2022 Toyota Camry XSE Hybrid

April 22nd, 2022 at 2:48pm


Remember when hybrids were only marketed to tree-hugging environmentalists who probably hated cars but were grudgingly willing to drive an eco-conscious sedan? Well, those days are over. With the Camry XSE hybrid, Toyota is sending out a clear signal that it’s making hybrids for anyone who wants to buy one—even car enthusiasts.

The XSE looks a lot like the performance-oriented TRD version of the Camry. It sits low to the ground, has blacked out grille and mirrors, is shod with low profile Bridgestone Potenza tires mounted on black sport wheels, has a faux rear splitter, as well as a lip spoiler on the trunk, and twin, chrome exhaust tips! My we’ve come a long way from the original frumpy Prius.

But the looks are all for show. Under the hood you get the same hybrid powertrain that you’ll find in any Camry. That includes a 175 hp 2.5 liter IC engine along with an 118 hp electric motor. Add the two together and you get nearly 300 hp. But that’s not what makes it way to the wheels. Toyota says the combined power nets out at 208 hp.


That’s enough ponies to provide adequate acceleration, but I’ve yet to meet any enthusiast who went out shopping for performance that was “adequate.” Besides, as good as Toyota is at making hybrids, they’re just not as satisfying to drive as a regular IC or electric car. While the two hybrid power units mesh together well, they don’t provide that direct go-pedal response you get in non-hybrid cars.

Instead, the electric motor responds first, followed quickly by the IC engine, and then the power runs up and down the rev range as it’s fed through the continuously variable transmission. Yes, it all works well but true-believers want to feel more of a direct connection to their machines.


Of course, there is a payoff for the penance you pay by driving a hybrid: fantastic fuel efficiency. The XSE hybrid is rated at 46 mpg, which is down from the 51 mpg rating of the run-of-the-mill Camry hybrid, but well above the 31 mpg of the non-hybrid.

Numbers like that will pull people into the showroom. So will the price. The XSE hybrid starts at $34,445 which is kind of a screaming bargain these days.

You get a lot for your money. A solid, quiet car that delivers sensational mpg numbers and looks you look like you’re driving a bad-ass performance machine—even if the aura is only skin deep.

By: John McElroy

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