2022 Toyota Camry: family-car stalwart or sporty-sedan pretender?

2021 Toyota Camry TRD

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Toyota Camry different?

Nothing major as Toyota continues small but notable refinements to America’s best-selling midsize car. The 2022 Camry will return a broad lineup of gas and hybrid models, plus available all-wheel drive (AWD).

This five-passenger four-door will carry over model-year 2021 updates that tweaked styling, expanded safety features, and upgraded in-car connectivity. Along with the Nissan Maxima, it’ll remain one of two midsize cars available with a six-cylinder engine. It’ll also be one of five to offer AWD; the others are the Nissan Altima, Kia K5, Volkswagen Areton, and – with AWD standard — the Subaru Legacy. The 2022 Hyundai Sonata may also reportedly offer AWD. 

The Camry was last redesigned for model-year 2018, acquiring a new underskin architecture and a curvaceous body that traded some interior roominess for sleeker styling. While it’s still the most-popular midsize car, sales are suffering as buyers turn to crossover SUVs. Indeed, the RAV4 compact crossover has overtaken the Camry as Toyota’s top-selling vehicle. Some automakers in fact have discontinued their midsize cars, the Ford Fusion, Buick Regal, and Chrysler 200 among them. Other brands remain committed; the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Areton were recently refreshed, and the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima (renamed the K5) have been fully redesigned.

Note that driving impressions and other subjective conclusions in this review are based on road tests of 2021 Toyota Camrys. In areas where the ’22 might be different, we reserve judgment.

Should I wait for the 2022 Toyota Camry or buy a 2021?

2021 Camry XSE Hybrid

Buy a ‘21. Toyota could update the Camry again before its next full redesign, expected around model-year 2025. But the changes would be modest and wouldn’t alter the basic look, engineering, or feature set that arrived with the model-year-2021 refresh. Buying a ’21 could also make you eligible for Covid-19-related sales incentives that might not be in place once the ‘22s arrive.

Overall, the Camry will continue with flamboyant styling, a high-mileage hybrid option, and the all-weather security of available AWD. Selling points remain a reputation for reliability and resale value, plus complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first 2 years or 25,000 miles.

Expect the 2022 Camry lineup to mirror that of 2021. Gas-only four-cylinder and V-6 models should return five trim levels: LE, SE, SE Nightshade, XLE, and XSE. The racy TRD will likely remain V-6 only. The four-cylinder models should again be available with AWD as an extra-cost alternative to front-wheel drive. The 2022 Camry Hybrid should be back in LE, SE, XSE, and XLE form, all with front-wheel drive.

Will 2022 Toyota Camry styling be different?

2021 Camry TRD

There may be a new color choice or two, but 2022 Camry styling should carry over the 2021’s minor modifications. All models except the TRD got a revised front fascia — more refined-looking for the LE and XLE, bolder for the sporty SE and XSE. Most models also got revised alloy wheels, but sizes will remain 17-inch diameter for the LE (16 for the LE Hybrid), 18 for SE and XLE, and 19 for XSE and TRD.

The 2018 redesign aimed to transform Camry’s image, from family car to energetic sedan. The TRD carries that to an extreme. Named for the Toyota Racing Development department, it rides 0.6-inches lower than other Camrys, wears aggressive aero addenda, has a boy-racer rear spoiler, and uses matte-black wheels.

All-wheel-drive ’22 Camrys will again be distinguished solely by small trunklid badges. Hybrids get a blue Toyota grille logo. SE models have two chrome exhaust outlets; TRDs get partial dual-exhaust piping with twin stainless-steel tips. XSEs, including the Hybrid, and the TRD should again be available with a black roof. Expect the gas-only SE Nightshade edition to return with black-out wheels and exterior trim. LED high- and low-beam headlights will remain standard across the line.

2021 Camry XLE

Instrumentation is clear, controls easy to work while driving. The Hybrids will return specific gauge readouts for battery charge and energy flow. A head-up display that projects speed and other key data onto the windshield in the driver’s field of vision should continue as standard on the V-6 XLE and XSE. Remote keyless entry with pushbutton ignition should remain standard on Hybrids; on the gas-only XLE, XSE, and TRD; and optional on the other gas-only models. Look for the parking brake on AWD, V-6, and Hybrid models to again be controlled by a center console toggle rather than an underdash pedal.

2021 Camry TRD

All ’22 Camrys will benefit from new infotainment touchscreens that were part of the ’21 refresh. Replacing integrated 7- and 8-inch screens were tablet-type displays of 7 inches or, as standard on XLE and XSE and optional on LE and SE, a more impressive 9 inches. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support will again be standard. Imbedded satellite navigation that doesn’t require a cell signal should remain an extra-cost add-on for XLE and XSE models.

Expect 2022 LE grades to reprise cloth upholstery. The SE and SE Nightshade should retain Toyota’s SofTex imitation leather, the XSE and XLE models genuine leather. XSEs should again offer exclusive red leather with matching dash and door trim. The ’22 TRD will likely return with black SofTex-trimmed front buckets with fabric inserts, enhanced lateral bolstering, and red-stitched TRD embroidered headrests; a red-stitched leather-wrapped steering; and red seatbelts. XLE models should continue with imitation wood accents, XSE and TRD with faux metal trim.

2021 Camry TRD

Camry’s 2018 redesign increased its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) a significant 1.9 inches. That contributed to a more athletic stance, but passenger space decreased in key areas. Front-seat room will remain fine; even the very tall get sufficient legroom.

Camry’s back seat is no longer exceptionally family-friendly, though. The fastback roofline dictates a low seating position and restricts door openings. Most adults crane to climb in, then need to ride knees-up. Heated rear seats have not been available, but heated front seats should again be standard on XLE and XSE and optional on LE and SE (but not the TRD). Look for ventilated front seats to continue as an XLE and XSE option.

Props to engineers for packaging the Hybrid’s nickel-metal hydride battery pack under the rear seat so all 2022 Camrys share a 15.1-cubic-foot trunk. Volume is average for the class, but the unsheathed metal lid hinges scythe into carelessly placed cargo.

Any 2022 Toyota Camry mechanical changes?

2021 Camry XLE

Probably not. Expect the 2022 Camry to be a mechanical rerun of the ‘21. All gas-only models except the TRD should again come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine of 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque (206 and 186 on the XSE).

Standard on the TRD and optional on the gas XLE and XSE should again be a 3.5-liter V-6 with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Both engines would again link with an eight-speed automatic transmission; all but the LE have steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And all but the LE and SE should again feature console buttons to access Eco, Normal, and Sport powertrain modes

The AWD option almost certainly will again be limited to four-cylinder Camrys. The system normally operates in front-wheel drive and can automatically direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels to assist dry-road acceleration or when sensors detect front-tire slip on slick surfaces. When AWD isn’t needed, the rear propeller shaft automatically disengages to save fuel. 

2021 Camry TRD

In our tests, front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Camrys accelerate with as much or more verve than most base-engine-equipped midsize sedans. The engine note, however, is unrefined in all but gentle driving. Models with AWD weigh a nominal 165 pounds more than their front-drive counterparts so acceleration is about the same. Any shortfall is offset by the extra measure of straight-line traction in slippery conditions, a comforting attribute for snow-belt drivers.

Six-cylinder Camrys compete primarily with rivals that have turbocharged four-cylinder engines, which typically make more torque than this V-6. Torque is the key ingredient to acceleration. In our tests, V-6 Camrys furnish fine get-up-and go, with reserves of passing power the four-cylinder Camry’s can’t match.

2021 Camry TRD

However, fuel-saving calibrations force the transmission to favor high gear ratios. A serious prod of the gas pedal is required even in Sport mode to overcome lazy movement off the line or entice a downshift when you want to merge or overtake with authority. The V-6 is a smooth-runner, though, and torque steer — pulling to the side during rapid acceleration — is laudably a non-issue.

Our pick for the most well-rounded 2022 Camry remains the Hybrid. It’ll continue with a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine paired with electric-motor assist for a net output of 208 horsepower (Toyota doesn’t specify a torque figure). The transmission will again be a continuously variable automatic (CVT). A CVT performs the function of a conventional automatic transmission but without stepped gear changes. To make it feel more conventional, however, this one simulates six stepped gears and, on SE and XSE, includes paddle shifters for a semblance of manual-type gear control.   

2021 Camry XSE Hybrid

This is not a plug-in hybrid and cannot run on electricity alone for any appreciable distance. The battery recharges by recapturing energy otherwise lost to coasting and braking. Sensors automatically determine the best blend of gas power and electric assist to optimize fuel economy and performance.

With the instant torque electric-motor assist at the ready, the Hybrid is surprisingly quick and a far more engaging alternative to a gas-only four-cylinder Camry. The battery pack beneath the rear seat helps lower its center of gravity, a boon to handling stability. And with its 18-inch wheels, sporty suspension tuning, blackout grille and leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, the Hybrid SE and XSE have real character.

2021 Camry TRD

Any SE or XSE is a step up in road manners from an LE or XLE, which deliver a softer ride but feel less tamped-down. No ‘22 Camry is apt to shake your confidence. But transition quickly into a turn and you’ll discover a sense of harmony between steering and suspension is lacking. It’s what separates them from the best handlers in the class: the Honda Accord and Mazda 6, with the Sonata and K5 close behind.

The exception is the TRD. For quick response to steering input and grippy balance turns, the 2022 Camry TRD should remain a match for any rival. It’ll return with thicker underbody bracing, specific suspension components and brakes, and wider but lighter wheels. Except for its throater-sounding exhaust system – which is more reedy than resonant — it uses the standard V-6 powertrain, so it’ll likely continue to share the engine/transmission discord described above. And its firm ride can become uncomfortable on pockmarked pavement.

Will 2022 Toyota Camry fuel economy improve?

2021 Camry XSE Hybrid

Unlikely, and that should be fine. Expect 2022 Camry EPA ratings to repeat those of 2021, meaning the four-cylinder models and the Hybrid in particular will remain midsize cars with compact-car fuel economy.

Expect ’22 Camrys with the gas four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive to rate an impressive 28/39/32 mpg city/highway/combined in LE and SE form, and 27/38/31 in XLE and XSE guise. EPA ratings for 2021 Camrys with AWD were not released in time for this review, but our projection is 26/38/30 mpg city/highway/combined.

Look for EPA ratings of 2022 Camrys with the V-6 to again compare well with those of rivals with high-output turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Expect the XLE to again rate 22/33/26 mpg, the XSE 22/32/26, and the TRD 22/31/25 mpg. Our 2021 TRD review sample averaged a surprisingly frugal 27.5 mpg.

The 2022 Camry Hybrid will again with the LE likely to repeat at 51/53/52 mpg city/highway/combined, astonishing for a car of its size and performance. Expect SE and XLE grades to again rate 44/47/46. Camry Hybrids should again come with Toyota’s efficiency-enhancing Auto Glide Control, which reduces engine braking during coasting. All ’22 Camry models will again use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline.

Will there be new 2022 Toyota Camry features?

2021 Camry XLE

Toyota may shuffle some items among models or packages, but the feature set that came online with the model-year ’21 refresh should see Camry through to its next full redesign. A solid array of convenience and safety features will remain on hand, although we’d urge Toyota to rethink the available driver-assist technology.  

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.5+ will again be standard across the lineup. It consists of autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the car to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, bicyclist, or pedestrian. It also can apply the brakes it you’re about to turn left across oncoming traffic or into the path of a pedestrian. TSS 2.5+ includes highbeam headlights that automatically dim for oncoming traffic.

Expect 2022 gas-only LE and SE models to return with adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead. The balance of the line, including all Hybrids, should return with an enhanced cruise-control system that operates in stop-and-go traffic and can accelerate automatically when you activate the turn signal to pass a slower vehicle. Both systems feature Toyota’s Lane Tracing Assist, which can automatically steer the car to keep it centered in its lane. In our tests, Lane Tracing Assist worked well: not overly intrusive and with gentle steering inputs. It can be switched off.

Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection will likely remain standard on XLE, XSE, and TRD models and a stand along option on other 2022 Camrys, at around $600. Many competitors include this important driver assist as standard across lineups of vehicles less expensive than the Camry.

2021 Camry XLE

Also, Camry’s blind-spot system has lagged in technology, lacking automatic steering correction to prevent you from changing lanes into an unseen vehicle. It also makes a common adjunct — automatic braking to mitigate reversing into objects behind or into rear cross traffic – optional only on XLE and XSE models. That additional layer of protection has been part of the Driver Assist Package, a $2,375 option that should continue to also include a bird’s-eye camera, ventilated front seats and, for the four-cylinder XLE and XSE, the head-up display already standard on their V-6 counterparts.

In addition to features already mentioned, expect all ’22 Camrys to return with a power driver’s seat, with a power passenger seat standard on XLE and XSE. Heated mirrors should remain standard on the XLE, XSE, and TRD and optional for the other models. Among other notable options, a power moonroof should be available on all but the Hybrids, the SE Nightshade, and the TRD. A regular-sized moonroof should return as an option for the SE, at around $900. Expect a larger panoramic panel to again be an option for the four-cylinder XLE and XSE, at roughly $1,060, and standard on the V-6 XLE and XSE.

Look for imbedded navigation to add about $1,810 to the price of a ’22 XLE or XSE. The TRD and all XSE models should again offer a contrasting black roof at around $500. Dual zone automatic climate control should remain standard on XLE and XSE and optional for LE and SE.

Will 2022 Toyota Camry prices be different?

2021 Camry TRD

They’ll probably increase marginally, remaining slightly higher than the class average. Although Toyota frequently offers cut-rate financing incentives, direct discounts off the asking price are uncommon. Base-price estimates here include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which was $995 for model-year 2021 Toyota cars.

Expect the 2022 Camry LE to start around $26,925 with front-wheel drive and around $28,325 with AWD. For the ’22 SE, estimated base prices are $28,125 with front-drive and $29,525 with AWD; for the SE Nightshade, they’re $28,825 and $30,225, respectively.

With the four-cylinder engine, look for the ’22 XLE to be priced from about $31,410 with front-drive and from about $32,810 with AWD and for the XSE to start around $31,960 with front-drive and around $33,360 with AWD.   

The ’22 TRD should again be the most affordable Camry with a V-6, at an estimated $33,125 to start. Estimated base price is $35,535 for the ’22 XLE V-6 and $37,085 for the XSE V-6

Estimated base prices for the 2022 Camry Hybrid are $30,385 for the LE, $32,085 for the SE, and $34,600 for the XLE, and $35,000 for the XSE.

When does the 2022 Toyota Camry come out?

Expect a 2022 Camry release date in fall 2021.

Best 2022 Toyota Camry competitors

Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Arteon and Passat

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]