The latest 2022 Toyota Camry, first seen in Thailand earlier this year for the Asean market, finally breaks cover in the Philippines. Toyota points out that the Camry is actually a mild facelift of the current model, the XV70, and the exterior changes are indeed subtle. But the key differences are beyond skin deep.

The 2022 executive midsize sedan gets a more aggressive sportier front fascia. The grille and bumper get larger openings and a blacked-out finish. There’s a new chrome trim that runs the edge of the center intake. Last but not least, the Camry now rolls on stylish new design multi-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels shod with all-season touring tires.

Interior changes are equally small, but even more meaningful: there is a new 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB. The leather upholstery is slightly different from the outgoing model which helps provide a more premium look and feel. A revised instrument cluster also displays fuel consumption and hybrid system output to allow the driver to get the most out of the latest Camry.

A crucial upgrade is the new digital control panel on the rear center armrest. This allows the rear passengers to electronically adjust the rear seats, control the automatic climate control, and even set the doors to automatically open. Just like a proper boss.

Other key features present inside the updated Camry include a multi-zone automatic climate control system (left, right and rear passenger zones), sunroof, wireless phone charging, butterfly headrests, electronically assisted adjustable front seats, a powerful 9-speaker JBL surround sound system, and LED ambient lighting to give the Camry added chic and sophistication.

Under the hood, the 2022 Camry is now available with just one engine – a 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder, Atkinson-Cycle gasoline engine paired with an electric motor. That’s right, Toyota’s midsize sedan is now only offered as a hybrid. The Atkinson-cycle engine produces less heat at a lower compression, optimized for hybrid system performance. Floor the throttle and the Camry surprisingly lets out an urgent, aggressive and fruity exhaust note, overlaid with a healthy induction noise.

The internal combustion engine alone makes a respectable 176 hp at 5,700 rpm and 221 Nm of torque at 3,600 – 5,200 rpm. Meanwhile, the electric motor puts out 87 hp with 202 Nm of torque. Combined, the Camry Hybrid has a total system output of 208 hp. Seems low, but the internal combustion engine and the electric hybrid motor have different power peaks, which on the road helps deliver a broader, more muscular feeling power-band.

Mated to the hybrid powertrain is a E-CVT that drives the front wheels, delivering even more seamless, step-less and refined acceleration.

As befits any flagship Toyota model, the Camry has all the safety features like ABS-EBD brakes with emergency assist, traction and stability control plus a host of airbags.

For 2022, Toyota has levelled up the safety game with the Camry by equipping it with Toyota Safety Sense, an active safety system that continuously monitors the road conditions ahead, acting as the driver ’s extra pair of eyes and thus helping the driver avoid dangerous situations and accidents. These include a pre-collision system, front departure alert, lane departure assist, lane tracing assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam, and rear-cross traffic alert, bringing cars like the Camry even closer to autonomous and ideally, accident-free driving.

Initial impressions? The latest Camry is smoother, more refined, more cosseting yet surprisingly more involving to drive. The added muscle from the hybrid system also makes it more exciting to drive as there’s more available power low-down, making it an excellent A-road blaster, boulevard cruiser or long-distance cruise missile.

The 2022 Toyota Camry is now available at all Toyota dealerships nationwide at P2.335 million. White Pearl finish will see an extra P15,000 on top of the SRP — hiking the price up to P2.35 million.

Even as this segment slowly shrinks in size, and the automotive zeitgeist prefer tall-riding vehicles, the Camry delivers class, sophistication, confidence and pedigree in a handsome and elegant package sorely missing in a sea of SUVs.