I took my 2012 Ford Fusion to the body shop; another deer collision. Now I need a rental. Enterprise rent-a-car has a Chevy Malibu lined up for me. But I want to drive a Toyota Camry. Fortunately, someone is bringing back a 2015 SE in a short time, so I wait for it and get my wish: to see what all the fuss is about, why this is a best selling car, and why some people think that it's almost a crime that these cars are on the road.
The first question I ask: what about the "appliance" issue? It is an appliance, in a sense. I think what people mean by that is that the Camry, and other Toyota models, are highly functional vehicles made to "get the job done" traveling on U. S. roads. Point A to point B? Even race car drivers are doing that. But no Camry is, and probably never will be considered a beautiful, powerful driving machine.
I look at the interior; it's okay, functional. My Fusion is probably a little nicer. But if you want a luxury interior, buy a luxury car.
I test the acceleration; not bad, a little better than adequate. These are initial impressions. But as I continue to drive it a few hundred miles a day, my respect for the car grows.
I'm a bit surprised by the handling; almost as good as my Fusion. The car is 150 lbs. lighter than the Fusion, but it feels 500 lbs. lighter, something that I like. Interestingly, I find that ride quality and quiet is where the car lags behind my Fusion, and I thought the Camry was supposed to be pillowy clouds of comfort and isolation, an escape from the real world of Dodge Challengers and Chevy Camaros. I know that part of this is the SE model, and part of this may be explained by the tires: the Michelin Primacy MXM4 on my Fusion are certainly better than the Bridgestone Turanza 400's on the Camry. But this Camry excels in things rarely mentioned in car reviews, such as night driving visibility. If you drive a lot at night, you know how important this is, and you might know what it's like to drive a car that really does'nt have it, and can appreciate a car that does. This Camry's steering is light; the Fusion's is heavier. The car experts say heavier is better. The car experts don't drive these cars hundreds of miles a day. I have little shoulder pain driving the Camry; I have more with the Fusion. The driving position is good, the seat comfortable ,and I have little back/shoulder pain driving the Camry.
I'm not big on looks. I like the way it looks, and I recieve favorable comments from fellow drivers. Gas mileage is decent; I average 33.48 mpg (my own daily calculations) over about 2000 miles of 90-95% highway driving, which means that the EPA highway estimate of 35 is correct. After driving it a few days, I think I get why the "car enthusiasts" consider the Camry to be boring: few people are going to wake up in the morning, saying "I can't wait to drive my Camry".
On the basis of this review, do I think the 2015 Toyota Camry SE is better than a 2012 Ford Fusion SE V6? Not Necessarily. Why should anyone buy a Camry? I think it comes down to something I couldn't actually review: reliability and durability. If a person does as much research as they can (Consumer reports, the Long-term quality index, truedelta, etc.), I think they will reach the conclusion that the reliability and durability of these cars is something that is measureably real. Of course, time will tell if the 2015 Camry is as reliable as past years, but in the world of affordable cars, it's a good bet.