
We finally had to break off the trail and go back home as the GT S was likely heading all the way up Vail Pass and beyond. We didn’t get to use the all-electric mode on the ride up the hill, but we did later in the week as we drove in the city. Acceleration is smooth whether in all-electric mode or using the gasoline engine.
Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain is one of the most sophisticated and refined systems of its kind. The transition from all-electric mode to the gasoline engine is less noticeable in the Camry Hybrid than in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, we recently tested.
The brakes, which generate electricity whenever used, were the smoothest we have experienced in a hybrid.
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The redesigned 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE gets spiffy new interior features with upgraded materials, all-new exterior styling, and improved handling. The mid-size hybrid is competent, quiet, and comfortable. Acceleration is strong for a midsize, non-premium-brand hybrid sedan.
The hybrid gets excellent fuel mileage, but there are others in this segment that still do better.
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