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The Toyota Camry of old was less exciting than a pair of athletic socks hiding under beige khakis. Yet, it was as ever-dependable, reasonable, and trustworthy as your local mail carrier. As an affordable midsize car, it helped drivers across the demographic spectrum retain reliable transportation on a budget. But now, the Japanese giant has given its beloved Camry a performance-enhanced makeover.

After its time in training, the Toyota Camry TRD hit the ground running. The results were good enough for U.S. News to put it on its list of reasonably priced high-horsepower cars.

What’s so great about the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD?

When the eighth-generation Camry was revealed in 2017, Toyota gave it a much more aggressive look. With flared nostrils, side aero skirts, and rear diffusers, albeit non-functional, it looked like no other midsize Toyota. Complete with a distinct rear spoiler and a quad-tip exhaust, the sporty sedan features a retuned suspension. 

In the Camry TRD, a rear multi-link system replaces the double wishbones, and the car sits 0.6 inches lower than the regular models, Car and Driver says. The Camry TRD also gets 12.9-inch dual-piston, ventilated front brake rotors and 11.1-inch solid rear discs in the back. The car sits on stylish 19-inch TRD matte-black alloy wheels all around.  

Most importantly, the engineers at Toyota were able to coax more power out of the Camry TRD’s 3.5-liter V6. It’s almost weird to say it, but customers can now get a Toyota Camry with 301 horsepower. Such an increase means the sedan has a very non-Camry get-up-and-go attitude.

All the sportiness aside, consumers still get a reliable car. Like any Camry, it’s likely to last far beyond 200,000 miles without major repairs. Moreover, part of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that birthed the athletic Camry is a better interior fit and finish. 

TNGA also provides customers with more tech, more standard equipment, and better build quality, says Toyota UK Magazine. But buyers also get more choices of colors and fabrics. For instance, you can even get a Camry TRD with red leather seats.

Is the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD fast?

With a curb weight of just over 3,500 pounds, the Camry TRD weighs less than the Ford Mustang GT Fastback. Even though the Camry doesn’t have a 5.0-liter V8, it’s no slouch. HotCars asserts the Camry TRD will do 60 mph from a standstill in 5.6 seconds. Such is an improvement of nearly two seconds over the non-TRD Camry.

Some may think pushing 300+ ponies through the front wheels is too much. Asking the front wheels to steer and handle 301 rampaging Japanese stallions can cause chaos. The possibilities are torque steering into whomever you’re racing between the lights and understeering into the closest curb. Due to its lower center of gravity, enhanced suspension geometry, and increased torsional chassis rigidity, however, it handles power well.

The 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque are sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift mode. Yet, the sixth gear has a 1:1 ratio, Car and Driver says, so seven and eight are overdrive gears. While the transmission is built to give a good balance of responsiveness, smoothness, and fuel economy, it has driver-select modes to augment performance. With Eco, Normal, and Sport drive modes, customers can enrich throttle response and kick down for a more rewarding drive.

Is the 2022 Toyota Camry TRD a good buy?

The 2022 Toyota Camry TRD, a V6 car
2022 Toyota Camry TRD | Toyota

Toyota Camry TRD vs. Dodge Charger SXT

Although sporty sedans are centered around performance, not all of them take safety as seriously as Toyota. The Camry TRD has a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and is a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It’s also chock full of driver-assistance features in Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5+.

Out of all nine Toyota Camry trim levels, the TRD is the second-priciest. Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s eye-watering. The Camry TRD starts at a perfectly respectable $34,005. A comparable E-class Mercedes will fetch nearly double that, not to mention other fast German four-doors. Plus, the Camry TRD’s red leather seats look better.