Rental review: 2022 Camry

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Howdy, Bobbers. Just did a 1200 mile tour out west. Flew into Vegas, drove to Sacramento and back, with some sightseeing. Got a base model Camry from Budget with the 4 cyl and 8 speed automatic transmission.

The good:

Held the road well. 18" wheels. Tight ride without being punishing. Cornered well. Reported 33 MPG. AC worked well enough in 109-degree heat. LED headlamps are as good as my Prius, but probably as glary to oncoming drivers.

The bad:

Visibility. Thick A-pillars, thicker C-pillars. Blind spots galore. Took a lot of twisty turny roads climbing out of Death Valley and going into the Sequoia National Park, and the A-pillars blocked my view when making sweeping left turns.

User interface. Awful! Toyota took away the 4 o'clock cruise control button/lever thing they've had since the 90s, and gone with a button arrangement on the steering wheel. Harder to do by feel. Radar cruise works as well as it does on my Prius, nice. But the car uses an analog speedometer with a digital cruise set-point so it's not obvious when it starts losing speed due to a vehicle up ahead. Car was the base model with a 1.5" x 4" baby screen between speedo and tach. They tried squeezing in the speed limit sign display here, and it's tiny!

The car probably had a trip odometer, but I couldn't find it. This is one of those things that should be immediately obvious. Screen has a "map" button that declares it's an option not equipped to this car.

Transmission: Oh boy. I'd be climbing up a twisty turny road at 25 mph then lift off the gas to slow for an upcoming curve, and it would upshift! No fuzzy logic. Move the shifter lever to left of "D" and have manual control of the top gear, or, as an alternative, use the steering wheel flappy paddles. Gears 1, 2, and 3 were appropriately spaced, with 4 being a good "still accellerating" highway gear. So what do we do with gears 5-8? The car bounces through them rapidly, that's what! At least gear changes are swift and firm.

Electric throttle has anti-abuse programming that blocks swift acceleration, like from a stop sign into traffic. Brakes & steering are good.

This may be the BITOG darling for not having a CVT transmission, but I'd be happy to see it retire.
 
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I rent them all the time. You are exactly correct, the throttle has some strange programming.

I placed a block under the pedal and pushed it to the block. With a rock steady pedal positon, the speed dropped from well over the 65mph limit to about 45mph in about 3 minutes. Always with a constant feeling of "slowing".

I found the constant slowing made it infuriating to drive on the highway without the cruise control.
 
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Is there an “Econ” mode hidden somewhere in the car settings? Perhaps this was active during the rental?
 

eljefino

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Maybe! A green "eco" light came on when I wasn't dogging it. Just another "What is this blinking dash light" situation.
 
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Reminds me of the 2020 Tacoma TRD Off Road I had as a rental two years ago and wrote a mini review here. It was the worst driving vehicle I’ve driven in several decades.
 

Nick1994

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I wonder how a hybrid would compare. No dumb 8-speed auto and an electric motor for more response (maybe?). I think that’s what I’d have.
 
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The 2022 RAV4 I rented had the same 2.5 and 8 speed auto as the Camry has. I didn’t notice any weird throttle programming, and acceleration was okay for a crossover. What I didn’t like was how “gruff” sounding and feeling the engine was when accelerating. In comparison, my old K24 Honda sounds refined and is smooth under acceleration.
 
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I wonder how a hybrid would compare. No dumb 8-speed auto and an electric motor for more response (maybe?). I think that’s what I’d have.
The Hybrid Camry drives quite well. It is more responsive, I believe it's faster (feels faster) and responds smoothly to pedal inputs. It's a better car in every way. About the only complaint I have is a steady 4 cylinder engine drone under high acceleration. But I don't need it to mimic "shifts" to be happy. 4 cylinder appliance engines tend to sound awful to me regardless of the drive type or transmission type.

In fact, I'd say the Hybrid drive Camry moves the experience upscale quite a bit.
 

Shel_B

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I wonder how a hybrid would compare. No dumb 8-speed auto and an electric motor for more response (maybe?). I think that’s what I’d have.
All reports that I've read + a few comments from owners, suggest that's the way to go. The CVT is a CVT in name only, a totally different design from typical CVTs.
 
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We rented a 2020 or 2021 Camry a year ago and I thought it was the perfect modern day appliance vehicle. Enough power, reasonably programmed trnamssion (though as you said getting away from a stop was a bit slow), decent ho-hum styling and easy to use controls. My main gripe wasn't the drivetrain but the build quality. Interior bits were too plasticy and not tight screwed together. And opening and closing the doors you could tell there was a notable lack of solidly. Compared to our VW of the same era the Camry felt like it had tin doors vs the bank vault feeling doors in the Jetta. Even my 2012 Accord feels more solid than that Camry did.
 
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