Electrified 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid - Review by Thom Cannell
By Thom Cannell
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Toyota Camry, perpetually the best-selling sedan in the USA, comes in a cornucopia of flavors based on engines and interior trim. This XLE I-4 hybrid, while at a combined total 208 horsepower (176 from the combustion motor, 118 from the e-motor) is hardly meant for street racing, delivers well over 40 mpg in city, state and combined ratings. Today and for the foreseeable future, that’s way more important than tire smoke.
Toyota is the master of hybrid systems drawing experience from its Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive. Camry Hybrid—available in five grades from base to XSE—uses a somewhat different drive system with an Electronic Constant Velocity Transmission that emulates an automatic. My first impression was a lack of on-ramp and passing power, which, by switching to Sport Mode, delivered the kind of responsiveness I craved. Note that around town, and while cruising on highways, Eco Mode or Normal felt appropriate.
With Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, there’s expected real world benefits like AEB or automatic emergency braking, and now Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection. On models with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control the system can brake you to zero if the vehicle ahead stops, then resume forward motion. Where I draw the line when testing is failing to pay attention, so can’t say I tried it. What I did try is Lane Departure and Tracing. Frankly, it can be annoyingly assertive and fails to allow the car to wander a bit to follow the road surface, so I used it sparingly, as when in poor visibility conditions.
Riding on the rigid, high-strength steel -intensive TNGA-K platform, the XLE delivered a smooth ride and balanced handling from sport-tuned springs and dampers. If you’ve not driven a Camry recently, there’s more EuroSport in them than you’d expect. And yes, Camry uses MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear suspension.
The interior, roomy and comfortable, included heated and cooled seats. Seat cooling on hot days can be quite wonderful and is something to be desired in warmer climates.
Something that makes me happy is a good, or great sound system, which this XLE featured. As audiophile sound systems are now common on luxury vehicles (Mark Levinson on many Lexus), the JBL system delivered solid soundscapes and was easy to use including Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay® and Amazon Alexa® compatibility. Importantly, all controls made sense.
Overall, Camry continues to present what buyers want most from a sedan, comfort, appropriate performance, good looks and above all, value, which Camry has and seemingly always will deliver.