These two cars really matter.
Corvettes and Prii may get the majority of headlines and start the majority of arguments. But when it comes to cars people actually buy in large numbers, there’s no denying the hegemony of midsize sedans.
The acknowledged leaders of this segment are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. They’re a subject of envy from Yokohama to Detroit.
Last year, the Camry was third best-selling vehicle in the U.S., after the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado full-size trucks, with the Accord right behind it.
These two have clearly dominated the competition, but how do they compare with each other? With a new 2015 Camry on the way, it seemed like a good time to find out.
Both the Camry and Accord have a reputation for boring styling, but Toyota tried to change that with the 2015 model.
The new Camry grabs styling cues from the Avalon and Corolla, with a hint of Lexus visible as well. The most dramatic change is the yawning chasm of a grille on SE and XSE models.
In contrast, the 2014 Accord is restrained and subtle. It’s a handsome car, but also a bit anonymous. The one thing it has over the Camry in the styling department is an available coupe body style.
Still, a good car should be more than inoffensive. Toyota really tried to make the 2015 Camry more exciting, and for that it gets the nod here.
Interior design, comfort, amenities
Both cars feature simple, functional interiors with now-obligatory center-stack display screens for their respective infotainment systems.
The Camry adds a 4.2-inch TFT display nestled between new Optitron gauges, plus wireless smartphone charging in a compartment in the center console.
Toyota’s large central screen and buttons also looks easier to use than Honda’s split screens, and the (optional) French stitching gives the interior a slightly sportier feel. The Camry takes this round.
Underneath the 2015 Camry’s sleeker sheetmetal are powertrains that carry over from the 2014 model.
The means buyers can choose between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 268 hp and 248 lb-ft, both paired with six-speed automatic transmissions.
There’s also a Camry Hybrid with a carryover 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, electric motor, and nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total system output is 200 hp; Toyota doesn’t list combined torque.
The Accord, meanwhile comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 185 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
An optional 3.5-liter V6 produces 278 hp and 252 lb-ft, and comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic.
On top of that, Honda offers an Accord Hybrid with a unique setup that does away with a conventional transmission, as well as an Accord Plug-In.
It’s that variety that allows the Accord to take the lead here. It’s always nice to have options.
Performance isn’t either car’s raison d’etre, but both manufacturers claim their respective products will be entertaining on the morning commute.
Despite its size and seemingly un-sporty specifications, the Accord routinely wins plaudits from automotive journalists for its pleasing driving experience. Honda has always had an uncanny ability to make its ordinary models more than ordinary.
The Camry, on the other hand, is known as one of the most boring cars on the road. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has ordered his coming to make more-exciting cars, so it will be interesting to see how the 2015 model handles.
The addition of a “sporty” XSE trim level for 2015 might help matters. For now, though, the Accord appears to be the driver’s choice.
Toyota hasn’t announced pricing for the 2015 Camry, but a base 2014 Camry L starts at $23,235, while the top V6 XLE has a $31,515 sticker price. Both prices include destination.
The 2014 Camry Hybrid LE starts at $27,140 and goes for $28,755 in top SE trim.
The 2014 Honda Accord starts at $22,745 in LX trim with a four-cylinder engine and manual transmission. The top V6, automatic Accord Touring sedan starts at $34,270.
The 2014 Accord Hybrid has a base price of $29,945, but costs $35,695 in top Touring form.
Finally, there’s the Accord Plug-In, which starts at $40,570. That’s pretty steep, but remember there isn’t a comparable Camry plug-in hybrid.
Overall, the two cars start fairly close, but the Accord gets more expensive. That’s likely due to the greater depth of the Accord range, though, and the gap could close once pricing for the 2015 Camry is announced.
To be frank, these cars are uncool.
While the ad copy may emphasize sporty driving and luxurious interiors, these are really lowest-common-denominator cars designed to serve as basic transportation for the average driver.
So while they are very good cars, both struggle to inspire the emotions one normally associates with coolness.
That being said, Honda has been a darling of the tuner scene for decades, which should be worth something, and the 2015 Camry’s more-extroverted styling is a major step in the direction of Coolsville.
A midsize sedan is more likely to spend time sitting stationary in a parking lot than moving around it at high speeds in an autocross event, so the Camry’s greater curb appeal weighs more heavily, and makes it the cooler car.
That’s probably the first time a Toyota Camry has been described as cooler than anything. The End Times may be upon us.