|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The Camry is unashamed of its reputation for being a chauffeur-driven, luxury-barge. It’s the reason why Filipino executives love them in the first place. Prior to the refresh, the Camry was somewhat plainer; a fact Toyota corrected this year. It now gains a front-end that resembles that of the more exciting Vios or Corolla Altis. The new headlamps now feature LED daytime running lights to go with the projector HID headlamps. The chrome wing now extends from end-to-end while horizontal elements in the upper and lower bumpers give it a more menacing look. The new face works well except for the faux brake ducts. These could have been eliminated altogether or could have integrated the fog lamps. The back also sees a nip-tuck. Now, a chrome strip also runs end-to-end integrating nicely with the Crown-esque tail lamps. The rear bumper was subtly changed to integrate the tail pipes neatly. Overall, the new look works by adding a dose of style without going too much overboard.
Inside, the Camry 3.5 Q gets a more somber look by swapping the two-tone beige/black interior for an all-black number. With all the hard points still shared with the pre-refreshed Camry, it’s executed with top-notch fit and finish. The leather-like stitching on the top dash and instrument cluster is still there, but the white stitching is now consistently echoed on the seats. There’s a small amount of metallic trim inside, but for the most part, it’s all wood paneling that extends to the steering wheel and even shifter. Thankfully, the brightness has been toned down a notch to match the look of the cabin.
Next to its competitors, the Camry still is one of the most comfortable places to spend some seat time in. The front thrones aren’t so big anymore, but it’s at the back where it really shines. Aside from the generous knee room, this is still the only model to offer electronically adjustable seat backs for the outboard passengers. Add to that the multitude of sun blinds and an additional climate control zone for the back; it makes for one stress-busting ride. That said, with the rear controls located in the center arm rest, the middle occupant there will have to live with a slightly compromised seating comfort.
Back to the front and into the driver’s seat, it remains a solid choice ergonomically. The driving position is spot on with ample adjustments in all directions. The front seats could use better padding, especially for the backside, but for the most part, it feels like the complete package. Single-handedly, the most controversial change to the Camry is the new instrument cluster with four analog needles and a huge central LCD screen. The default screen itself is puzzling at first with current/instantaneous mileage displayed in green flanked by average consumption on both sides of it in blue. It takes time to understand how it works. Trip computer functions are set using the right steering wheel controls, while the other vehicle settings (auto light sensitivity, door lock functions, and the like) are accessed via the new touchscreen infotainment system. This new interface is largely intuitive and easy-to-use. The home screen is, by default, divided into three functions. You can then drill down further by using one of the physical buttons on both sides of the screen. This screen also serves as the rear parking camera’s display. Finally, the most welcome change to the Camry is best experienced at night where the cheap, green lighting is replaced by premium, blue lighting.
The Camry’s focus on providing a much more comfortable, more serene cabin serves as a perfect indicator on how it behaves on the road. Make no mistake about it: this won’t be carving corners any time soon. Treated as a sensible cruiser, it’s comfortable and plush. It absorbs everything you throw at it, even if the tires are in their delivery state (45 PSI!). It’s a better handler than it ever was, but it’s still no sports sedan. It’s the automotive equivalent of Valium and it’s largely unashamed of that. Everything from the steering to the suspension is designed to isolate you from the hustle and bustle of city life. This is for the executive who need not be bothered with driving fun, when all he wants is peace and quiet after a long day at the office. After all, this very same executive probably has a Toyota 86 for the weekend. Plus, he won’t get offended with the fuel mileage as even in its 3.5 V6 guise, it returns 6.89 km/L.
Still, if he decides to stretch his Camry’s legs on Sundays, it’ll perform well. Cruising on NLEX on the way for a round of golf up Baguio will highlight the impeccable straight-line stability and manners. The steering tightens up offering a safe and confident experience. It’s largely unaffected by crosswinds while returning extremely low wind, tire, or road noise. With 277 horsepower and 346 Nm of torque residing under the hood, there’s no need for more power: it’s all available at just the command of the right foot. Plus, the 6-speed automatic is extremely well-tuned, with smooth and imperceptible shifts. Plus, 100 km/h comes up at a ridiculously low 1,600 rpm enabling it to return up to 14.28 km/L on the highway; combine that with a 65-liter tank nets a cruising distance well past 700 kilometers.
On mountainous switchbacks, there’s a bit more flop and body roll, but it’s nonetheless controlled. The steering takes a bit more tugs and nudges to keep the large body into a corner, but it’s stable all the same. It also comes with a manual override on the gear lever, but no paddle shifters. However, the way it behaves compared to other systems is different. It’s more of an overdrive off function than a true manual override. For example, if the gear indicator says ‘4’, it means the gearbox is free to use any gear suitable from 1 to 4; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in fourth gear. Therefore, it’s best to actually just leave the computer to do the job of shifting for you.
The Toyota Camry is always known to be one of the most, if not the most conservative choice in the executive sedan segment. It’s for this reason why it’s become the de facto choice. You can spend time arguing why you’ll settle for another two-million peso Japanese luxury sedan, but no one will question you if you got a Camry. For sure, there are other choices out there which look better or behave much sportier, but there can only be one Camry. It doesn’t move the goal post much with this refresh, but that small incremental amount just made it beyond the reach of its competitors yet again. It’s the safe and sensible choice in this segment, for those who don’t want too many questions.
2015 Toyota Camry 3.5 Q
|Ownership||2015 Toyota Camry 3.5 Q|
|Year Introduced||2012 (Refreshed: 2015)|
|Vehicle Classification||Executive Sedan|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspirated, EFI|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||V6|
|BHP @ rpm||277 @ 6,200|
|Nm @ rpm||346 @ 4,700|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,540|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Dual-Link Strut|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Yokohama Decibel E70 215/55 R 17 V (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Front and Rear with Reverse Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic, Power Adjust|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (f & r)|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual (front), Yes (rear)|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|