Camry's mid-cycle "refresh" more than just front and rear panels

  • 17-Apr-2014 09:50 EDT

The 2015 Camry coming this Fall has an aggressive front end marked by the large trapezoidal grille. Shown is the XSE, the sporty model, with its black mesh grille.

A mid-cycle "refresh" usually means primarily new front and rear styling treatments, and although the 2015 Toyota Camry body has those changes, it is almost all-new. Only the roof is a carryover in the restyle of the car, which will be on the market in the Fall. Some 2000 parts are new, Toyota said at a product reveal during the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The exterior restyling, with a trapezoidal grille, rounded "muscular" front fenders, and a slightly wider track at 0.4 in (10 mm) to 62.4 in (1585 mm), conveys a more aggressive look. As a result, it is almost "un-Camry," for a car that was historically the conservative buyer's choice. The headlamps are LED for both low and high beam.

The interior also was redone, with a noticeable move up in quality of materials, including more stitching and new use of satin-finish chrome trim.

Top Safety Pick +

As with the Highlander that is already on sale, Toyota is confident the new Camry will get a five-star rating from U.S. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and a Top Safety Pick + from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

The basic Top Safety Pick (without the "+") requires passing grades in a number of IIHS tests, the most difficult being for narrow offset. This simulates an impact at 40 mph (64 mph) into a narrow barrier (such as a telephone pole) at a point on the driver's side just outside the bumper beam reinforcement.

The "+" rating requires a pre-collision system with at least a basic feature for front crash protection, typically low-speed automatic braking. The pre-collision system can be optional, applying only to selected models. If so, it would be available with other safety-focused features, such as lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high beams.

Structural changes

The 2014 Camry required a number of structural changes just to pass the narrow offset test to meet the requirements of Top Safety Pick, and they were phased in as a 2014.5 package during December 2013, preparing the car for the 2015 pre-collision system and other upgrades. A spacer was added to the driver's side front side member to maximize transmission of front offset crash energy into that side member. Furthermore, the A-pillar reinforcements were reshaped and strengthened to optimize diffusion of the narrow offset crash energy into the roof rail, rocker panel, and floor.

"Quieter" is the new mantra at all makes, and Toyota said that there's 30% more noise-abatement material in the carpeting, among the 2015 upgrades.

The powertrains are carryovers, with the 2.5-L four-cylinder and 3.5-L V6 mated to the six-speed automatic. The hybrid continues with the 2.5-L Atkinson cycle four with the continuously variable transmission.

The sporty SE grade that was a popular choice with the current model lineup (45% of sales) spawns an even sportier XSE for the 2015 lineup. The front suspension gets unique shock absorbers, firmer bushings, higher rate coil springs, a beefier stabilizer bar, and specific tuning of the electronic power steering. To make it visually obvious, the XSE gets a mesh grille and specific styling of the front fascia, along with dedicated 18-in wheels.

The restyling does add a bit to Camry's overall length—1.8 in (46 mm) to 191 in (4850 mm).

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