First drive: King Camry now comes in hybrid only

First drive: King Camry now comes in hybrid only

For years we’ve noticed shifts and trends when it comes to technology in the car industry. Two decades ago, it would have been rare to find turbocharged engines in mainstream vehicles, but now they seem to be powering everything from entry-level sedans such as the Nissan Almera and crossover SUVs like the Ford Territory.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Is the Toyota Camry still available with a V6?

    No. The lone engine option of the Toyota Camry is the 2.5-liter hybrid.
  • Will the non-hybrid Toyota Camrys still be sold?

    No.
  • What is the fuel economy rating of the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid?

    It is reported that it can reach up to 22kpl.
  • 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid front facia profile

    Toyota Philippines is leading the charge toward a new and more environmentally friendly option that, from this writer's standpoint, will usher in a new era in car technology: electrification. It started with the quirky Toyota Prius which no one seems to have cared for a while back, but seeing the success with the Toyota Corolla Altis and Toyota Corolla Cross, the company feels that it’s ready to unveil a hybrid-only model for one of its most recognizable models, the Toyota Camry. That’s right, the 2022 Toyota Camry only comes with a hybrid powertrain this time.

    Here is our initial impressions and quick first drive.

    Exterior

    The 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid has an updated styling over the previous model. Prior to the redesign, the Camry’s fascia featured a quirky fish-like grille that makes it quite imposing but at the same time takes some time to get used to. I understand that Toyota’s mandate is to add more pizzazz and styling to once-boring models, but the angular lines and vents on the previous model may have been a case of overcompensating.

    2022 Toyota Camry front quarter low wide

    With the introduction of the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid, we see the designers add a little bit of restraint to the proceedings. The front grille now has a more traditional look, even if it still musters a large gape. A hallmark of this current generation Camry are those bi-beam LED tail lamps and LED fog lamps. They not only look stunning, especially with those daytime running lights, but provide great illumination in the darkest of back roads.

    2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear profile

    The side and rear profile of the 2022 Toyota Camry remain largely unchanged. Large sweeping character lines that seem to extend the length of the executive sedan and a subtle hint of a ducktail spoiler in the rear excite the senses. Unlike Camrys of old, interesting two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels with chunky 235 45R18 tires complete the overall look. I’ve never called any Camry in the past athletic; the wider stance of the Camry Hybrid can at least make you do a double take whenever you see this on the road.

    Interior

    As much as I thoroughly enjoy the exterior of the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid, it’s what is in the inside that certainly counts. Camrys were meant to be executive sedans in the Philippines — and quite a few levels up from the standard, plebeian compact sedans. This car definitely shines in that category. Plush leather upholstery invites passengers to relax and enjoy the ride. Rear space is quite generous, and is even power adjustable to recline to achieve maximum chill. Rear passengers can control this and more thanks to a rear control panel in the rear center armrest. 

    2022 Toyota Camry hybrid cockpit

    The 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid also gives the driver a lot to enjoy. Both front seats are power adjustable up to eight ways and the driver even has lumbar support. The seven-inch multi-information display is sandwiched between, thankfully, fully analog gauge clusters. This gives you all the information you need, and I still love the classic look of mechanical dials instead of a huge screen. While Toyota has been hit or miss with its touchscreen infotainment systems, the one on this model is spot on. It’s a nine-inch unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It pumps audio through nine JBL powered speakers. 

    Drive and fuel economy

    Let’s get to the meat of things. Everyone knows that Camrys are huge on the outside; even bigger and more luxurious on the inside. Unfortunately, the car has also been known for being one thirsty beast. So how does the 2022 Toyota Camry hybrid stack up with the new engine? Mind-blowing, to say the least.

    2022 Toyota Camry engine bay

    Powered by a 2.5-liter hybrid engine that makes 176hp and 221Nm of torque, the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid accelerates well on city roads and easily gets up to cruising speed without any drama or breaking a sweat. While those power figures seem to be down by quite a few points over the previous model, keep in mind that electric motors that assist the naturally aspirated engine in cars like the Camry operate differently from normal internal combustion engines. My butt dyno tells me that it’s more powerful than what it shows me on paper. The almost instantaneous thrust and G-forces pulling me to the back of the seats make me doubt the spec sheet and recheck the horsepower and torque figure again because the numbers might be underreported. I've never thought I’d say this about a Camry: It’s quick.

    2022 Toyota Camry front profile rolling

    Steering, as to be expected from an executive sedan, is quite muted but accurate and precise thanks to the electronic power steering system, but it’s not as numb as you would expect it to be. Riding lower to the ground still gives you a nice road feel as compared to say, an SUV. Handling has also improved over previous generations. The 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid has MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone setup in the back. The large tires and wider stance also contribute to the better-than-average handling performance. It’s not quite a sports saloon but I’d forgive you if you pretended that it was.

    2022 Toyota Camry front quarter rolling

    Fuel economy figures have yet to be tested but Toyota mentioned that it can get to 22kpl. During our testing where we had the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid on idle for quite some time and driving it aggressively for nice shots, it netted us around 9kpl which is already nothing short of phenomenal. I can’t wait to get a full review to show you how it did on the open road!

    Safety

    Being a passenger-oriented vehicle, the 2022 Toyota Camry doesn’t scrimp on the safety features. Apart from the standard features such as airbags for the driver and passenger on the front and side as well as curtain and knee airbags for the driver, anti-lock brakes, stability control, it also has Toyota Safety Sense. This is a system that utilizes active and passive safety systems to ensure a safer driving experience. 

    2022 Toyota Camry hybrid tail lights

    Toyota Safety Sense includes the Pre-Collision System that mitigates frontal collision by alerting the driver and adds extra braking power to the wheels, Automatic High-Beams to avoid blinding on-coming traffic. Lane Tracing and Lane Keep Assist are also helpful during high-way cruising as well as Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to detect traffic around you and adjusts cruising speed accordingly. Panoramic View monitor is also available to give you a 360-degree view of your surroundings when parking.

    Pricing and conclusion

    During my time with the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid, I realized the gap between the model over compact sedans. This, after all, is an executive sedan and the segment has been out of my radar after reviewing SUVs and smaller cars. It takes a little perspective to appreciate the P2.33-million price tag. It might seem pretty steep at first glance, but considering that many compact sedans are slowly creeping toward the P2-million mark, and the staggering amount of features and power the Camry Hybrid can give customers, I’d say it’s a reasonable price. 

    2022 Toyota Camry front quarter right close

    There isn’t much competition in this segment apart from the Honda Accord EL Turbo, and Mazda 6 which is getting quite long in the tooth. It’s safe to say that the Toyota Camry Hybrid is entering a new phase in it’s dominance of the segment. 

    2022 Toyota Camry hybrid badge

    Camry comes from the Japanese word “Kanmuri” which means crown. As they say, heavy is the head that wears that crown, but knowing Toyota, the company would also probably add some weight-saving features to that crown. The result? A Toyota Camry, with a hybrid powertrain.

    Photos by Roy Robles

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