Will the 2015 Toyota Camry hand the number one spot to Accord by dropping the V6?
The 2015 Toyota Camry may not be available as a V6, leaving the 2014 as the last of the V6 SE models so loved as “sleeper” sports sedans. Toyota is soon to redesign the world’s most popular four-door mid-size sedan and if it follows the trend will eliminate the V6 from the next generation, 2015 Camry. If it does, it will leave the Honda Accord alone to carry on the tradition of affordable, V6 power for working families.
If the 2015 Camry does quit on the V6 it will leave the Accord as the last V6 standing. The 2014 Honda Accord V6 is not only a rocket, it is also has a level of refinement typically found in the luxury nameplates like Acura and Lexus, as our Honda reporter, Parks McCants recently pointed out in his feature story. Although the V6 is not a popular option, Toyota probably only sells about 5% of its cars as V6 models, that still means there are about 20,000 bought by families looking for a family car that can also embarrass cars costing twice as much, say a BMW 528i, at a stoplight.
The 2015 Camry may become a true family car, like a large Corolla. That is not the end of the world, but it means that if the Camry follows the path of the RAV 4, and drops the V6, buyers will have to choose the larger Avalon if they want a sporty, fast sedan from Toyota. Even Lexus does not really offer an affordable choice. The IS350 is priced at least $10,000 higher than the Camry, and it is rear-drive and slightly smaller than the Camry. Most modern sports sedans are rear-wheel drive. That is great in the warmer states, but northern US customers know that if you have to have only one affordable car, front wheel drive is the way to go in terms of both traction in the winter, and also fuel economy.
The Camry started out as a four cylinder car, but that size and shape vehicle has been supplanted in the Toyota line by the excellent Corolla. If Toyota really wants Camry to be a step up it will have to offer more than the standard 2.5 liter 175 horsepower engine. That means it could be bringing a turbo, but that is not Toyota’s culture. Rather, Toyota is now in the habit of adding electrification to its cars and calling the new hybridized car the sporty model. Calling it sporty is the key phrase. None of them really are. The CVT, Atkinson cycle gas engine, and many other fuel sipping features rob the car of its gusto, regardless of what the specification sheet says the power is. The Honda Accord V6 offers both fuel efficiency and also power.
Toyota could do that too, but the trend is in the opposite direction.
We may be making too much of this, but over a glass of wine a Toyota employee told this writer that the new Camry would be a “big change” from the previous generation. Let’s hope there is still a sporty affordable Camry in the future, but we are cautiously pessimistic. If Toyota does neuter the Camry the buying public may opt to look to the excellent Accord for the 20,000 or so sporty family cars it needs. That might be the difference between Camry being number on in sales, and number two.