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JamesK
New Driver

2022 Toyota Camry XSE V6

Most automotive journalists seem to know exactly how to start a car review without fumbling their words, or directly quoting the manufacturer on what their car is supposed to feel like while driving. I’ve seeked wisdom from my stacks of Car And Driver magazines on how to start this, but then I remembered what Nathen Adlen of The Fast Lane told me: I need to just sound like myself, and not anyone else. And while I’m no Nathen Adlen, or Elana Scherr, I figure I can sound like myself and be just as credible as the professionals… Hopefully...

 

As dealerships have been collecting cobwebs for the past year, it’s a miracle to see new cars land on their lots whenever they arrive on the backs of carriers. Even though these shipments are few and far between, it’s still a means for celebration. The last shipment to Price Toyota in New Castle, Delaware, included a 2022 Camry XSE V6. The most important part of that title is V6. I have a soft-spot for all Camry’s, they just work. I drive a 2008 V6 Camry, and I honestly can’t complain about anything, really! The seventh generation Camry was recently refreshed for the 2021 model year, which included changes to the front facia, rear tail-lights, and center infotainment screen. I don’t personally like white cars, but the two-tone midnight black roof over wind-chill pearl is quite the stylish option. The black trunk-lid spoiler, mirror caps and wheels complement the black leather interior, but I think I’d prefer the cockpit red leather that Toyota offers, and the windows slightly tinted.

 

The biggest difference between the six-cylinders and four-cylinders is power, obviously, but hear me out. The 2.5 inline-four is rated at 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, which is perfect for commuters and city-goers alike. That being said, if you’re more likely to be doing long-distance driving, or you feel the need, the need for an unnecessary amount of horsepower in a Toyota Camry, the V6 is your best bet. The 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque clearly has enough oomph to pull itself down the highway and get you to work on-time. The ride is Lexus-like thanks to the Camry’s TNGA platform used in both Toyota and Lexus products, and steering is properly stiff in the corners, but silky-smooth when maneuvering through parking lots. The V6 comes with an 8-speed transmission that, if you get bored, can be knocked into sport mode and be shifted using the gear lever or wheel-mounted paddles. The shifts are smooth and predictable in automatic mode, and surprisingly not as sluggish in sport mode when you squeeze the paddles. Overall the V6 has a more solid driving experience than that of the four-cylinder, unless you’re comparing it to the XSE AWD (only available with the 2.5 I4), in which case the difference is slight, but the AWD is still noticeably whimpier. The only way I can sum-up the experience is, if your grandfather, who’s usually quiet and keeps to himself, cracks a joke at the dinner table so well executed, you’re not really sure it actually happened. It’s just a Camry at first glance, but then you pull onto the highway and are surprised with a bit more kick than expected from the last true “dad-mobile”. 

 

New Camry’s start at $25,295 for the 4-cylinder LE’s, and the cheapest V6 hides in the $32,360 TRD. The base price for an XSE V6 is $35,720 but you can quickly jack-up the cost with additional packages and dealer options. The Camry I tested came in at $40,207, and before you go screaming around the corner at the fact that a new Camry costs over forty grand, look at how much you’re getting. This popular sedan has moved up in the world, and really does show you where your money’s going both inside and out. New cars are getting more luxurious than they used to be, and with that, comes a heftier price tag stuck to the window. It has a quality interior that will last for years to come, and has a powertrain with a rock-solid reputation to ensure peace of mind for tens of thousands of miles. It makes no sense on paper, but after you’ve merged with traffic in it, turned into a corner quicker than anticipated, or passed semi’s on two-lane roads, you’ll understand why it might be worth taking a look at. Toyota has said that they’ll no-longer offer a V6 in the Camry after 2023, and while that’s both unfortunate and not entirely unexpected, it does mark the end of Toyota saying “the Camry is fine as it is, but it could have more.”

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