Years ago, Laura and I took a road trip to Grove City, Pennsylvania, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. We didn’t travel a long distance, but it’s who’s riding shotgun that can make or break a trip.
Lately we’d been planning to head east to Ottawa to see her cousin’s family, and after several “We’re busy here, we’re away this weekend, I have plans that weekend,” and so on, we finally found a weekend in late January that worked for both of us.
I know what you’re thinking: Who in their right mind goes to Ottawa in the middle of winter? I’ll tell you who: we do! On the way, we played the alphabet game but with an, er, adult spin on it. Fine, we’re a little childish. But all in good fun.
So what to drive to Ottawa, then? Well, the good folks at Toyota Canada agreed to let a Ruby Flare Pearl coloured 2015 Camry XSE be our transportation for the almost 10-hour round trip. On a Friday night, we quickly packed the car and set out.
I happily gassed up the 64.35-litre tank, and with prices where they are, my wallet was smiling for once. I averaged 7.5 L/100 km for the trip; we faced congestion getting out of the city, but by the time we were in Pickering, it was smooth sailing.
When you’re looking at something for close to five hours—the dashboard—it’s a plus to have it look good, and Toyota designed this stylish dashboard to be easy to read. In fact, the entire body design is attractive, with clean design lines and a strong stance.
The centre console is laid out with extra-large and easy-to-reach buttons. The one thing I would’ve liked is for slightly smaller buttons so there could be a couple of extra ones. For example, you have to use the touchscreen menu to get to the navigation feature—a button for that would’ve been better, I think. Everything is housed under the “apps” button, so it’s still easy to get to additional features, but I like to see everything laid out in front of me.
As we cruised along the 401, my iPhone was our source of music and the six-speaker JBL sound system did a decent job of filling in the gaps in conversation. While the seats are certainly comfortable, both Laura and I had a bit of a struggle in finding the best seat position in the Camry XSE, but eventually found the right position for both of us.
Powering us forward was a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine churning out 178 horsepower in a relatively quiet cabin. It was also nice to know that there were 10 airbags helping to keep us safe.
I can’t overly speak to the handling, because the 401 isn’t an Indy track… most of the time. Then again, the Camry isn’t built to be a performance car either; it’s built on what’s made it successful for the past several years. It’s reliable, trusted and gets where you’re going with good looks, plenty of space, and good gas mileage. And, as is true with nearly all Toyota offerings, it’s got longevity on the road. I’ve noticed that late-model Toyotas are quite commonplace these days.
Some road trip highlights:
Laura’s cousin Jamie has three adorable children and a wonderful husband named Dave.
I think Dave has a man-crush on me. I think I have a man-crush on Dave. It’s hard to explain. I think he only likes me for my car.
Great conversations happen late at night when you’re a couple of hours west of Ottawa and cruise control is set to 110 km/h.
Laura hand-knit a scarf in 40 minutes. Impressive, right?
With its latest offering, Toyota will hopefully be able to get existing owners to see all the great work they’ve done and the advancements they’ve made, and how their bold new styling has created a logjam in this segment. And perhaps potential new customers will get an inkling to try the new Camry.
As the XSE is below the $30,000 mark and comes well-equipped, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a lot of them on the road sooner than later. Maybe I’ll spot more of them on my next road trip, which happens to be Philadelphia next week.