There have been pretenders, but the Toyota Camry has held down the title of best-selling car in the United States now for twelve years running. The Camry is once again poised to continue its reign once the 2014 sales are tallied.
So why has Toyota changed so much for the upgraded 2015 model? Most Camry fans were ready for a little more style. The midsize competition has gotten slicker in recent years, and Toyota wisely chose to follow suit. Since first spied at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the Camry has given fans and critics alike reasons to be satisfied.
Then there is the comeptition. For this comparison, the hybrid model only will be stacked up against four competing (i.e. selling at a siginifcant volume) midsize hybrids in the 2015 Camry’s class in terms of power, style, fuel economy, and value considering the premium over the standard gas model’s price point (a study provided by Mojomotors.com). Here’s how the 2015 Camry looks.
1. 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid ($27,615)
For the 2015 Camry headed to U.S. dealerships in late September, there hasn’t been much of a price hike for base gasoline and hybrid models. As far as the hybrid is concerned, there has been no mechanical alterations. It will roll with the 2.5-liter four cylinder hybrid engine offering 200 horsepower. LE base models start just a few hundred dollars more than the 2014.5 Camry Hybrid LE. Fuel economy is expected to stay at 43 city miles per gallon and 39 miles per gallon on the highway (41 miles per gallon combined).
All told, the hybrid model will cost $3,820 and deliver 13 mpg better than the 2015 Camry LE. That’s one of the best values on the market, considering the premium over the standard model. It would take approximately 88,000 miles to make up that difference according to MojoMotors; meanwhile, Toyota’s exterior upgrades make it much easier to look at, especially in sportier trims like the XSE. At 30,700 sales through August 2014, the Camry is the best selling hybrid midsize sedan in the U.S.
2. 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid ($26,475)
In terms of sales volume, the Ford Fusion Hybrid has been the only legitimate midsize competitor for the Camry in 2014. Ford has sold 26,594 models of the Fusion hybrid this year. Mechanically, its 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four engine and electric assist offer a total of 188 horsepower. Its revised efficiency has been set at 44 miles per gallon city, 41 miles per gallon highway, and 42 miles per gallon combined.
Stylistically, the Fusion’s redesign several years ago has been lauded for its attractive lines and Aston Martin-esque grille, and the Fusion may retain its advantage even with the upgrades to the 2015 Camry exterior. At $4,075 more than the gasoline S-trim model, the Fusion Hybrid S offers an extra 16 miles per gallon than the Fusion S’s combined 26 miles per gallon. That figure is comparable to the Camry hybrid premium and would take approximately 90,000 miles to square the values of the two models.
3. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($26,000)
Despite being well down in sales volumes yet third in the class (16,059 units in 2014), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid definitely has the ability to turn heads on the street. It packs a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine with electric motor that provides a total 199 horsepower, right in line with the 2015 Camry Hybrid’s output. Fuel economy ratings stand at 36 miles per gallon city, 40 miles per gallon highway, and 38 miles per gallon combined trailing the Camry by 7 city miles per gallon and 3 miles per gallon overall.
The base gasoline model carries a sticker of $21,500 with 29 miles per gallon combined, making the Sonata Hybrid an improvement of 9 miles per gallon at the premium of $4,500. Though the Sonata Hybrid is the lowest priced model of these five examples, the low sticker of the standard Sonata makes the hybrid premium a poorer value than the 2015 Camry offers over its gas model. Still, for 38 miles per gallon at a base MSRP of about $26,000, buyers could do a lot worse than this Sonata model.
4. 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid ($29,305)
Following the redesign of the Camry, critiques giving the Accord a style advantage have been neutralized. Consumers may even prefer the look of the 2015 Camry compared to its chief rival among midsize sedans. The combined power output of the 2015 Accord Hybrid (196 horsepower) puts it right on par with the 2015 Camry Hybrid. However, fuel economy figures give the Accord a huge edge: hybrid models get 50 city miles per gallon, 45 highway miles per gallon, and 47 miles per gallon combined.
A base Accord LX ($22,105) offers a combined 27 miles per gallon, making the improvement a full 20 miles per gallon in the hybrid model along with its $7,200 premium over the gasoline model. Against the Camry Hybrid, the 2015 Accord Hybrid offers 6 combined miles per gallon better at a premium of $1,700. Honda has sold 9,425 models of its Accord hybrid in 2014, though it’s only been on the market for a short while.
5. 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid ($25,995)
A Kia Optima differs from sibling Hyundai Sonata only in exterior. In hybrid mode, the Optima joins the Sonata in offering 199 horsepower from its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Fuel economy ratings also hold at 36 miles per gallon city, 40 miles per gallon highway, and 38 miles per gallon combined, trailing the Camry by 7 miles per gallon city and 3 miles per gallon combined.
Stacked against its base gasoline model (27 miles per gallon combined), the 2015 Optima Hybrid offers an improvement of 11 miles per gallon at a premium of $4,345. Behind the Camry and Fusion, the Optima offers the best value when compared to gasoline models. In terms of styling, the Optima offers one of the sportiest looks in the segment, which will continue to hold even against the Camry redesign. Sales have trailed just behind the Accord Hybrid at 8,890 Optima hybrid models sold in 2014.
Efficiency ratings have improved so much for gasoline engines that certain hybrids make the premium a wash. The 2015 Camry Hybrid remains one of the best values for the segment, even with the stiff competition from these four models.