When you think of the Toyota Camry, most people think of a nice family sedan to commute to work. Maybe take the family to a movie or run a few errands on the weekend? Toyota is infusing their entire lineup with sporty models because the brand’s boss, Akio Toyoda, wants to change the image of the Japanese automaker.
The 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 is a good example of how his influence is filtering down to the best-selling car in America.
This week we test drove the sporty, 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6. We got to see how it stacks up against others in this segment.
The Toyota Camry receives a complete remodel for 2015. It gets all-new exterior styling, improved handling, and a revised interior with more equipment and improved materials. The XSE trim is a new model that combines the sport of the SE and luxury of the XLE.
Features & Options
Toyota Camry XSE ($31,370) comes with leather-trim, sport front seats and ultrasuede inserts, heated front seats with more aggressive side bolstering, four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, and HD radio.
Outside it gets a black mesh grille, firmer suspension tuning, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and LED running lamps. It features technology upgrades like a 7-inch Entune touchscreen interface, a navigation system, Qi wireless smartphone charging, and a backup camera.
Options on the XSE tester included premium audio with navigation ($805), Blind Spot Monitor ($500), and the Technology Package ($750). That includes: lane-departure warning system, a pre-collision warning, radar cruise control, and auto high-beam.
It also came with illuminated door sills ($299), remote start ($499) and special Ruby Flare Pearl exterior paint ($395).
Total MSRP: $35,668.
Upon entering the cabin of the Camry XSE, we were greeted with door sills that lit up, comfortable, sport leather seats, and the ultrasuede inserts with extra side bolstering. The interior features contemporary styling that’s simple yet with an elegant feel.
The abundance of contrasting stitching on the seats, doors, dash, center console, shifter boot, and steering wheel adds to the ambiance.
The climate control and premium audio was simple and easy to use; not always the case in some automaker’s upper trim levels.
The 2015 Toyota Camry features one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins in the midsize sedan segment. The backseats offer enough room for taller adults and a rear-facing child seat can be installed. It will fit easily in the back.
There’s also lots of storage and cubby holes up front to store things. Space in the trunk, at 15.4 cubic feet, is average for a midsize sedan.
Engine & Fuel Mileage
The Toyota Camry XSE comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that we tested earlier this year.
However, our Camry this week came with the optional 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The sedan features a front-wheel drive configuration and a six-speed automatic, with Eco/Sport modes and steering wheel paddle shifters.
With the V6, Toyota Camry XSE gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21/31 city/highway and 25 combined. The mpg rating puts it on par with the competition.
As is our practice, we took the Toyota Camry XSE into the mountains, west of Denver, to see how the V6 handles the altitude and the elevation change. Between Denver, which is 5,280 ft. above sea level and Evergreen, which is 8,500 ft. above sea level, is where I live.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine delivered above average acceleration for a family sedan. Transmission upshifts are responsive, which is noteworthy, given that some competitor’s automatic transmissions are lethargic for the sake of fuel economy.
We kept the 6-speed automatic in Eco for a relaxed driving experience but dropped it in Sport mode. We used the steering wheel shifters for extra engagement while passing trucks on I-70.
The sport-tuned suspension is responsive to driver inputs and fairly composed when going around tight mountain curves. This XSE dials up driver engagement if you have an itch to push the Camry harder. It’s not as sporty as other rivals like the Mazda 6, but its not a rolling couch potato either.
Toyota Camry XLE V6 will sprint from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars in the class. Fuel mileage suffers if you use that available power, however. The XSE’s 225/45R18 tires do provide a bit more grip than the standard Camry’s smaller meats; an advantage that’s intangible to the average driver.
The sport suspension delivers pleasant ride quality. It’s deliberate in quick maneuvers, but the electric power steering conveys very little of that tactile information to the driver.
The 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 is a good value for sedan shoppers because of Toyota’s traditional strengths of build quality, reliability, and resale value at trade-in. Camry is number one for a reason and delivers with a competent, quiet, and comfortable sedan.
For the average family, the XSE will deliver a satisfying commute and be a good family hauler.
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The XSE dials up excitement for those seeking a ride that’s a little higher on the fun-to-drive meter than the four-cylinder and/or other Camry trim levels.
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