Emma Jayne Williams

Camry, Toyota’s best-selling vehicle, comes in several models, including a special edition

The Toyota Camry was been dramatically restyled for 2015, just three years after another complete redesign.
The Toyota Camry was been dramatically restyled for 2015, just three years after another complete redesign.

Toyota redesigned its Camry sedan in 2015 with a chiseled, sleeker, bolder, more-confident look, giving the car a “road-hungry” grille and front bumper.

Wrap-around taillights blend into the tapered rear quarter panels for a sophisticated appearance, while integrated front turn signals and LED daytime running lights give an elegant appearance.

The redesign also created the quietest, most-comfortable, best-handling Camry ever, and for 2016 Toyota, is upgrading the already cutting-edge line of multimedia systems, including Entune Audio with ConnectedNavigation Scout GPS App Link for XLE and XSE four-cylinder models.

Camry offers seven models, including two hybrids, and for 2016 introduced a Special Edition version. It brings additional doses of aggressiveness and technology, and has unique blue contrast stitching and blue meter and instrument-cluster ornamentation; smoked taillights; and Special Edition logos and exterior badging.

For 2016, Camry prices range from $23,070 for the base LE to $30,140 for the XLE Hybrid, with several packages and lots of accessories available, depending on which model is chosen.

Three models have178-horsepower. 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines – LE,SE, and Special Edition; two models offer a choice of the four-cylinder or a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 (one of the few V-6’s offered in the midsize segment) – XSE and XLE; and two 2.5-liter four-cylinder Hybrids are available – LE and XLE.

All gasoline models have a six-speed automatic transmission, while hybrids have an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission.

Depending on the model chosen, and, in some cases, package selection, up to nine exterior colors are available (Special Edition only offers Blue Crush Metallic). Predawn Gray Mica is elegant, Ruby Flare Pearl is dramatic and adds $395, Crème Brule Mica is sweet, and Super White is radiant.

There are interiors in cloth or leather, with up to three colors available – Black, Ash, and Almond – (Special Edition has black cloth).

For this review, I drove an XSE from the middle of the lineup with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, priced at $26,310 before options.

My XSE was Blue Crush Metallic with a Light Gray interior, Sport leather trimmed ultrasuede heated front seats with high contrast French-stitching, ultrasuede on the door panels, satin chrome trim across the dash, sport-tuned suspension and paddle shifters on the leather-trimmed steering wheel (with audio and Bluetooth controls). Satin chrome interior trim feels and looks more sophisticated and luxurious.

Side bolsters were supportive, while the transmission featured faster shift times in “S” mode (using the console-mounted multi-mode shifter) for heightened performance-driving feel.

The specially tuned Sport suspension took advantage of Camry’s highly rigid body structure for sporty agility, and a body-color rear spoiler added style as well as function for spirited driving.

The wheels were striking 18-inch machined alloy with five triangular “spokes” showing gloss black paint in the pockets. The black was echoed in the Sport trim bezels around the auto on/off projector-beam headlights and the large Sport piano black mesh grille. The headlights had a dark chrome coating, for an interesting, almost sinister look.

Chrome window surround, a grille splitter between the headlights featuring a “Toyota” badge, a prominent trunk finisher below a Toyota badge, and exhaust tips finished the sporty look.

Inside, the center stack was high-tech, with a seven-inch touchscreen display for the Entune multimedia system. Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, a $525 option, brought the Entune Multimedia Bundle with the seven-inch high-resolution screen with split screen display, AM/FM DC player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port for iPhone, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, and music streaming via Bluetooth.

Advanced voice recognition allows the driver to control many multimedia functions using natural speech patterns by pressing a button on the steering wheel and selecting from a command list on the screen.

The package also included Siri Eyes Free, Entune App Suite, HD Radio, HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM cache radio, Sirius XM all access radio (three-month trial subscription) and Gracenotes album-cover art.

Siri Eyes Free allows the driver to use natural language voice commands to operate an iOS mobile device as well as the infotainment system through the device linked to the vehicle’s audio system. The driver uses a button on the steering wheel to make and receive calls and texts, select and play music, access maps for directions, and much more.

Entune App Suite, a collection of popular mobile applications and data services, is operated via Bluetooth and a compatible mobile phone, and includes Destination Search, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable and Pandora, to name a few. Data services include traffic and weather, sports scores, fuel guide, stocks, and on some models, Facebook Places and Yelp.

A 4.2-inch screen between the 3-D Optitron gauges coordinated with the multimedia system, displaying audio, navigation, warnings, and communications, and displayed tire pressure for each tire through the tire-pressure monitoring system.

My tester had 10 air bags, including rear seat-mounted side air bags and front knee bags.

A Convenience Package ($845) included a Smart Key System on the front doors and trunk, along with pushbutton start, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink Universal Transceiver, and anti-theft system with alarm.

Qi Wireless Charging added $75. Qi (chee) is relatively new technology and some phones may require additional hardware in order to become compatible. The phone is placed on a pad in a cubby under the center stack, a button is pressed and lights indicate “charging” and “charged”.

A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert added $500, and a Power Tilt/Slide moon roof added $915.

My Camry XSE gave me a quiet, comfortable ride, with an agile sporty feel, wrapped in an attractive, enticing package.

With $2,860 in options and $835 destination charges, my tester delivered for $30,005.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.