2022 Toyota Camry TRD: Sporty Camry is Missing a Few Bits and Bobs

Strong points
  • Powerful and flexible V6
  • Striking looks
  • Proven reliability
Weak points
  • No AWD with the V6
  • A few desirable features are missing
  • Ride is kind of stiff
Full report

The Toyota Camry is by far the most popular midsize sedan in the country thanks to a comfortable ride, strong reputation for dependability and a large selection of models catering to many different drivers. There are 18 of them for 2022, split among three powertrain options.

When you combine the 3.5-litre V6 engine with the TRD package (limited availability), you get a decidedly sporty and powerful family car. However, there are some compromises that come with it, forcing customers to make a tough choice.

“That’s a Camry?”

For sure, the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD makes a big statement with its striking exterior—bigger than any direct competitor, in fact. The lower body extensions, 19-inch TRD wheels in a matte black finish, red brake callipers and dual TRD exhaust finishers are just the start. The badges, mirror caps and roof are all black, as is the large and aggressive spoiler in the rear. With our tester’s Cavalry Blue body on top of that, the result is quite eye-catching.

The interior stands out just the same, with two-tone TRD seats in Softex synthetic leather and fabric, red seat belts and stitching, sport pedals, TRD floor mats and a unique shifter. The rest is pretty much standard Camry attire.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Comfort and Convenience Compromised

We like those seats, but they’re clearly designed for larger drivers and therefore lack lateral support when hitting fast corners. The driving position is good, and we can’t complain about visibility thanks to the thin A-pillars. Too bad for the front passenger, the seat controls are manual only in TRD trim.

As a matter of fact, a few desirable amenities are missing here. The TRD package eliminates the panoramic roof found in the XSE V6 model and includes the standard 7-inch centre display instead of the larger 9-inch unit. Automatic climate control is part of the mix, but not the dual-zone variant that allows the driver and front passenger to each set their own temperature. Another feature that’s been removed is remote start.

Simply put, the TRD (starting at $37,580) is the cheapest of the V6-powered Camrys and the level of content is more similar to an SE. It’s a sportier Camry at a great price, but compromises have to be made on a daily basis.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

The Lone V6 Contender

Just like Toyota took its sweet time launching a battery-electric vehicle, the Camry’s 3.5-litre V6 soldiers on instead of being replaced by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine like most competitors have. While fuel consumption is worse (over 9 L/100 km on average), we don’t mind it at all.

This mill shows beautiful flexibility and teams up with an eight-speed automatic transmission that does great work most of the time (FYI, the available manual mode is smoother and more fun to use with the shifter than the paddles on the steering wheel). The sound of the TRD exhaust is quite pleasant, and what about those 301 ponies under the hood? Can’t really ask for more.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

That being said, the V6-powered Camry V6 is fairly heavy at 1,620 kilograms, power is transfered exclusively to the front wheels, and the 267 pound-feet of torque are less than what you get with the aforementioned turbo-fours, so acceleration from a standstill takes a hit. You’ll still reach triple-digit speeds in about 6.5 seconds. Sport mode doesn’t really change things.  

It’s a shame that the Camry’s AWD system can only be had with the base engine, a naturally aspirated four-pot delivering just over 200 horsepower. Kia K5 GT customers are facing a similar dilemma, and that’s quite frustrating for those having to deal with tough weather conditions. If you want a spirited engine and AWD at the same time, you need to turn to the Subaru Legacy, a pretty decent alternative which happens to be refreshed and updated for 2023.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Have Fun, Daddy!

What else can we say about the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD? The specially tuned suspension and reinforced chassis make for better handling, which is nice. On the other hand, it’s not the comfortable Camry you may be familiar with. You’ll enjoy the drive, but your passengers may complain about the stiffer ride. Steering is firmer, too, and we appreciate the increased feedback it provides.

So, who is the Camry TRD designed for? The answer is any SUV- or minivan-hating mom or dad who wants to get a kick out of driving while fulfilling their family duties at the same time. We’d prefer it with AWD and a few extra features, even if that means paying a bit more, but sadly that’s not the case.

By the way, other than an updated Nightshade Edition, the Camry is unchanged for 2023, and Toyota’s new multimedia system is another year away. The next generation is expected to debut for 2024 (same thing for the Honda Accord), and the lovely V6 may not be around by then.

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