If we say high-performance, 4-door sport sedan with a powerful 6-cylinder engine, what comes to mind? BMW? Mercedes? Acura TLX? How about Toyota Camry?
That’s right, the Camry. Toyota’s faithful if not soul-stirring family transportation. Have we lost our minds? Nope, we just found the 2022 Camry TRD V6. TRD standing for Toyota’s Racing Development, it has the bona fides. But should it be on your shopping list?
One Bad Camry
Redone in 2018, the current generation of Camry has always been a nice design. Aggressive, muscular, and wide, it was the beginning of the brand’s commitment to entice buyers and drivers, and even the lower cost SE trims have a nice road-worthy look to them.
The TRD edition takes the Camry into the depths of high-performance with a look that adds a gloss black front grille with mesh insert and black badging. Unique piano-black front splitters look mean and aero. Like other factory hot rods, that added body kit is more likely to scape around entrances to driveways and around curbs.
Speaking of curbside views, the Aero side skirts frame handsome 19-inch TRD matte-black alloy wheels with red-painted brake calipers peeking out, – stunning! The back features a rear diffuser and a large black trunk spoiler, while massive dual exhausts with polished stainless steel TRD tips add cred and remind us of Toyota’s NASCAR Camrys. Red pinstriping and red TRD badging tie it all together.
We also found something interesting. While the Camry has been around for a while – even the TRD has been with us for a couple of years – everyone really responded our tester’s new-for –2022 Cavalry Blue with two-tone black metallic roof. It’s a rich, creamy blue and the two-tone really helps sell the coupe-like lines. People would come up and be amazed that this sporty sedan was a Camry. Changing hearts and minds, this TRD!
Interior with an Accent on Sport
Inside, the red TRD theme continues with embroidered headrests up front, red contrasting stitching throughout the cabin, including on the steering wheel, a TRD logo on the shift knob, TRD floor and trunk mats and red seatbelts. Along with the homage to red, you’re struck by the space – sporty or not, this one roomy, comfortable interior. Hey, it is a Camry, after all.
Toyota keeps the price down by giving you things like a stylish and sporty cloth SofTex®-trimmed front seats with white accents instead of leather, but we don’t mind, the seats are very supportive, and the cloth inserts are nice and grippy. The fat leather wheel and shift lever feel great in your hands, while paddle shifters put the automatic transmission at your fingertips. Sport pedals make sure your feet don’t feel left out.
The driver also gets a nice large set of analog gauges, although the red faces and needles are a little hard to read in daytime. More importantly, the info-tainment system has had a redesign, replacing the previous in-dash unit with a larger tablet-style display that enhances visibility. Our tester had the optional JBL sound system, that along with great sound, bumps the screen from 7” up to 9” making our WAZE map look great. The larger screen can also divvy up for a split screen, so you get multiple displays but all still at an easily legible size.
Designed to be Driven
You could be pretty happy with just the tough looks and sporty interior, but TRD doesn’t put their name on a poser. This Camry was designed to be driven!
The first big plus is under the hood. While most mid-size sedans are running a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, the TRD rolls with a naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter, V6. While this engine lives in a variety of Toyota products, in the Camry it’s special.
It starts with a deep “whump” at idle, thanks to the TRD cat-back dual exhaust, and even blipping the throttle gives an angry gurgle that gives you goosebumps. Connecting to that power is an 8-speed automatic that does double duty as a smooth and effortless conveyance around town but in Sport mode it fires off rapid shifts with a nice little punch in the back.
And you’ll be doing a lot of those shifts, because that V6 just sings as it goes to redline, and “bam” you pull off another gear and enjoy the song all over. And while this is front wheel drive, it is well sorted, you never feel the power trying to pull the car out of line.
Acceleration is about mid 5’s for 0-60 mph, not what we would call fast anymore, but certainly still quite quick, and it’s so much fun to get there.
When the road turns twisty, you’ll appreciate the nice steering hefty with a real feel of precision. The chassis gets the full TRD enchilada, with thick underbody braces to stiffen the chassis, TRD coil springs that drop the sedan ½ inch, and TRD stabilizer bars to banish roll.
The TRD shock absorbers are the key ingredient here, and they are beautifully tuned, giving a firm ride that’s never harsh, a perfect blend that lets you really dive into corners with confidence, yet on the open road it’s smooth and comfortable like any other Camry. Those big 19-inch wheels and tires serve up loads of grip, and the brakes are notable for excellent feel and loads of stopping power.
Overall, the package reminds us of European brands like BMW and Audi, where all dimensions of performance are beautifully balanced and create a sum that’s greater than the already great parts. Yes, in a Camry!
How Much for a Hot Rod Camry?
Here’s the best part. Instead of building the TRD on the highest trim level, Toyota used a mid-level spec to keep things affordable. Your most basic Camry now starts around $25,845. A great deal for a roomy and comfortable sedan. The top-of-the-line XSE V6 starts at $36,270, and it’s easy to get over $40,000.
Our TRD started at $32,910, and if you forego any options, that’s one heck of a performance and style bang for the buck. Our tester also had the Calvary Blue/Two-tone paint ($500), The JBL Premium Audio package with Summer Tires ($2,085) and delivery ($1,025), so we rang the bell at $36,520. A nice touch, Toyota throws in the first two years of service, gratis.
To find that blend of performance and specialness, competitors would include the Subaru WRX, which is a bit smaller, but tremendous fun to drive. Comparably equipped, the Rex would be $39,470. The Acura TLX is a dead-on competitor, but at $54,625 it’s price puts it in a another league. And if you fancy a European model, the BMW 340i starts at $54,670. So, overall the TRD is an impressive value.
Fast, stylish, and comfortable, the 2022 Camry TRD V6 is a performance bargain!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.