The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid provides a rare combination of stretch-out luxury and great fuel economy.
All Avalons are front-wheel drive and derived from Toyota's Camry sedan. The style is conservative with handsome tailoring in both the lines of the exterior styling and the restrained decoration of the interior. Where the Avalon separates itself, however, is space. This is a truly roomy sedan, with enough space in the back for three adults.
But while "regular" Avalons are all powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, the Hybrid model uses a 156-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine complemented by two electric motors and a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack to push a combined 200 hp through a continuously variable transmission. It's essentially the same setup that's used in the tried-and-tested Camry Hybrid.
One significant compromise imposed by the hybrid powertrain is that the battery pack knocks total trunk space from the regular model's 16 cubic feet to 14 cubic feet. Otherwise, except for a few decorative exterior distinctions, the Avalon Hybrid is hardly distinguishable from other Avalons in how it looks and drives.
There are three Avalon Hybrid models: XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Hybrid Limited. All are exceptionally comfortable, smooth-riding machines, with the Hybrid Limited almost matching some Lexus models for appointments, ride and operating silence.
All three trim levels offer leather upholstery standard. And there are no standalone options. The XLE Premium and Limited both include navigation and blind-spot monitoring systems.
For a large sedan, the Avalon's fuel economy is outstanding. The EPA rates the Avalon Hybrid at 40 mpg combined (40 city/39 highway). Granted, that's not quite as high as what some hybrid midsize sedans are capable of but, as large sedans go, the Avalon Hybrid is pretty much in a class of one.
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Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.