When Toyota first came out with the Toyota Prius, the powertrain was so far from the mainstream it was destined to be in its own vehicle. But Toyota has perfected the hybrid powertrain and has made it commonplace. In addition to the Prius, I’ve tried it in the Sienna minivan and the RAV4 SUV.
The 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid brings the fuel-sipping savings of the Prius to a mainstream sedan package. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Prius, but some people do just want to blend in with the crowd. The Camry Hybrid allows you to experience the benefits of a hybrid in a comfortable package that’s familiar to buyers who don’t want to be different. For example, a lot of people aren’t a fan of the shifter on the Prius, which requires the driver to slide a small joystick to the left and then push it up or down. The Camry Hybrid uses the park-reverse-neutral-drive standard that most customers are used to.
It’s not a knock to say I would wholeheartedly recommend the Camry Hybrid to my mom, a tech Luddite. The hybrid system blends seamlessly into the background, so you don’t even know it’s working. The Camry Hybrid is the perfect vehicle for those who don’t want to think about sport driving, refueling or plugging in – they just want to get in the car and go. And that isn’t a knock – it is the perfect daily commuter.
Shifting With Ease
When you fire up the Camry Hybrid, if the ambient temperature is close to normal, you hear, well nothing. The major difference is just looking for the green Ready indicator in the instrument cluster and then you can shift into drive. Until the powerplant needs extra energy from the gasoline engine, the ride remains silent.
The Camry Hybrid powertrain is the most efficient and powerful offered since the Hybrid debuted for 2007. The super-efficient Toyota Hybrid System combines the output of the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, while using that motor and a second motor for hybrid battery charging. Competitors from General Motors use a different type of system, and Toyota shows how it perfected its hybrid system.
In the Hybrid, the gas engine employs an even higher 14:1 compression ratio and is tuned to produce 176 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. Paired with the 118-horsepower electric motor, the total Hybrid system net output is 208 horsepower. Hitting the gas pedal to the floor offers an unexpectedly quick experience in a Camry Hybrid.
Toyota’s Wonderous Design
The lithium-ion Hybrid battery pack is installed beneath the rear seat and doesn’t reduce passenger room or trunk capacity. According to Toyota, the battery’s position also contributes to a lower center of gravity. Along with the Camry Hybrid’s traditional Normal, Eco and EV drive system modes, a Sport mode allows for an increase in power from the hybrid system for improved acceleration response relative to throttle pedal input.
The Camry Hybrid also features a clever Auto Glide Control. It helps to enhance fuel efficiency by calculating efficient coasting logic. This allows the Camry to coast longer, enhancing fuel economy. When the Eco mode is engaged, you’ll rarely visit the gas station. My tester showed a 650-mile range after a fill-up.
If the regular Camry Hybrid is a bit too plain, there’s the option of setting it off in the Nightshade model, with its 18-inch black wheels and black shark fin antenna, window trim, badging, door handles and mirror caps. All Camry models for 2022 also get a dose of tech and luxury with a floating multimedia screen in 7- or 9-inch sizes, plus a herringbone upholstery pattern on the XLE grade.
Toyota Safety Sense
The nice thing about a Toyota vehicle is that it comes standard with all the safety goodies you would expect in a luxury sedan. But the most important element is the adaptive cruise control that comes from the factory. This luxury feature allows you to mellow out during a commute. Although you still have to keep your eyes on the road, this feature alone leads many enthusiasts to Toyota for their daily drivers.
It also allows you to enjoy the JBL audio system. It features an 800-watt amplifier and nine speakers plus a subwoofer. I was impressed by the volume capabilities of this OEM offering, but more bass is welcome. An additional subwoofer in the trunk would fix that. The JBL system is paired with Dynamic Navigation, which provides over-the-air updates and includes a three-year trial.
With 52 mpg combined and a price of $34K with all of the goodies, the Camry Hybrid is a well-engineered ride that can serve you for years to come.