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    2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid — First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Ninad Ambre

    25,682 Views
    Toyota Camry Left Front Three Quarter

    Why would I buy it?

    • Hybrid efficiency
    • Spacious and comfortable cabin/large boot space
    • Impressive reliability

    Why should I avoid it?

    • Ingress-egress not good for aged passengers
    • Dashboard feels dated
    • Expensive

    Summary

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Toyota Camry Hybrid is a premium executive sedan priced at Rs 41.7 lakh (ex-showroom). As a result, it goes up against the Skoda Superb, and even ventures into the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes A-Class territory. Yes, this Toyota doesn’t have the same snob value, but remains one of the unique long three-box sedans with its own USPs, like hybrid power, focus on rear-seat comfort, etc. — all of which we will get to in a bit. Camry is Toyota’s only sedan in India and now gets cosmetic updates and new features in its eighth-gen avatar.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Engine and Performance

    8 / 10

    Engine Shot

    Straight to its USP — the powertrain. The Camry, though powered by a 178bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, it's a self-charging hybrid car and comes paired with a 120bhp permanent magnet synchronous motor. This helps it put out a combined power output of 218bhp and it comes mated to an automatic gearbox (CVT). It's a very silent car, so much so that the engine couldn't be heard inside, especially with the blower on in this sweltering heat. Nonetheless, it’s fairly silent and refined, and you won't instantly realise if it's running on electric power or not.

    Infotainment System

    Now, the car starts in EV mode if the charge isn't used up and shows a green EV indication on the instrument cluster. Otherwise, it switches to the petrol mill and the transition is very smooth. Still, continuous efforts for regen go on while coasting and braking. Yes, this electric motor is dependent on the petrol motor, but this hybrid system efficiently switches between the IC engine and electric power source seamlessly. There's no jerk or jolt, and at city speeds, this also proves to be beneficial for offering higher efficiency. In our highway fuel efficiency tests it returned 18.52kmpl, while in the city — 18.16kmpl. The EV mode, despite its limited range, helped in cutting off the engine, used the electric power, and eventually added to the range. Besides, it’s impressive, given it's a heavy car at 1,700kg.

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Once you step hard on the gas pedal, the engine kicks in and takes over from the all-electric drive and gives a nice shove darting ahead. The well-judged throttle response ensures there's no delay while also not being snappy in feedback. Here, the e-CVT further helps provide smooth acceleration and linear power delivery. That said, the speed build-up is gradual and quick overtakes will need to be planned for this lengthy car. Still, the transmission can be worked through the paddle shifts, which gives you a better sense of control and adds to the fun. However, this is where the engine noise can be heard with rising rpm that is also held on for longer by the CVT. That said, gentle throttle inputs still work while cruising on the highway, and coasting only further adds to better fuel efficiency.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Ride and Handling

    7.5 / 10

    Front View

    And since we are speaking of the highway, passengers are going to be very comfortable with its pliant ride. Even at slow speeds for that matter. Also, while most crossover buyers today dream and boast of going on an off-road adventure, a lot end up using it within the confines of the city. But when it comes to doing cross-state runs, the Camry won't face major issues in taking diversions. We never felt nervous while taking the numerous speed-breakers in its stride on the way to Karjat and back. And never did it scrape its under-belly, not even once. But you will have to be careful and can’t just glide over rough sections given its low overhangs. Yet, there's good suspension movement and it does absorb the undulations pretty well. However, here the wider contact patch and slimmer sidewalls of the 235/45 R18 sized Bridgestone tyres add to some noise.

    Left Side View

    The latter, though, helps in providing a good grip to the car, making it stable and well-planted on the road. Chuck it into a corner and the Camry manages to hold its line but resisting that body roll isn't easy. The steering does provide sufficient feedback but doesn't feel engaging at all. You'd rather take the corner slowly and keep the occupants in one place and more comfortable. Besides, judging the four corners of the car might feel cumbersome due to its length. Also, a larger turning radius of 5.8m means one will have to be extra cautious while taking it out of a tight parking spot or narrow driveways. On the braking front, there's a good feel at the pedal along with sufficient bite. Moreover, the discs at all four corners help cut speed quickly and confidently bring this heavy car to a stop.

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Interior Space and Quality

    7.5 / 10

    Front Row Seats

    The interior is slightly tweaked with the highlight being a larger floating 9.0-inch infotainment screen, which replaces the previous integrated 8.0-inch screen. Look closely, and you'll notice that the AC vents have been repositioned below the display. Then, there's a new trim finish for the dashboard, centre console, and even armrests, adding to the appeal. The quality of materials used is good, but the design still looks dated. High riding vehicles and SUVs have spoilt everyone as these cars are easier to get into and out of. On the other hand, the low stance of the sedans means the elderly find them difficult to access, like the Camry.

    Second Row Seats

    The good thing, however, is that the car is spacious for four. Although it can accommodate a third person in the second row, it's better not to, as the middle seat is upright and the floorboard hump for the transmission tunnel will make things uncomfortable. The rest of the seats provide good legroom, are supportive, and get electronic adjustments at the touch of a button. In fact, the rear seats can be reclined by a special touch display in the centre rear armrest. Here, there's even an access hatch to reach out to the stuff kept in the boot. And at 524-litre, all your luggage will be stowed out of your sight but in a secure place.

    Open Boot/Trunk

    Features

    7 / 10

    Dashboard

    The Camry is pretty well-equipped for a single fully-loaded trim. Its touchscreen infotainment system is paired to a nine-speaker JBL audio system, supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and gets improved software. There’s cruise control, a reverse camera, an electric sunroof, a wireless charging pad, and even a head-up display. Moreover, there are powered and ventilated front seats with a memory function for the driver’s seat, power-reclining rear seats, powered sunshades for rear passengers, and many more luxurious features. Still, compared to the competition, it should have had some high-end feel-good features, like a 360-camera. Meanwhile, the safety equipment includes nine airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, etc., all that one can expect from a car in its class.

    Instrument Cluster

    Conclusion

    7.5 / 10

    Right Side View

    The Toyota Camry Hybrid with its spacious cabin, features, efficiency, refinement, and overall ease of driving can still stand up strong against the new-age SUVs storming the market. Yes, it might not literally stand as tall and won't smother bad roads. But then, it’s a sedan with great seats, is quiet, stable, and comfortable to drive at highway speeds, making itself a perfect grand-touring vehicle. It has the capability to reduce fatigue over a very long drive and then also has a good safety margin overall. Then, the Hybrid tech helps reduce the carbon footprint and even betters the driving range. It’s in fact, a torch-bearer for the last few luxury sedans that can be recommended to anyone.

    Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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