Soften suspension on Camry XSE

After driving our 2015 Camry XSE for the last year, we feel the suspension is too stiff. I guess it is for the “sport” crowd, but we do not like feeling bumps on 3 to 5-hour road trips. What is the best approach to softening the suspension? The dealer says they can put in suspension components from the XLE for a couple grand. What should I focus on to soften the ride, shocks, struts, springs?

I can almost guarantee after spending two grand to change suspension components you will still not be satisfied. There can’t be that much difference.

Just bite the bullet and get a different vehicle only this time see if you can rent one close to what you might buy.

Have you driven an XLE? Is it a lot smoother than your XSE?
Does it have smaller wheels? Dropping an inch or two on the wheel size could improve your ride. I’d do that first, see if it makes enough of a difference. You might find someone that’d be happy to swap with you, lots of folks like the ‘low profile’ look.

New shock+springs would be more than I’d be willing to spend.

If you want to soften the ride, the spring/strut assemblies will have to be swapped out.

Call the dealer and ask if the strut assemblies for the XSE and XLE have the same part number. If they do then doing the swap won’t help.

If the part numbers are different, then installing the XLE strut assemblies is probably the only way to go.


The XSE has 18" wheels with 45 series tires, while the LE has 16" wheels with 65 series tires (4 cyl). I know the ride will improve going to 16" wheels/65 series tires. If you don’t like the Toyota wheel options, Tire Rack has many that’ll fit. Make sure you choose a smooth-riding tire.

I agree with Texases on this.
The 2015 Camry LE uses 205/65-16 tires.
The XLE uses 215/55-17 tires.
The XSE uses 225/55-18 tires.

The 205/65-16 wheel/tire combo, or even the 215/55-17s, should soften your ride while still keeping it safe, albeit with a compromise in handling.
Just check with a dealer to be sure they’ll fit… just in case the XSE has larger calipers.

NOTE: Tirerack can even deliver a set of 205/65-16 wheels with the tires of your choice all mounted and “road force” balanced (the best kind) right to your doorstep. Shop their site and you’ll learn a great deal.

I agree with the approach suggested by texases. First find out if the LE’s smaller diameter wheels will fit - most likely no problem, but sometimes the brakes on the more expensive model are larger than on the base model. Smaller wheels (especially if they are steel) with their higher profile tires will weigh less, and so “step over” undulations and bumps more smoothly. But the biggest effect will be from the higher sidewall - a cushier ride. Less ultimate cornering traction, but a worthwhile trade-off to achieve your goal.

You can check the suspension/strut part numbers on rockauto and see if they are the same.

The Camry is known for a soft ride, but then since some of us complained, Toyota has changed this but I don’t think the handling has gotten any better. I have a 2005 LE with 150K miles and it feels like a boat. So if you give it enough time, I am sure yours would soften too :smiley:

The LE is the soft version. The XSE is the sooper-dooper sporty model.

It may be time for new struts on your '05 LE. Be sure to change the rubbery bits too if you decide to try new struts. You can also reduce lean and wind sensitivity (the boatlike feel) without making the ride firm by changing the sway bar(s). I changed mine on my '05 Scion tC and it really made a difference. And “upsizing” the wheels can help stabilize the ride too. The 215/55-17s referenced above would definitely help.

Changing to the same size tires as the xle is what I’d do first. That should produce very noticeable benefits. If it doesn’t quite do the trick, the switching out the stuts and springs will probably deliever the xle ride you are after. You’ve tried the XLE and that’s what you want in ride quality, right?

It might not be as expensive as it sounds. You should be able to recoup a considerable sum on the sale of the bigger wheels, tires, and stiffer struts, since they are nearly new.

@“the same mountainbike” On my 2005 I am not sure if I am ready to cough up the $ for the suspension change. The engine is fine, so far, the transmission is okay but not as good as new. The ABS light blinks intermittently and the code refers to rear sensors (+ bearings). The radio is getting finicky, and a bunch of other stuff. So I am worried that I might be throwing money away.

While admittedly not cheap, the wheel and tire change alone should make a big difference, although I don’t mean to imply that I’m suggesting not changing the struts if they’re tired. Struts, as with shocks, generally get soft gradually, and the owner/driver slowly gets used to it and doesn’t even notice.

It’s long been a beef of mine that suspension systems are no longer designed to accommodate changing the dampers inexpensively, like our old shock absorbers. I understand that it’s about cost to manufacture rather than cost to repair, but I wish shocks were still common. Even where shocks are used, the work (and cost) is almost exactly the same as changing a strut… except that the spindle movement is controlled by control arms rather than by the damper assembly itself, so no alignment is needed.

1st step - get rid of the sporty 45 series wheels and tires. The LE sized 16" wheels and tires will ride much softer and smoother. Keep the OEM wheels for when you sell or trade in the car.

2nd step - trade the car in on for an LE or XLE model. Don’t change the struts and springs. The money you spend will also devalue the car. You lose money on both counts.

I have a 2012 LE and I bought it specifically for the 16" steel wheels and taller tires. It rides very smoothly and I just put on a set of Goodyear Comfortread Touring tires that made it even smoother.

If you want to keep expenses low for this experiment, find a set of used Toyota 16" Camry wheels/tires at a junkyard. If you like the comfort improvement but the tires are marginal, invest in a new set, a la oldtimer 11, above.

If you keep your cars for many years, sell the take-offs. If you plan to sell the car within a few years, the original tires will still be OK, and the buyer may prefer the original wheels/tires, so keeping them may make some sense.

I’m with oldtimer 11 on this one, and prefer steel wheels and their higher profile tires. With your 6 cylinder engine and steel wheels, your car will be the hottest Camry around in a drag race, but the other 6 cylinder Camrys with low profile tires will outhandle yours on twisty roads. But who cares? You want a more comfortable ride, and you would have it.