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Thursday, December 9, 2021

First Drive: 2022 Toyota Camry 2.5 HEV


The Camry has always been a barometer of sorts for Toyota; and each of the Camry generations’ incremental improvements over the years show that the carmaker has almost always leaned on evolution, rather than revolution when it came to their products. But recently, a new kind of thinking has taken over the typically conservative Japanese carmaker. This has resulted in the most advanced, most thoroughly thought-of Camry ever. And surprisingly? It’s technically a refresh.

Admittedly, unless you park the 2022 Camry side-by-side with the outgoing one, the differences are hard to tell. But among the changes are a re-profiled upper grille—now slimmer and more sinister-looking than before, the presence of high-gloss black elements (versus gun metallic) on the lower grille, and new 18-inch alloy wheels.



What the 2022 Camry lacks in exterior changes, it more than makes up for in all other aspects. For starters, there’s the engine. Gone is the ancient and thirsty 2.5-liter EFI engine, and in its place is Toyota’s newest engine dubbed Dynamic Force. Not only is it equipped with D-4S direct injection, but it adopts VVTi-iE—where electrically-operated actuators (as opposed to hydraulic ones) adjust and maintain intake camshaft timing for better fuel efficiency and output. Then, Toyota goes further by pairing it with their fourth-generation hybrid system as standard. The result? 211 horsepower, 221 Nm of torque, and up to 23.8 km/L—who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

Inside, the 2022 Camry has been leveled up to the point that it could probably give a Lexus a real run for its money. The 9-inch screen jaunts right out of the dashboard. Aside from displaying bits about the hybrid system and stuff, it also nudges Toyota’s executive sedan to modernity with standard Apple CarPlay (wired) and Android Auto. Other changes to the dashboard design have been largely dictated by the aforementioned infotainment system, but there are nice improvements to the overall fit and finish too. For one, the obviously faux wood’s been ditched in favor of a nicely textured, highly-technical trim piece.



In terms of creature comfort features, the Camry, more so the current generation received flak for not exactly pushing the envelope in terms of value. Toyota’s taken those criticisms to heart and fitted almost everything they could with this update. With the exception of ventilated seats which are still MIA, the 2022 model has automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a heads-up display, a 9-speaker JBL speaker system, wireless charger, power adjustable steering column, power adjustable front and rear seats (the driver gets a two-position memory), power rear sunshade, side rear sunshades, a three-zone climate control, and the latest Toyota Safety Sense which adds blind spot monitoring with all-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and pre-collision emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection. Indeed, it’s pretty much a Lexus and this is just for a surprisingly good P 2.335 million price tag.

Seat time was short during this preview drive, but the changes, particularly the hybrid powertrain suits the Camry’s overall character. Already known for its comfort and refinement, the addition of near-silent operation is simply icing on the cake.



Like other Toyota hybrids, the Camry now starts up using energy stored in its nickel-metal hydride battery. With no cranking sounds emanating from the engine bay, the only indicator that you’re ready to go are the words, “Ready” displayed on the instrument cluster. With a strong electric motor—88 horsepower and 202 Nm of torque—it can easily propel itself at low speeds without relying on the combustion engine. And even if the A25A-FXS engine does need to assist the electric motor, it does so in manner so quiet and smooth, it’s barely noticeable whether you are in the driver’s seat or standing next to it.

The spec sheet reads a ground clearance of 140 mm, but for the driver, it feels like he’s sitting lower than that. Credit this to the Camry’s use of the TNGA platform which promotes a sportier, more dynamic feel. The roads around Alabang and Filinvest limit any potential high-speed running, but there’s no doubting its quick-witted steering, responsive chassis, and solid structure.



Car enthusiasts rarely light up with excitement at the mention of the Camry nameplate, but the arrival of the 2022 model could change that. Sales-wise, the executive sedan segment has been pretty much stagnant for the past few years, so it takes a different kind of thinking to rock the boat. With the Camry being the leader in that segment, Toyota didn’t need to do much to maintain its lead. However, by giving it the powertrain it so well deserved, it sparks a conversation especially in the area of hybrid technology where carmaker leads. Indeed, more than anything it shows that Toyota is ready to ruffle some feathers.

9 comments:

  1. Pretty bold for TMP to offer the refreshed Camry with a hybrid variant alone. Nice to see that they finally ditched the cheap-looking infotainment in the pre-refresh model.

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  2. this.. or similarly priced cx 5 diesel?

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    Replies
    1. CX5 - more practical and more ground clearance

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  3. V6 Camry is discontinued in Thailand. Not sure where GCC and Russian V6 Camry is sourced. A TMPC excec commented that ES350 is the replacement for V6 Camry in the PH market

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  4. Halos pareho lang ang drivetrain nitong camry sa lexus es300h. At halos pareho din ang dimensions. And for a sensible car buyer, with a price difference of almost 1.4m, the logical choice would be the camry.

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  5. I think this car will be Fuel Efficient because of it's Hybrid Engine.

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  6. Uly, how far can you run this Camry on purely battery power / EV mode? Same as with the Altis Hybrid ba, barely 1km only? It's still using NiMH batteries pa rin pala.

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    1. When I got to drive it, the battery wasn't full charged but I imagine the range won't be that much. The battery size is just 6.5 ah.

      What is noticeable is that even if you're already putting some effort on the accelerator, the car managed to maintain EV mode. This is different from the Altis/Corolla Cross where a heavy right foot would typically kick the engine to life.

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  7. 2 gasoline variants was missing. 2.5 G and 2.5 V

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