The Toyota Avalon was completely redesigned for the 2013 model year and the new generation model continues in the tradition of smooth and comfortable. The first impressions that we get from the 2014 Avalon is that this top of the line Toyota sedan is all about luxury. We are testing the Avalon with the optional hybrid gas-electric powertrain that gets excellent fuel economy and extremely low emissions. If you are looking for a full-size sedan that gets the fuel mileage of a compact, then this is the car for you.
This week we are test driving the 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited model. It comes with the optional Technology Package ($1,750) and the Hybrid model tech package features Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, automatic high beams, and Pre-Collision System. It also comes with the wireless charging capability option ($200). Total MSRP on this Hybrid Limited is $44,160 which includes $810 destination.
The Toyota Avalon was all-new for the 2013 model year and essentially remains unchanged for 2014, other than a few minor adjustments to standard feature content. The 2013 Avalon was the first full-size Toyota sedan to offer a hybrid gas-electric powertrain. We’ll see what kind of mileage we get this week.
Avalon Limited Hybrid ($41,400) comes loaded with luxury features and gets premium perforated leather heated and cooled front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, eight-way power front-passenger seat, heated rear seats, three-zone climate control, 7-inch high-resolution touch-screen audio, with navigation, backup camera, JBL Premium HDD audio, color HVAC screen, Safety Connect, rain-sensing wipers, rear sunshade, HID headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, puddle lamps, ambient lighting and auto-dimming outside mirrors.
Stepping inside Avalon made us realize just how big this full-size sedan really is. The 2014 Avalon’s 111-inch wheelbase allowed designers to design a cavernous interior that provides a surprising amount of head, leg, hip and elbow room, front and back. Headroom in the front seats is 38.5 inches. Our rear seat passengers were able to stretch out and relax on our way to a business lunch this week. These big guys were impressed with amount of legroom and comfort the Avalon provides.
The Avalon is all about luxury and the 2014 model is far more lavish than the previous generation sedan. The fit and finish is excellent and the quality of materials first class. This cabin is roomy and comfortable.
Driving the hybrid
We were surprised at the responsiveness and driving dynamics of the new-generation Avalon. Akio Toyoda said he wanted to infuse a sportier attitude into the brand and his influence in motorsports is being felt throughout the Toyota lineup. The steering is a bit slow, but still feels precise during typical driving maneuvers. Avalon is not a sports sedan , but overall, the Avalon Hybrid is easy to drive. The brakes do feel a bit grabby until you get used to the hybrid system.
The Avalon Hybrid system uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and produces 156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated with a pair of electric motors using essentially the same Toyota Synergy Hybrid drive found in the latest version of the Camry. The electric motor brings the total up to 200 hp. It’s not a lot of horsepower for a big sedan, but still delivers enough power to feel confident passing or merging onto the highway.
The Avalon Hybrid is exceptionally quiet on the inside, with the feel of a large luxury sedan while cruising at highway speeds. Where the new Avalon hybrid really shines is in its fuel efficiency. This fuel-stingy model gets an EPA estimated 40/39 mpg city/highway. That’s on par with many compact cars. That’s impressive for a full-size sedan, and even more impressive considering the minimal sacrifice in performance.
Don’t expect the Avalon hybrid to run on electric only for more than a few minutes at most. We were lucky to get a full mile with the battery fully charged. But the Hybrid does have the ability to maintain climate control even when the gas engine is shut off.
Part of what makes the Avalon great is that it’s uncomplicated and so easy to operate. The interior is comfortable and attractive, with leather standard. Handling is much improved for improved driving dynamics, while keeping its excellent ride quality. The new hybrid-electric offers an impressive EPA-estimated 40/39 mpg city/highway. The new Avalon is an easy car to live with and will be easy on the wallet at the pump.
Our final score for the 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: 4.3 out of 5