CROWNED RACY: In this land the sun has set on the large car sorcery cast by the mythical Arthurian sword. However, the sun continues to rise for that crown holder of American market family sedans. Since overtaken by the derivative RAV4 CUV in 2019 for overall passenger vehicle sales, the latest eighth interpretation of Camry family car by Toyota continues to work sales magic with a potion of continued high reliability, greater cabin comfort and a newfound sprinkling of seriously sinewed sensuous body and, most recently, the availability of all-weather drivetrain traction.
However for that heretofore unknown Camry shopper whose driving mien tends to road enthusiasm, there is finally some respite. For the first time a substantial stiffening, aggressive tire -ing and brash sound now comes tuned by Toyota Racing Division. A Camry owners pulse can be quickened by ticking off but one order box, the 2022 Toyota Camry V-6 TRD.
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WHAT: 2022 Toyota Camry TRD XV70 TNGA-K platform mid-size family sedan. It is the eighth generation of most successful mid size family sedan sold in America, succeeding the XV50 redesign. It is the sole TRD V-6 sedan following the end of production of larger Avalon line.
Standard TRD Power: transverse 3.5L DOHC 24V DI SFI gas V-6 = 301 hp/ 268 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transaxle, steering wheel shift paddles; TRD cat-back exhaust; 3 Drive Modes = Eco, Normal, Sport
(Non TRD, XLE V-6 or XSE V-6 Power: transverse 2.5L DOHC 16V DI SFI gas I-4 = 203-206 hp/ 182-185 lb-ft @ 4400-5000 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transaxle, available steering wheel shift paddles.)
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: No family sedan broods as much as the first factory Camry TRD. Even the sky’s own Cavalry Blue can’t detract from the sinister air of air dams, body skirts, diffusers and winged spoilers. Profile = low slung hood, pronounced fenders and rear quarter panel lateral flaring, a tandem greenhouse and beltline crease, subtle lower door creasing, more pronounced at rear entry, arched roof with near fastback raised rear deck.
A thin wide-Y upper dark lattice grille traced by body colored plastic exudes a pointy F-1 aero nostril, cinching and descending to the center lower fascia in the form of a trapezoidal dark lattice grille to create an “X” traced by inboard pointed body color fascia.
The upper rear deck includes a duckbill style integral spoiler. The trunk lid descends with a slight cinching, with a lower license plate bowl, while wrap around tail traces a clear central hockey stick with inboard pointed red boomerangs; At mid corners darkened lattice thin outward slanted vertical fangs extend from lamp assembly to mid bumper from which a inward crease follows; Small parallelogram lateral red parking markers are located just about the bottom lower fascia at corners;
TRD Lord Vader Appearance: All window trim, lettering & badging darkened, Gloss black edging two-tone roof, protruding front lower air dam splitter, side spats, rear lower fascia splitter all in gloss black; Lower trunk lid right side red “TRD” lettering; Gloss black rear deck aero wing; dual large oval “TRD” stainless exhaust tips, matte black “TRD” tuning fork 7-spoke wheels
WHY: Toyota sprinkles some NASCAR on a Q-Ship with V-6 gusto.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2021
WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Georgetown, Kentucky, U.S.A.
HOW ROADWORTHY: Among the last of the remaining transverse V-6 powered front drive sedans [along with Nissan Maxima], the twin-cammer is a gem, delivering a righteous TRD snarl above 3500 rpm, just as the torque begins thicken. Left to its own automatic devices the 8-speed transmission is a let down, upshifting at a 5500 rpm soft redline, a program which neither steering wheel shift paddles or sport mode will remedy. Paddle down shifting wishes it could produce the rev matching throttle blips that a Mazda 6 6-speed slushbox can. Eco Mode usefulness seems limited to slick surface higher gear launching. Oddly the TRD cat back stainless exhaust becomes almost annoyingly delivery truck raspy when lugging at low speeds.
TRD specific chassis tuning:
- TRD dampers
- TRD springs w/ higher rates = +44% / +67% f/r stiffness vs. Camry SE
- TRD hollow stabilizer bars
- Front, center, rear lower chassis bracing, Row 2 seat aft V-shape body bracing
- 2-piston sliding front brake calipers w/
- TRD lightweight alloy wheels = -2 pounds per wheel vs. Camry XSE
- 235/40-19 Y three season rated Bridgestone Potenza RE-050A tires (available Michelin Primacy Green V-rated A/S M+S)
There is no question about it. Camry TRD’s chassis tune makes for one stiff sucker. Vertical body movements are reigned is as tight as some true sports cars. Damping compression and rebound rates have been upped to improve wheel planting, although extreme pavement breaks generate some jolts not felt in other Camry’s. Available summer Bridgestone Potenza gumballs matched by emotive steering and somewhat engaging weighting stock Camry TRD squeeze out grip as lateral forces get extreme until the whisper of oversteer. The big brake setup on the forwards wheels can repeatedly take a heavy pedal scrubbing off triple digit speeds re-assuredly.
HOW FAR: 25 combined miles per gallon;
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Nearly as spacious as Lexus’ largest sedan by cabin volume [the ES]. America’s favorite 2 + 3 family sedan because it fits American sized families.
- Wheelbase / Row 2 Legroom: 111.2″ inches / 38.0″ = +1.9″ / -0.9″ vs. XV50 2016 Toyota Camry XSE
- vs . Nissan Maxima SR = +1.9″ inches / +3.8″ inches, -0.2″ / -2.4″ vs. Honda Accord Sport
HOW USEFUL: √ Deep, wide aperture, roomy trunk space; √ Shopping bag trunk hooks x 2 √ Center-stack sliding rectracing lid covered electronics phone bin = 2 devices; √ Wide front center armrest, shallow felt bottom bin;
- +1 Cupholders x 4, Bottle holders x 4 (each door), Overhead sunglasses bin, Dual extending sunvisors
- -1 Modest hard plastic door pockets; –1 Shallow trunk aperture; -1 Cramped hard plastic lined glove box; -1 No trunk lid grab handle
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Toyota SafetySense P = √ Pedestrian detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Blind spot warning; √ Rear cross traffic detection; √ Lane Departure Warning w/ steering assist (effective only on High Sensitivity); √ Full adaptive cruise control w/ auto hold; √ Automatic high beam headlamps;
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Delivering on the promise as the least pricey Toyota Camry boasting a V-6 cylinder powerplant, the 2022 TRD’s cabin is comparatively de-contented. The low tech twin analog gauge cluster with quaint multifunction display, a 7.0″ split screen infotainment screen and some control dials are totally Corolla -esque. True, low frills is hardly spartan when it comes to any 8th generation Camry. For example a power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment is standard. The Mk. 8 Camry redesign brought likely the first driver directed center stack for a mid size car more likely to see Uber service than any other. But a Mazda 6 the latest Camry is not. Avant garde swooshed shapes and thicker, quieting soft touch panel have reduced gaps. Special “TRD” touches include front headrest emblazoning, unique softex bolstered ballistic fabric inserts seats, red contrast stitched dash panel, steering wheel & shifter, TRD embossed shifter head, and some eye watering red safety belts.
√ Softex leatherette + fabric upholstery; √ 8-way, power lumbar power driver, 4-way manual front passenger seats; √ 4 power windows w/ full up/ down express; √ Tilt / telescoping leather steering wheel
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Red seat belts; √ Red on black twin analog gauge dial markings, with red backlighting
Details Done Right: √ Simulated carbon fiber dash, central console accents; √ Red contrast dash panel, steering wheel stitching; √ Aluminum accelerator, brake pedal covers; √ LED dome front seat reading lights;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Low cabin color contrast; small by 2020’s standard displays and dull graphics
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 7.0″ split pane touch LCD infotainment screen; √ Voice recognition command hands-free communications; +1 SMS Messaging, programmable replies; √ 6 speaker, 240 Watt HD radio streaming audio; √ Andoid Auto & Apple Car Play wireless device projection; √ Siri Eyes;
√ Entune Apps: Amazon Alexa √ USB-A x 3, 12V x 1
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM radio; √ Wi-Fi; √ Toyota Connected Services w/ S.O.S.; √ Wi-Fi 4G LTE (by Verizon)
HOW MUCH: $33,885 = as tested 2022 Toyota Camry TRD V-6. At least $8,985 cheaper than discontinued Avalon TRD.
WHAT’S MISSING: Better bolstered front seats with heating; Front seat courtesy dome lights; Trunk to rear seat pass through; Sharper gauge cluster graphics & better backlighting; Better base audio & larger infotainment screen; Less loopy lane keep assist; Trunk lid liner grab handle.
ANY COMPETITION: Nissan Maxima SR: +1 sporty aspirations, seats which cradle the enthusiast helmsperson
FINAL WORD: One of these enthusiast “Q ships” may just arrive for the next ride share.
Contributing Editor: S. Frissell