The 2022 Toyota Camry TRD is Toyota’s answer to the calls from the enthusiast crowd; the dads who needs an injection of adrenaline in their daily driver. They have decided to take the Camry up another notch from the sporty XSE with a dedicated TRD model. This car draws from the brand’s racing knowledge and experience to rev up its performance and appearance. It’s exciting news, as the Camry has never been given any serious performance injection. Is all the hype going to be just a badge and fancy body parts, or is there really substance to this machine?
The Camry TRD takes inspiration from its NASCAR variant. From a far, the stance and silhouette reminds of a hunkered down NASCAR ripping around the track at 300 km/h. The aerodynamic improvements are the responsibility of Toyota’s racing design studio. The TRD design enhances the aggressive XSE design with a front splitter, side aero skirt, trunk spoiler and rear diffuser. The black body kit contrasts with the Cavalry Blue body and the black roof.
The 19-inch matte black TRD wheels have a purposeful design rather than a flashy chrome finish. Filling in the large rear diffuser are dual brushed chrome TRD exhaust tips. Finishing of the racing inspired exterior is red pin striping, red brake calipers and red TRD badging adding a bit more aggression to a historically tame vehicle. The lowered suspension gives the Camry the stance needed to carry the aggressive body kit for a cohesive exterior design.
The interior of the Camry TRD is mostly standard affair, a spacious and ergonomically sound interior. The TRD package loses some luxuries compared to the standard XSE model. Instead of all Softex, it comes with Softex and fabric mixed seats. Red stitching with TRD embroidery and red seatbelts adds sporty flavour, and the wheel is leather trimmed with red stitching and paddle shifters for the full sports car experience. Even the carpets get red TRD embroidery to complement the aluminum pedals.
Despite losing some luxuries such as dual-zone climate control, sunroof, JBL audio and the XLE’s bigger screen. The TRD still receives a respectable seven-inch touchscreen infotainment with a 4.2-inch multi-information display in the cluster. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard, along with the latest Toyota SafetySense 2.5 active driver assistance suite. Despite a slightly pared-down interior, all the necessary equipment and creature comforts are still available for the Camry TRD to be an excellent daily companion.
Once you start driving the Camry TRD, it becomes evident that it isn’t just a Camry with TRD badges. There are substantial improvements that vastly improve the way the Camry handles. The wheels are not just for looks, they are wider and also 3.1 pounds lighter at each corner, wrapped in 235/40R19 tires. Further enhancements include stiffer springs, front and rear sway bars a long with TRD shocks tuned for the increased stiffness.
These enhancements are instantly noticeable with direct steering that has excellent response and feel. You can really feel the suspension tuning with the way it controls body motion over humps and undulations. The Camry stays flat through on ramps inspiring tons of confidence for spirited driving. It becomes an exciting experience to realize how much potential the TRD upgrades have uncovered from the TNGA chassis. The long wheelbase along with proper suspension tuning means the athletic handling characteristics doesn’t ruin the Camry’s comfort and daily drivability. The balance between performance and comfort is a stand out feature of the Camry TRD.
The Camry TRD is only offered with the 3.5-liter V6. The silky smooth engine equipped with VVT-I technology produces 301 horsepower at 6,600 RPM and 267 lb-ft. of torque at 4,700RPM. This setup has linear power delivery requiring the engine to be revved out, more thrilling experience becoming a rarity with turbo and hybrid tech becoming more common. The upgraded TRD cat-back exhaust sounds throaty without any drone or excessive noise. The exhaust is one of the best upgrades which really completes the special driving experience this package provides.
The engine is mated to an eight-speed ECT-I automatic gearbox with manual shift mode. There are optional drive modes available as well, to tune the transmission, engine response and vehicle characteristics. The TRD’s transmission tuning is quite aggressive even in its “Normal” mode. The Camry downshifts under acceleration unexpectedly however, we noticed it trying to hunt for gears more than expected. Shifting manually, the paddles respond decently on downshifts, though there is some lag on upshifts.
Toyota boasts the V6 powertrain to be powerful yet efficient. Fuel efficiency is rated at 10.8L/100km city and 7.6L/100km highway, for a combined 9.4L/100km. During our testing, we averaged 11.7L/100km on winter tires and mostly city driving. Buyers probably knows that what they will be expecting when they by a V6 vehicle. With fuel-prices skyrocketing, the Camry’s ability to take 87-octane regular fuel is much appreciated.
Another compelling proposition of the Camry TRD is its price point. At $37,040, it is the cheapest way for buyers to get into a Camry with the V6 engine. The only other V6 model available is the XSE at $41,390. The Cavalry Blue paint is the only additional option, at $540, bringing the as-tested sticker to $37,580. Where most competitors would charge more for a performance-oriented model, kudos to Toyota for keeping things reasonable.
The performance focus of the TRD model means it does not compete with its natural rivals such as the Honda Accord. The Accord does not offer any performance-oriented model that has a similar target as the Camry TRD. The closest competitor instead may be the Kia K5 which is similarly more performance focused. To get similar performance in the Kia requires $40,495 to get into the top-trim GT, though it does offer a more sophisticated interior and aims closer to the Camry XSE.
The 2022 Toyota Camry TRD is a pleasant surprise and a breath of fresh air for the Camry, now going into its 40th year of production. The availability of this option puts the Camry at the forefront for enthusiasts that require more space than the typical hot hatch or sedan, and away from any of its real competitors. This is an excellent daily companion with world class handling, and really is a unique offering that is unrivaled in the segment at a true bargain price.