Back in the early days of gasoline-electric hybrids, cars with these innovative powertrains wowed buyers with their ability to wring a phenomenal number of miles out of a single gallon of gas. But you also had to give up some luxury and refinement to get it. Fast forward to today, and you'll find that models such as the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid sacrifice very little at the altar of great fuel economy.
A large sedan that can post higher EPA fuel economy numbers (40 mpg combined) than the Toyota's own compact Corolla model still qualifies as pretty noteworthy. The fact that the Avalon Hybrid can do it with an abundance of style and comfort is nothing short of remarkable. The handsome Avalon Hybrid looks like a more expensive European model, inside and out. Comfort is assured by a spacious interior done up in upscale materials and featuring the latest must-have amenities, from adaptive cruise control to a touchscreen infotainment system.
Of course good looks and nifty technology aren't everything. The Avalon Hybrid has sufficient power for everyday motoring and the same composed ride quality as its non-hybrid sibling. The fact that it will go nearly 700 miles between fill-ups assures that you'll spend more time driving and less time pumping.
All the more remarkable is that the Avalon Hybrid is pretty much in a class of one. The closest competitors, in fact, is the group of midsize hybrid sedans that include the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Or if it's richer luxury trappings you seek, you may want to add the Lexus ES 300h, which is related to the Avalon, to your test-drive list. Even among that crowd of likable alternatives, however, we think the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is still pretty impressive.
The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid's list of standard safety features includes traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. All models now come with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes adaptive cruise control, a forward pre-collision warning and mitigation system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assistance, and automatic high-beam control.
The XLE Premium and Limited also come with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Limited also gets Toyota's Safety Connect service, which includes roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location and automatic collision notification.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Avalon Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in 132 feet, about 5 feet longer than average for the segment.
In government crash testing, the 2017 Avalon Hybrid received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, four stars for front-impact and five stars for side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the otherwise similar non-hybrid Avalon scored a Good rating (the highest possible) in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap front-impact tests as well as Good score in the side-impact, roof strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is offered in XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited trim levels. The non-hybrid Toyota Avalon is reviewed separately.
The entry-level XLE Plus comes well-equipped with standard features that include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights (including high beams), adaptive cruise control, heated outside mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar support) and a four-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive cruise control and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Electronic features include keyless ignition and entry, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and Toyota's Entune Audio Plus setup that consists of a 7-inch touchscreen display, voice controls and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB-media interface. This year's Avalon also has forward collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking, and lane departure warning and intervention as standard.
The XLE Premium adds foglights, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver-seat memory settings, Qi wireless smartphone charging and Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, which includes a navigation system, smartphone app integration and nine speakers.
The Limited includes all the above plus xenon headlights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming outside mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded gauge cluster, upgraded leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a rear power sunshade, ambient lighting and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.
The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that's fed by a trunk-mounted battery pack. Combined, the two power units produce 200 horsepower, which is sent to the front wheels by way of a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In Edmunds testing, an Avalon Hybrid accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. This is about a second slower than the regular, V6-powered Avalon or most other conventional large sedans, but it's respectably quick for a hybrid sedan.
According to EPA estimates, the Avalon Hybrid returns 40 mpg in combined driving (40 city/39 highway).
On the road, the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is an easy car to like, with its confidence-inspiring handling and smooth ride quality. On this last point, however, it bears mentioning that this current version does have a firmer ride than previous generations, so owners of older models will want to note the difference when taking a test drive.
The gasoline-electric powertrain delivers modest performance, mainly because its 200 hp is on the low side for a car the Avalon Hybrid's size. It is, however, notable for its quiet operation. Downsides are minor and include an occasional droning noise from the engine caused by the continuously variable automatic transmission and an nonlinear brake pedal feel that takes some time to acclimate to.
The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid has a stylish, sophisticated cabin that's enhanced by the use of first-rate materials. Front seats are comfortable and supportive and feature a wide range of adjustability. In back the seats are as spacious as you'd expect in a large sedan, and the Limited model's heated rear seats and power rear window sunshade only add to the comfort level.
The interior also features a number of stowage spaces including a large center console compartment and smaller bins for wallets and other paraphernalia of daily living. A designated "e-bin" in the center console features a cable pass-through for charging cellphones via the adjacent 12-volt and USB outlets. This cubby is also home to the Qi wireless charging system that works with compatible cellphones.
Out back, the Avalon Hybrid offers a trunk with a healthy 14 cubic feet of cargo capacity, just 2 cubic feet shy of the non-hybrid Avalon.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.