Today: Jul 04 , 2020

2015 Auto Corner: Toyota Camry Hybrid

27 June 2015  

On the continent of Efficiency lies the nation of Practicality, and high above the land in his strong stone castle reigns the King of Economy. Guess what car he drives? The Toyota Camry Hybrid, 2015 edition.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Personality: An Environmental Law Professor who champions fiscal responsibility

Best Gizmo: The hybrid synergy drive system of course

Most Annoying Feature: The gas mileage comes in slightly below the competition

MPG (as tested):  40 city / 38 highway for an overall combined of 40 mpg

Performance: More than adequate for a four door hybrid

Cars we smoked at stoplights: Not very many, but we certainly burned less petrol in the acceleration!

0-60: 7.6 seconds (as tested)

How Fast Is That? Decent… especially for a car this heavy

How Much? Base price is $27,995 but options can take you to almost $40k

Price as tested: $32,133 with the added XLE trim level and the Entune Premium JBL audio system with navigation.

What option should I splurge on? The wireless charging is awesome and only $75

Serious Contenders? Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the Kia Optima Hybrid

For 2015, Toyota made the surprising decision to significantly update the Camry Hybrid only 3 years after a major refresh. With increased welding points and exterior style enhancements, the Camry Hybrid keeps the competition in check and customers satisfied.

Few consumers would argue the practicality and economy of the Toyota Camry. For the better part of the past two decades, this four-door has risen above the competition in terms of efficiency and popularity within suburban americana. Over the past ten years, Toyota’s ability to engineer hybrid powertrains has been (nearly) perfected. The 2015 Camry Hybrid is no different. This sedan balances efficiency and value with a sub-$30k price point and an estimated 40 miles per gallon.

From the outside, the front grill is the most noticeable enhancement with a lower stance, redesigned look, and a hood bump that is normally reserved for larger engines containing turbo-chargers. From the rear, the Camry takes style cues from it’s smaller sibling, the Corolla. Sitting in the drivers seat, the dash board is placed to display speed and energy usage. The old tachometer from years past has been replaced with a dial displaying the power plant status of “charging,” “economy,” and “power”. The center console wins few design awards but adequately provides access to the 7 inch touch screen display.

A sedan with room for four adults and a couple of golf bags in the trunk, the Camry Hybrid has legs to go over 500 miles between gas stations.With other hybrid cars, the trunk can be so small it serves almost no purpose. Hey, they have to put that honking battery somewhere, right? Well, the 2015 Camry has 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space, more than enough for strollers, golf bags, or whatever else might find it’s way in there.

So, how does all of this hybrid stuff work, you ask? Well, the geeks…I mean, engineers, pair a 2.5L 4 cylinder gas engine with an electrical motor to provide 200 horsepower and plenty of torque. The transmission is a CVT or Continuous Variable Transmission. In “non-engineer” speak, that is translated as “weird sounding but uber efficient.” Critics point to the unnerving whinny sound during acceleration from the transmission, but the bottom line is this - acceleration is adequate and economical.

Carrying a price tag of $27,995 before options and accessories, the hybrid version adds a $3,800 price premium over the base four cylinder Camry. For those of us who struggled with middle school math, the price jump makes it necessary to drive this four-door for over 8 years to make up the 13 mile per gallon savings you reap with the hybrid. Of course, if you drive cars until they quit, or you plan to give this Camry to your elementary school daughter when she turns 16, this just might be perfect. If you intend to only keep the car a few years, look to the base Camry with a four cylinder engine and estimated 35 mpg on the highway.

Honesty reigns supreme throughout the nation of Practicality, so I must disclose this… it really isn’t overly fun to drive. I am not saying it is dull; however, this is not your sports car. If you find someone behind the wheel with a giant smile on his face, it is probably because he won the lottery. The two most common complaints from Toyota Hybrid customers are poor steering performance and unbalanced braking. It is with great pleasure I report massive improvements in both areas. Perfection, no, but the steering feels similar to the rack and pinion of yesteryear and the braking more uniform thanks to a new dual stage brake booster. 

A commanding presence on the stages of practicality and efficiency, the 2015 Camry Hybrid fixes minor flaws from the previous design. If you are looking for a daily commuter built to last for years, this just might be the four door for you. Plus, you will be driving a car fit for a King, right?

 Each month John Kehlenbeck tests a worthy car. From the mundane stats of zero-to-60 time all the way to the incredibly important aspects of a vehicle, like cup holder location and bluetooth integration, Kehlenbeck dissects the details to give you the information you actually care about. While not driving, Kehlenbeck can be found half-napping behind his computer wishing he was back in his home state of Michigan, where raw muscle cars were born and snow and ice abound.

© 2015 John Kehlenbeck, Horsepower Auto Reviews


John Kehlenbeck

Each month John Kehlenbeck tests a worthy car. From the mundane stats of zero-to-60 time all the way to the incredibly important aspects of a vehicle, like cup holder location and bluetooth integration, Kehlenbeck dissects the details to give you the information you actually care about.