Comfort is the key word here, as you get all the fixings, including: Three-zone climate control; Leather-trimmed, ventilated and heated front seats; 10-way power drive seat with power lumbar support; heated rear seats; Smart Key system with push button start; plus power rear window sunshade. There is also a power moonroof.
And on the exterior, not always a strong suit of Toyota vehicles, the design is actually quite attractive, so that’s another plus.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
Using Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, the Avalon hybrid features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor to provide 200 horsepower.
The Avalon hybrid offers a quiet and comfortable ride, responsive to driver commands, but power is where it’s most lacking. It has a sport mode, but the vehicle labors/whines at times when pushed. This is not a powerful vehicle overall, which is generally the case when you’re talking about a hybrid, though to be fair hybrid shoppers are more interested in fuel economy than power most of the time.
One other note from my experience in the Avalon hybrid is that it struggles in the snow, due to FWD being the only option.
Toyota is one of the companies that has been a leader in standardizing safety features on its vehicles, and the Avalon hybrid is no exception.
The standard “Toyota Safety Sense P” package includes: Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; Lane departure alert with steering assist; plus automatic high-beams and dynamic radar cruise control.
Also featured on the Avalon are: Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert; Anti-theft system with engine immobilizer; Anti-lock brakes; Rain-sensing windshield wipers and more.
Inside the vehicle, you can charge your phone wirelessly.
The Entune infotainment system includes navigation and an App Suite, all accessible via a 7-inch touch screen. Audio options include AM, FM, CD, AUX and USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio with a three-month trial; plus a backup camera display. A premium JBL audio system is offered that features 11 speakers.
The overall infotainment setup on the Avalon (and Toyota’s overall lineup) looks a bit outdated when compared to other automakers’ systems, but it remains easy to control via large physical buttons and dials, plus the touchscreen and steering wheel controls. Voice controls also work well, whether searching for points of interest, finding directions, navigating audio sources, or even showing the weather map.
With ratings of 40 mpg city/39 highway/40 combined, the Avalon hybrid is easily the fuel mileage king in this category. Though in a way that’s made easier as there are no real direct competitors. None of the other large sedans for sale offer a hybrid version, so this is basically it. When you dip down in size a bit to midsize sedans, you get a buffet of hybrid options from Camry to Fusion to Sonata and beyond (many of which have better fuel mileage), but at full-size sedan you have only the Avalon hybrid available.
In my real-world testing, I pushed the Avalon as hard as I could (the opposite of fuel mileage driving), and I still managed about 34 mpg. Point blank: The fuel mileage is what’s going to sell this car.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
The 2018 Toyota Avalon has a starting price of $37,500, and my test vehicle came in at $44,302. That’s not a small number, and the reality is that due to its larger size and well-appointed interior, the Avalon is the most expensive non-luxury hybrid sedan you’re going to find. All the others are smaller midsize models and will cost less.
Other full-size sedan competitors include Chevy Impala, Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Kia Cadenza … but they’re not exact competitors for the Avalon hybrid, since they don’t have hybrid versions. These other full-size sedans compete more with the standard (non-hybrid) edition of the Avalon.
If power is your thing, I would skip the Avalon (both standard and hybrid versions), and instead head over to a Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, which are the power leaders in the segment.
Toyota reliability, which is well-established, should also be considered as you consider your overall cost of ownership over the vehicle’s lifetime.
As far as which customers will be willing to skip over all the smaller hybrid sedans and go right to the full-size Avalon hybrid, it’s for those who want the extra space and upgraded interior, and are willing to pay the price for it.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.