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With new features and a fresh look, the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid should earn new respect as a top choice for a full-size hybrid sedan.
Exceptional fuel economy; upscale and quiet interior; roomy seating front and rear; large trunk.
Traditional Avalon buyers may find the ride too firm.
Available Avalon Hybrid Sedan Models
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The 2013 Toyota Avalon is fully redesigned and now offers a hybrid variant.
Somewhere along Toyota's laser-focused path to increased sales, the company forgot about building cars that connected to drivers on both practical and emotional levels. But the recently redesigned Camry sent the first signal that Toyota was serious about making engaging cars again, and now the 2013 Avalon Hybrid further reinforces the automaker's new priorities.
The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is, as the name suggests, the gas-electric version of the fully redesigned Avalon. Like its conventional gasoline-only counterpart, the hybrid shares a striking new look for Toyota's big sedan. Combined with roof pillars that sweep gracefully to the trunk -- not unlike the Cadillac XTS or Jaguar XJ -- and a rear end pulled together with LED taillamps extending into the trunk lid, the new Avalon looks sleeker in profile and makes an impression -- something we can't say about its sleepy predecessor.
The front-wheel-drive Avalon is wider, lower and more than 2 inches shorter than before. A stiffer body and revised suspension settings give the Avalon more assured handling. Smaller dimensions mean slightly less interior room, but the Avalon compensates with a larger trunk, a greater range of seat adjustments and more efficient sunroof packaging.
Under the hood of the Avalon Hybrid is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor -- the same combination found in the new Camry -- that generates 200 horsepower. More importantly, it helps the Avalon Hybrid return an EPA-estimated 40 combined mpg. Fitted with a 17-gallon fuel tank, the Avalon Hybrid can theoretically cover more than 600 miles between fill-ups. That's the kind of range we normally associate with diesel engines.
Overall, the new 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid's excellent fuel economy, distinctive new look and business-class interior result in a pretty impressive package. It also happens to be pretty much in a class by itself, as few automakers currently offer full hybrid systems in their large non-luxury sedans. As alternatives, though, you could look at the new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Both are a little smaller inside the Avalon, but are impressive nonetheless. Volkswagen's Passat with the diesel engine would be another, less costly option.
Additional competition will come within the next two years as models like the Chevrolet Impala and Passat will feature hybrids among their lineups. For now, the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid merits strong consideration as a roomy, long-distance fuel-sipper.
The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a five-passenger sedan offered in XLE Premium, XLE Touring and Limited trim levels.
The XLE Premium comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar support, a four-way power front passenger seat and heated front seats. Electronic features include keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, a 6-inch touchscreen display and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The XLE Touring adds foglights, driver seat and side mirror memory functions, a navigation system and Toyota's Entune smartphone app integration system.
The Limited bundles Premium and Touring features with xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, upgraded leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rear power sunshade, a 7-inch touchscreen display and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system. Adaptive cruise control and adaptive high beam headlights are optional for the Limited.
The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that generates 156 hp and 156 pound-feet of torque. An electric motor brings the gas engine to life when it shuts down at stoplights in order to save fuel and also provides some low-end propulsion. Combined, the two power units are good for 200 hp. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers power to the front wheels.
In Edmunds performance testing, an Avalon Hybrid Limited accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, a quick time for a full-size sedan. According to EPA estimates, the Avalon Hybrid returns 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Limited models also come with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. An adaptive cruise control system with pre-collision warning is optional on the Limited.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Avalon Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in 132 feet, which is about average for the segment.
The Avalon Hybrid's interior is spacious, elegant and uses high-quality materials throughout. The unusual layered dash layout divides the instrument panel, center console and front passenger area into different zones, appearing almost floating or disconnected when viewed from certain angles. It's a slightly modern and futuristic effect, but takes some getting used to. Controls are intuitively arranged and nicely weighted for a quality feel, however.
The front seats are very comfortable, offering a wide range of adjustment, and even feature lumbar support for both the driver and front passenger. The Avalon's rear seats are so roomy that Toyota actually offers a livery model of this car. The trunk offers 14 cubic feet of space, which is less than the regular Avalon but still more than what's available from the typical midsize hybrid sedan.
Gauges are sharp and stylish and the center screen is large and easy to read for navigation directions or vehicle operation information. Storage compartments are especially well placed and executed and provide ample room for drinks and personal effects. The lower section of the center console provides a convenient "eBin" with power cords passing through a sliding panel for two cell phones and auxiliary and USB connections. A large center armrest provides more storage space and additional connectivity and charging for cell phones.
The first thought when driving the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid might be: "Is this really the Avalon?" The redesign has also yielded a personality change. The stiffer body and retuned suspension deliver an assured but comfortable ride, and the Avalon has shed its tendency to wallow around faster bends in the road. Some traditional Avalon buyers might still wish for the old, softer Avalon, but overall we like the change.
The Avalon's 200 hp moves the sedan's nearly 3,600-pound mass with some authority. In Edmunds acceleration tests, the Avalon Hybrid trailed a V6-powered Hyundai Azera by just two-tenths of a second. The Hybrid is also exceptionally quiet, equaling the hushed state of a large luxury sedan while on the highway.
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