Need to spruce up a ho hum commute? How about transforming a traditional four-door family hauler with a sharper image? Toyota’s ubiquitous Camry, once the poster child of secular suburban conformity, comes with a hearty helping of TRD spice for those who dare in 2022.
Think of the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) subsidiary as an experimental corner of Toyota’s universe where engineers let loose with ideas gleaned from the auto racing circuits transferred to daily drivers. All TRD engineering upgrades arrive straight from the factory. Shoppers tinkering with expensive aftermarket add-ons outside the purview of Toyota manufacturing could easily void warranty coverage, helping TRD trims gain traction with additional peace of mind.
Camry TRD leaves V-6 under-hood power unchanged, instead focusing upon chassis updates including bigger disc brakes and twin piston calipers designed for quicker stops and stiffer anti-roll (or sway) bars keeping riders planted during spirited turns. Plus, TRD showcases an assortment of visual eye pleasers.
Other Toyota entries offering the TRD touch including the Avalon sedan, mid-size Tacoma pickup, full-size Tundra, RAV4 compact crossover, 4Runner off-road crossover and full-size Sequoia sport utility vehicle. The TRD badge first appeared on Camrys beginning in the 2020 model year. Other TRD variants include: ‘TRD Pro,’ ‘TRD Off-Road’ and ‘TRD Sport’ trims specific to heavy-duty off-road tasks and mated to Toyota’s two pickups and larger Sport Utility Vehicles.
In the 2021 Calendar year, Camry once again topped the list of best-selling passenger cars in the U.S. at 294,348 units, also qualifying as the country’s sixth most-popular overall selection. A mix of pickup trucks and compact five-door crossovers grabbed the top five slots. Now in its eighth generation, the vehicle stands the test of time with repeat customers a plenty.
Camry’s lineup underwent minor mid-cycle updates in 2021, from its well-executed eighth-generation 2018 rollout bringing forth a bolder, sculped exterior. Camry continues its family-centric approach with accommodations for five adults, ample headroom and ceiling handles above all four doors; its well deserving of the ‘best-selling’ US sedan honors for the past gazillion years. In addition to TRD, Camry the notable number of trims include base LE, SE, noir-inspired SE Nightshade, XSE and XLE. In addition, a gas-electric hybrid (the self-charging, high-mileage, non-plug-in type Toyota flawlessly executes) is available.
A returning 3.5-liter V-6 cranks out 301 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of low-end torque inside TRD trims. It’s identical to V-6s available in XSE and XLE trims generating the same output. Most of Camry’s mid-size rivals dropped the more potent V-6 option to continue forward with only fuel-friendly four-cylinder power. Regular 87-octane unleaded fuel taps the 15.8-gallon tank with fuel economy registering a combined 25 miles per gallon estimates in city/highway travel.
Camry continues offering its 2.5-liter four cylinder generating 203 horses. Both engines mate to a conventional, well-orchestrated eight-speed automatic transmission; unchanged from 2021.
Unfortunately for a select group of enthusiasts, TRD opts for pedestrian front-wheel drive. Camry rates as one of only a handful of mid-size sedans offering Mid-west friendly all-wheel drive, but AWD is strictly a four-cylinder engine opportunity.
No need to pine over multiple option packages and loads of a-la-carte selections as TRD comes decently equipped. That said, Toyota added one of the few available, a recommend (why not?) $500 two-tone metallic roof option and spoiler to our $32,360 priced tester ending the bottom line at $33,885 with $1,025 destination charge included. About the only remaining factory option for this trim: an upgraded JBL stereo system. While not the most expensive trim, Camry TRD certainly shines with its sharp looks.
Camry’s other two V-6 trims (XSE and XLE) offer extra bling (heated seats/steering wheel, moonroof, heads-up windshield display) not part of TRD’s DNA. Instead, TRD Camry’s opt for suspension tweaks providing a ride height one half-inch closer to the ground. Disc brake rotors increase about an inch in size with dual piston grabbers replacing a single-piston unit.
Inside, TRD editions feature fire-engine red dashboard stitching which continues onto the between-the-buckets automatic transmission shifter and seat backs. The red theme also adorns safety belt straps in front and back and framing bottom floor mat. Pop open the trunk and it’s sizeable protective inside mat includes the fire-engine red fringe beautifying the spacious, by mid-size sedan comparison, 15.1 cubic feet of space. However, unlike most other trims, back seat rests do not fold forward.
As with most Toyota and Lexus luxury sedans, interiors remain remarkably well insulated from outside noise, creating a quiet-riding experience when traversing Illinois’ spacious Tollway system.
Rear of the automatic transmission shifter resides three push buttons summoning drive mode selections: eco, normal and sport; all fore of the space saving electronic parking brake button and left of dual beverage holders. A sliding flat cover under the dash stows small valuables out of sight.
Left of the steering column and wheel, Toyota smartly positions push buttons opening the side fuel door and truck; a superior position to a floor-centric choice.
Side windows include a larger format than some sedans experimenting with a coupe-like appearance by narrowing door glass. Toyota offers the best of both world with a large proportion of glass, providing drivers good visual range while never surrendering style.
An easy-to-view instrument panel carries forward the interior’s user-friendly design. Two analog analogue gauges (with TRD red accents/needles) anchor the IP with 4.2-inch multi-panel digital window between monitored via a steering wheel face push button. This display flashes unique TRD animation when firing up the vehicle via the dashboard push start/stop button.
Recently added Apple Car Play and Android Auto interplay make life easier for Smartphone addicts by welcoming in-car in-screen interaction with stored applications and other downloaded data. A seven-inch touchscreen darts up from the center dash with quick, intuitive screen options. Two dials flank three push buttons operating the single-zone HVAC system.
The most striking exterior TRD visual not found in contemporary Camry’s: the prominent gloss black spoiler just above red TRD badging atop the stout lid. In addition, TRD includes black cladding with thin red framing along the very bottom, acting as an extra protectant against stone pings. Larger 19-inch wheels include a black Matte finish while brake caliper housing sports a red hue. Dual outboard exhausts with polished tips also make a bold statement. Calvary Blue, a new ’22 TRD hue, graced our exterior.
The front grille highly resembles other ’22 Camry trims; a good decision as the stylish nose compliments a prominent lower air dam. However, TRD grille’s add a black hue with a mesh-like insert nicely contrasting with body color.
As with all recently introduced Toyota models, ToyotaCare comes standard, offering two years (or 25,000 miles) of complimentary maintenance covering factory scheduled items (oil changes, tire rotation) along with 24/7 roadside assistance.
2022 Toyota Camry
Price as tested: $33,885
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Wheelbase: 111.2 inches
Overall Length: 194.6 inches
Overall Width: 73.1 inches
Overall Height: 56.3 inches
Curb Weight: 3,575 pounds
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city/31mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Five year/60,000 miles
Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky