Sporty green motoring.
Hybrids often have a reputation for being, well, boring. It doesn't have to be this way, as models like the 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid proves. Particularly in the sporty XSE trim recently debuted last year.
“We love the handling, responsiveness and comfort of a classic passenger car, and we know many Canadians do, too. That’s why we continue to offer compelling choices like the Camry,” says Cyril Dimitris, vice president of Toyota Canada. “Drivers who have not experienced a modern Toyota sedan owe it to themselves to put the new Camry on their test-drive list.”
Rather than going for luxury-oriented styling, the XSE wears a black mesh-style wide-mouthed grille flanked by standard equipment LED headlights and matching mesh lower air intakes. Underneath is an integrated two-tone front splitter. Truth be told I personally prefer the XLE’s front bumper design with the stretched out horizontal bars, but different strokes for different folks.
On the other end, there are LED taillamps, a subtle lip spoiler sitting atop the trunk and a built-in diffuser. Definitely un-Prius-like. Other exterior highlights are a bright red coat of Supersonic Red paint and big gunmetal 19-inch alloy wheels.
Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform featuring an extended wheelbase and wide stance, this latest iteration looks bigger than previous examples — and exponentially more refined — resembling in many ways its brother from another mother, the Lexus ES.
The cabin is spacious providing 1,069 millimetres of legroom for the front passengers and 965 rear, and can accommodate 428 liters of cargo. If additional room is required, the 60:40 split bench folds forward.
Even the interior is quite Lexus-like, as the grade-topping XSE comes with all the bells and whistles like the much-improved Toyota Audio Plus infotainment system utilizing a nine-inch display, beautiful heated leather steering wheel and wireless charging. Unfortunately, the leather on the seating surfaces aren’t the most premium feeling.
Sharing the same under hood mechanicals as the RAV4 Hybrid, which the brand calls “the most popular and proven advanced power train on the planet, the propulsion unit consists of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine and two electric motors that transfers 208 net horsepower to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission.
Most products in the segment tend to be a bit whiney during acceleration as the Camry is as well, though not overly so. I wouldn’t say performance is exactly blistering, however the pickup is decent and the sedan is comfortable to drive. The sport-tuned suspension isn’t too stiff and increases the fun factor taking the long way back home after dropping off the kids at school.
All models are packaged with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ driver assistance and among the usual assortment of functions also include intersection support that detects an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and provides audio/visual alerts and emergency braking if needed; and emergency steering assist helping keep the car in the proper lane while trying to avoid a potential collision.
The 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid is built at the company’s manufacturing facility in Kentucky.
MSRP: $37,905 (as tested)
Motor: 2.5-litre four cylinder + two electric motors
Horsepower: 208 (net)
Torque (lb-ft): 163 @ 5,200 rpm
Layout: front engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 7.8 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Photos courtesy of Toyota Pressroom.