A Tale Of Three Camrys: The 2015 Toyota Camry XLE, XSE and Hybrid SE

Front view of 2015 Toyota Camry XLE
The 2015 Toyota Camry XLE.
2015 is a year of significant change for the Toyota Camry.  Long derided, somewhat unfairly, as a transportation appliance devoid of personality, the 2015 Camry has had a significant refresh.  Only the roof is carried over directly from last year, the styling is more aggressive and the interior has had a thorough makeover, as well.

Beyond that, Toyota is marketing the Camry with models that have their own distinct personalities. We've driven three of them, very nearly back-to back, recently.

Side view of 2015 Toyota Camry XLE
2015 Toyota Camry XLE.
We start with the Camry XLE.  It is the top-of-the-line of gasoline-powered Camrys, with a huge list of standard equipment for a base price of $26,150. That is for the 4-cylinder model, which our test vehicle was. Under the hood is Toyota's venerable 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which is rated at 178 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. In normal, everyday driving, it is perfectly adequate in power, quiet and smooth. It is probably the closest to what people expect a Camry to drive like, but better. Its EPA estimate is 25 city/35 highway.

Interior view of 2015 Toyota Camry XLE
2015 Toyota Camry XLE interior.

The interior re-do is a major improvement, and gives the car an immediate premium feel. Ours had optional equipment including a convenience package (Smart key system on front doors and trunk, pushbutton start, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink, and an anti-theft system with alarm) for $845, the Entune premium audio system with navigation and the Entune app suite (which brings with it advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, Bluetooth streaming, HD Radio, HD Predictive Trafffic and Doppler weather, and a three-month trial of SiriusXM satellite radio) for $685, a blind spot monitor for $500, a power tilt and slide moonroof for $915, wireless charging for your cell phone for $75, illuminated door sill enhancements for $299, a carpeted set of floormats and a trunk mat for $225, remote start for $499 and a rear spoiler for $260.  

With $825 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price is $31, 278.

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota Camry XSE
2015 Toyota Camry XSE Sedan.
Next is the 2015 Toyota Camry XSE. Equipped to the same level as the XLE, but with a more aggressive, sporty look. The 17-inch alloy wheels are traded for 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels with a black painted finish, a standard color-keyed rear spoiler (the XLE's was optional) and smoked-chrome upper grille and rear garnish.

2015 Toyota Camry XSE Sedan.
It is not all show, however.  The Camry XSE also adds a sport-tuned suspension.  And our test vehicle was the V6 model, with considerably more oomph than the four-cylinder---268 horsepower, 90 more than the four.

Interior view of 2015 Toyota Camry XSE
2015 Toyota Camry XSE Sedan interior.
Inside, the bits of wood trim are gone, the seats are leather and ultrasuede trimmed with red stitching, the steering wheel gets the same treatment minus the ultrasuede and there are paddle shifters for the six-speed automatic.  It's a sportier atmosphere and encourages taking advantage of the firmer suspension and the extra horsepower.

The XLE and XSE are identically priced, but since this was the six-cylinder, base price was $31,370, $92 more than the as-tested price of the four-cylinder XLE. The EPA fuel economy estimates drop from 25 to 21 city and from 35 to 31 highway.

This test vehicle came with options, as well.  $500 for a blind spot monitor, $805 for the upgraded Entune audio navigation system as described above with the XLE, $750 for the Technology Package (pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams), $395 for special Ruby Flare Pearl paint, $299 for illuminated door sill enhancements, $499 for remote start and $225 for carpeted floor mats and a trunk mat.

With $825 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the V6 XSE was $35,668.

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE.
Finally, there's the Toyota Camry Hybrid.  It comes in three trims---LE, SE and XLE. Ours was the mid-level SE. Outfitted a little less lavishly than the XSE and XLE, it's still a very complete machine.  The hybrid powerplant makes a combined 200 horsepower, which is more than the gasoline four, though the extra power mainly offsets the weight of the hybrid battery pack.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE.
Mileage is the Camry Hybrid's strong suit, with an EPA-estimated 40 city/38 highway. Base price in SE trim is $27,995. Like the XLE, it rides on 17-inch alloy wheels, these with a graphite finish.

Gauge cluster of 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE gauge cluster.
Again, there were options on our test vehicle. Interestingly, the upgraded Entune audio system and navigation that costs $685 in the XLE and $805 in the XSE is $1,300 in the Hybrid SE.  The moonroof is the same price at $915, as is wireless charging at $75, illuminated door sill enhancements at $299, remote start at $499 and a carpeted trunk and floormat set for $225.

With $825 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price is $32,133---a bit more than the XLE, a bit less than the XLE.

So which to choose?  Well, that is highly subjective.  If you are a traditional Camry buyer and simply want roomy, economy and reliability, the Camry XLE makes a lot of sense.  If you've passed over Camrys in the past because they were too vanilla, the Camry XSE could be the right choice.  And if you are concerned about mileage above all else---perhaps you're ready to move up from a Prius, the Camry Hybrid  is a terrific car.

The best news in all of this is that Camry is developing some style, personality and even---in XSE trim---panache.