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2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: Some competitors are more engaging to drive, yet still comfortable.

Research

Interior: The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is blessed with one of the most comfortable and spacious cabins in the midsize family sedan segment. Even tall adults will find plenty of space above their heads and in front of their knees, while a rear-facing car seat will fit in back with ease. The fixed rear headrests make it difficult to properly secure a front-facing child seat, though.

Up front, the center stack's buttons are big, easy to read at a glance and glove-friendly without being comically large or ugly. This is especially true of the sensibly designed climate controls. Every Camry Hybrid gets a standard 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen interface, which controls the audio system, available smartphone-integrated apps and the optional navigation system. Not many of these modern interfaces are truly user-friendly, but Entune is one of the better and simpler ones available.

With 13.1 cubic feet, the trunk offers respectable capacity for a hybrid sedan (hybrids typically sacrifice some space to their under-floor battery packs). The rear seat is split 60/40, and the passenger side (the larger "60" portion) folds down for added cargo capacity.

Body: The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is offered in base LE, sporty SE and luxury XLE trim levels.

The LE Hybrid features 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch display and the base Entune Audio system, which includes a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface.

The SE Hybrid adds a unique grille, black headlight surrounds, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, sport fabric seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and silver interior accents.

The XLE Hybrid includes the LE features along with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED running lights, a chrome exhaust tip, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat and Entune Audio Plus, which adds satellite radio and HD radio.

Entune Audio Plus is optional on the LE and SE. The SE can also be had with a sunroof, a Qi wireless cell phone charger and the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App suite, which includes Entune Audio Plus features along with a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and various integrated smartphone apps.

The XLE offers those SE options as well. Also optional on the XLE is a 10-speaker JBL audio system (bundled with the upgraded Entune navigation package), an Advance Technology package (automatic high beam headlight control, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system and lane departure warning), a Safety Connect package (detailed below in the Safety section) and a blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning system.

Driving: The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is, for the most part, dynamically well-rounded. Thanks to careful suspension tuning, it grips the road well, and the ride is mostly undisturbed by bumps and ruts. Most drivers will find the steering precise, but if you're more demanding, you might notice its lack of road feel. In that case we'd steer you toward the Fusion Hybrid, which has crisper, more direct steering.

That said, Toyota's hybrid drivetrain remains 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, for example. All the while, acceleration is strong for a midsize, non-premium-brand hybrid sedan.

What’s New: The Toyota Camry Hybrid receives a thorough overhaul for 2015, a mere three years after a complete redesign. Highlights include all-new exterior styling, improved handling and a revised interior with more equipment and better materials.

The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and battery pack. Working together, the two power sources crank out a combined output of 200 hp. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers power to the front wheels. We haven't yet tested a 2015 model, but the last Camry Hybrid XLE we evaluated accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, a quick time for a hybrid midsize sedan.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Camry Hybrid LE is 41 mpg combined (43 city/39 highway). Interestingly, the XLE achieves 40 mpg combined (40 city/38 highway), likely due to the increased rolling resistance of its larger wheels and tires.

Safety: The 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid comes with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and knee airbags for both driver and passenger. On the XLE you can also get a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and a frontal collision mitigation system that includes automatic braking. The XLE's optional Safety Connect telematics system includes emergency assistance, stolen-vehicle notification and automatic collision notification.

In government crash tests, the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid received five stars (out of five possible) for overall crash protection with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the standard (non-hybrid) Camry its best possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. The Camry also earned a "Good" score in the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.

Pro: Comfortable and spacious interior; strong acceleration; good visibility; user-friendly interior controls.

Edmunds Say: With its improvements to cabin quality and handling, the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid is a more compelling and competitive midsize hybrid sedan that still boasts generous interior space and a solid reputation for reliability.

Introduction: Toyota typically redesigns its cars every five or six years. Within that time period, it usually makes a few minor updates but otherwise leaves them alone until the next major overhaul. So it's a little surprising that Toyota has given the 2015 Camry Hybrid a fairly significant update just three years after the car's last redesign. Whatever the reasons for this more comprehensive batch of changes, Toyota has essentially corrected the few weak areas on last year's Camry Hybrid.

The changes start with the exterior styling. The new grille is larger and more aggressive-looking and provides a closer familial tie-in with those used on the Camry's pricier Avalon and even Lexus relatives. More sculpted body sides replace the former slab-sided design, and the taillights now look cohesive, as opposed to the former disjointed units that looked as if they had been sourced from two different cars. It's a similar story inside, as improved materials quality, notably in the center console and door panel areas, boosts the refinement factor. Even the climate control buttons and knobs are larger and imbue a sense of higher quality. The overall effect is that of a more upscale sedan.

Toyota didn't fiddle with the sedan's gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, which means you've got a 2.5-liter engine and electric motor combo good for 200 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 41 mpg in combined driving. But Toyota did tweak the Camry's body structure and suspension tuning this year to provide a more buttoned-down demeanor when you're driving around turns. Choose the sport-tuned SE version and you'll have an even more responsive and engaging feel. It may still not be quite as involving as the Fusion Hybrid, mind you, but most people should find the SE pretty satisfying.

As with past versions, the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid also boasts comfortable seating front and rear, good outward visibility and a smooth and quiet ride. Downsides are minor on the hybrid Camry. The steering provides little in the way of feedback, while fuel economy, though generally impressive, still falls short of the class leaders, which earn combined ratings in the mid to high 40s.

Those class leaders are the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid. Both have slightly better fuel economy numbers and are a little sportier to drive. But compared with a rival like the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Toyota offers a smoother-operating hybrid system and better fuel economy. It also provides a lot more room inside than the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Newly invigorated, the 2015 Camry Hybrid merits strong consideration from shoppers looking for a comfortable, gas-sipping family car.

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