2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: economic, near luxury

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The Toyota Avalon debuted in late 1994 as the manufacturer’s flagship full-sized sedan. It replaces the Toyota Cressida. The hybrid trim was unveiled in December 2012, further adding to Toyota’s nearly always-expanding lineup.

For 2016, The Toyota Avalon Hybrid has only a few changes. Most notably, there’s a redesigned front grille and front turn signal lamps. The base XLE Plus trim debuts; the Touring trim is discontinued.

Technology features are also enhanced with a wireless smartphone charging system standard for the XLE Premium and Limited trims. The Toyota Safety Sense package is available as a Limited trim option.

2016 Toyota Avalon Test Drive

The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is in rare company. It’s joined by the 2016 Buick LaCrosse as the only near-luxury full-sized sedans offered in hybrid trims.

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The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a near luxury, economic sedan. All Images © Gretchen Gaither/2016

Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor powered by a battery pack hidden under the trunk, the Avalon has a 200 horsepower engine. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) sends power to the front wheels. The sedan has impressive EPA estimates of 40/39 city/highway mpg and 40 combined mpg.

The Avalon impresses in other areas. It combines a confident, steady drive, particularly at freeway speeds. But it also maneuvers astutely in city traffic, tight parking lots and in u-turn situations — as if its profile is smaller.

2016 Toyota Avalon: non-hybrid like hybrid

As a hybrid, the Avalon avoids a common dilemma among many competitors. It doesn’t drive like a hybrid. Engagement is smooth without hesitation. There’s no “whining” or high-pitched engine nose.

The Avalon hybrid is available in three driving modes: EV, Eco and Sport. The EV mode allows running on battery power alone at speeds of up to 25 mph. Eco reduces throttle response and climate control output. Sport mode is touted as sharpening the throttle and transmission responses.

The Avalon exterior styling is also enhanced by arguably the most attractive color on the road, Parisian Night Pearl. While many blue color palates overtly bright, the Avalon’s tone is subdued. It adds another component to the Avalon’s overall attractiveness.

Likes:

Exceptional fuel economy.
Quiet ride.
Spacious front and rear seating.
Cavernous trunk
Driving range (663 miles).
Handsome dark blue exterior color (Parisian Night Pearl)

Dislikes:

Soft braking.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Toyota Avalon (Hybrid)

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.2 seconds.
Airbags: 10.
Fuel economy: 40 mpg (city), 39 mpg (highway), 39 mpg (combined) six-speed continuously variable transmission.
Horsepower: 200.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $41,950.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.toyota.com.
Price As Tested: $43,285.00.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; 8 years/100,000 miles for hybrid-related components.

What Others Say:

“Where the Avalon really excels, however, is in its overall feeling of solidity, comfort and safety. From its multiple driver-assist features to the user-friendly infotainment and navigation. — Kelley Blue Book.

The full-size 2016 Toyota Avalon is a practical sedan that seems to offer just about everything a luxury-car shopper might want. There’s a smooth, comfortable ride; there are high-end appointments and a long list of standard and optional amenities; and there’s even a fuel-efficient hybrid model that boasts excellent fuel economy — hybridcars.com.

The Toyota Avalon V-6 is more engaging, the hybrid thriftier and cushier. But, either way, Avalon is old-school comfortable while providing 21st-century safety equipment and telematics. — stltoday.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“With its European styling, impressive driving qualities and equally impressive gas mileage, the 2016 Toyota Avalon is a fine choice is the large sedan segment, hybrid or otherwise.”

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