Toyota Camry XSE Model Blends Sportiness, Dependability

REFRESHED: The 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 gets improved handling and styling cues like a unique front fascia design with a piano-black mesh grille.
REFRESHED: The 2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6 gets improved handling and styling cues like a unique front fascia design with a piano-black mesh grille. –TOYOTA

Toyota has invested a lot of marketing dollars in proclaiming how bold the 2015 Camry is. Frankly, it’s not so bold until you hit the 2015 Toyota Camry XSE.

For a Camry, it’s fairly bold. It’s a sharper-handling four-door sedan with 18-inch wheels, suspension tuning, and added luxury. To paraphrase another car company, this is not your granddad’s Camry (at least in this trim; others continue the staid ways of Camry’s past).

Camry V6 versions of the XSE add standard LED high and low headlights, smart key entry, Entune premium audio with navigation and app suite, including a 7-inch, high-resolution, touch screen display, power tilt/slide moonroof, Qi wireless charging capability, and much more.

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There is a choice of two engines with the Camry across all trim levels: a 178 hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or the 268 hp 3.5-liter V6. After driving both, I preferred the V6. You don’t want to have crisp handling mated to sluggish performance.

The four-cylinder Camry is fine for sedate commuting. But it’s lacking in performance attributes. Even the V6 can feel a tad sluggish at times with a full load of passengers and cargo.

If you want hybrid fuel economy and the XSE performance enhancements, you’re out of luck. That’s the only trim level on which it is not available.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

Toyota says the electric power steering on all 2015 Camry models is tuned for better on-center feel, enhanced straight-line stability, and more direct-feeling steering inputs. It’s an improvement over previous generations and brings Toyota on par with other brands like Honda, Ford, and Hyundai.

The Camry XSE also features a multi-mode console shifter and steering wheel paddle shifters for the six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission provides faster shift times when in “S’’ mode, along with downshift blipping control to heighten the performance driving feel. There’s the sense that “S’’ mode should be the normal driving mode for the XSE trim level. However, that probably would have messed with fuel economy numbers too much.

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Speaking of fuel economy (yes even XSE Camrys need to discuss fuel economy), the 2.4-liter inline-four Camry is rated at 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway fuel economy. The DOHC 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Cold weather driving found me average about 23.7 mpg with a mixture that saw me spending more time on the highway.

The Camry XSE is the heaviest of the four trim levels at 3,350 pounds. However, that’s only 10 pounds more than the XLE luxury trim level and a scant 110 pounds over the base LE model.

Other XSE enhancements include model-specific 18-inch wheels, higher rate coil springs, unique shock absorbers with internal rebound springs, firmer bushings and unique electric power steering tuning. The alloy wheels (steel are standard) carry 225/45R18 all-season tires. Handling was good on single digit winter days.

On the safety front, the 2015 Camry in all trim levels has the following safety features: pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with auto high beam lane departure alert, and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. The last is the one most folks are going to appreciate when backing out of mall parking spaces between two SUVs.

There are also 10 standard airbags that include dual-stage advanced SRS front airbags, front and rear seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a driver’s and front passenger’s knee airbag.

 

2015 Toyota Camry XSE V6

 

THE BASICS

Price, base (with destination): $32,195. Fuel economy: 21 city/31 highway/25 combined. Drivetrain: V6. Body: Four-door sedan.

 

THE SPECIFICS

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Horsepower: 260 @ 6,000 rpm. Torque: 240 @ 4,400 rpm. Overall length: 190.9 in. Wheelbase: 109.3 in. Height: 57.9 in. Width: 71.7 in. Curb weight: 3,350 lbs.

 

THE GOOD

The 2015 Toyota Camry in the XSE trim adds much needed sportiness in performance and handling to this midsize sedan that’s a perennial top seller.

 

THE BAD

Four-cylinder performance can be underwhelming and the new design is not appealing to some but still a big improvement over the previous generation Camrys.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Toyota has added some sportiness while still maintaining the Camry’s strong reputation for reliable transportation.

 

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