Published on September 29th, 2023 | by Subhash Nair


2022 Toyota Camry 2.5 V Review: One For The Drivers

Back in early 2022, UMW Toyota gave the 8th generation Camry a facelift, with the highlights being a new Dynamic Force engine, 8-speed automatic gearbox as well as a smattering of upgrades to the equipment list. Aesthetically, there were some changes to the bumpers, grille, rim design, interior trim colour and dashboard layout too. Another big change came in the form of upgraded rear seats, which could be electrically reclined and featured a bunch of centralised controls in the fold-down armrest. It was more Lexus-like than ever and with a modernised drivetrain, the Camry was able to show the true sophistication of the TNGA-K platform.

The Writing On The Wall

The updated Camry was well received by the media and public despite being fully-imported from Thailand and more expensive than ever. That being said, this particular type of vehicle – the D-segment sedan – has been waning in popularity as of late. Edaran Tan Chong Motor pulled the Nissan Teana from showrooms in Malaysia by 2019, while Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia took their Passat out of prodution some time in the last year too. Meanwhile Korean carmakers too have either quietly dropped or refused to launch new versions of their Sonata and Optima. Then last month came the final hammer blow with Honda Malaysia announcing that the new Accord would also be skipped.

Toyota Camry front face

That leaves the Toyota Camry as the last ‘man’ standing in this arena. In a way, the Camry’s days might be numbered too. In Japan, the Camry was discontinued after more than four decades on the market. Should its popularity dwindle in South East Asia, we may be looking at a ‘last ever’ Camry generation, but is just speculation. On the other hand, the Camry is now a more competent product than it has ever been. It’s more luxurious and dynamic than any of its predecessors. Plus, as we alluded to earlier, it has no direct competitors left in this space save the Mazda6, which hasn’t seen a generational change since 2012.

With all this in mind, we decided to take the Camry for a drive to and from Johor Bahru for our test drive. The journey southward was done on the PLUS highway while the trip back up was done almost entirely on B-roads. Here’s what we found.

The Camry Is A Driver’s Car

It may be difficult to accept, but the new Camry is actually really communicative with a nicely weighted steering wheel and a floor-mounted throttle pedal. The new engine and gearbox combination is definitely a step up from the outgoing pair up. There’s a noticeable boost in power and torque but it’s the responsiveness of the setup that feels like the biggest improvement in terms of performance.

On the PLUS highway, the Camry is comfortable and slightly quieter than in this facelift. As a large sedan, you have an excellent vehicle for moving four plus size adults – 5 if the occupants are medium or smaller in build. I found the Toyota Safety Sense system very reliable and could lean on it to relieve me of some fatigue thanks to adaptive cruise and lane keeping. The combination of radar, camera and well calibrated software is to be commended – not every brand gets it right. The overall impression was that of a sophisticated ride – one that could send the driver all the right signals but isolate the passengers from the same.

On my drive through the B-roads of Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca, I found the Camry really came alive. The car is lower to the ground than you may realise, plus the seat is mounted low as well. This puts your posterior just inches off the tarmac and gives the driver an increased sensation of speed and a deeper connection to the vehicle. Plus, being lower in the car gives you the furthest forward visibility as you’re eye naturally gazes parallel to the road rather than at an angle downward.

The Dynamic Force engine is responsive, loves to rev but has enough torque low down to disappear when cruising. That being said, the decision not to turbocharge might be a bit baffling. There isn’t even a hint of that instantaneous torque that many customers have started to become accustomed to in the age of EVs. Instead, what you have is a classic sporty tuned engine that rewards an experienced driver’s inputs. The 8-speed gearbox is intelligent and shifts smoothly. I never found the need to use the paddle shifters, but it’s good they’re there I suppose.

Lexus-Like Looks

In terms of design, the new Camry facelift brings some small changes but overall keeps to its sleek and sporty direction. Our test unit had an impressive high quality white paint option on with little flecks for a nice sparkle. Overall, it’s the best the Camry has looked in decades and works great if you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself while still looking respectable.

Inside, there’s a similar thing going on. It’s a mostly black affair with a new colour for the accent pieces and a new infotainment system and rear armrest controls. The look isn’t particularly exciting, but the finish is high quality and durable with just the right amount of flair. Ergonomics are well thought out and it’s nice to see that the rear occupants aren’t neglected. The seats at the back can recline and occupants here have their own climate controls and climate zone. There are USB ports for charging, ‘chauffeur controls’ and dedicated media and rear sunshade controls.

The Camry In The Buying Market

In terms of value, UMW Toyota are charging RM219,800 which is actually cheaper than the Mazda6 2.5L. I can’t fault the pricing given the current economic realities, but it’s also not easy to justify. The Camry was once the king of the hill in terms of sales and now as a product, Toyota have brought it to new heights. It’s an apex internal combustion engine predator in an age of electric vehicles. There are parallels to the T-Rex during the K-T extinction here, but I don’t think I’m going to explore that metaphor.

Unfortunately the reality is that many shoppers with RM220,000 to spend are going to look at a new Tesla or BYD product. Conservative ICE buyers might go for a Japanese SUV instead. The D-segment sedan has well and truly lost almost its relevance to all but the old fashioned and the enthusiasts among us. It feels strange to say this but if you’re in the market for a driver’s car at this price point, you can’t go wrong with the Toyota Camry 2.5 V.

2022 Toyota Camry 2.5 V Specifications

Engine: Inline-4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Petrol
Capacity: 2,487cc
Gearbox: 8-speed Conventional Automatic
Max power: 206hp @ 6,600rpm
Max torque: 253Nm @ 5,000rpm
Price: RM219,800

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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