Class: Large Car
Miles Driven: 333
Fuel Used: 8.2 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 40.6 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 43/43/43 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||C+|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $42,800 (not including $920 destination charge)
Options on test car: Advanced Safety Package ($1150), Carpet Mat Package ($248)
Price as tested: $45,118
The great: Spacious, nicely finished interior; excellent fuel economy for a large sedan
The good: Pleasant, composed handling
The not so good: Rear-seat room could be a little better
The last time Consumer Guide tested a 2019 Toyota Avalon, your humble servants felt compelled to mention the Japanese automaker’s continuing devotion to sedans in the face of the market’s seeming tidal shift to crossover SUVs. This time we’re taking note of Toyota’s commitment to hybrids, and that is embodied in the Avalon too.
Toyota is, after all, the manufacturer of the Prius, which as much as any car made the gas/electric hybrid a familiar part of the twenty-first-century automotive landscape. But the company’s use of the technology didn’t get pigeonholed in one vehicle line. Not only are there hybrid models in other Toyota car and SUV series, there are multiple choices within those ranges. Consider that for 2019 you can find hybrids in four trim levels of both the Highlander and RAV4 sport-utilities, three kinds of Camry midsize sedan, and another three Avalon large sedans.
CG tested an Avalon Hybrid Limited, which is the costliest of all Avalons. Starting at $43,795 with delivery, it is $1000 dearer than a gas-V6 Limited and outranks the sport-oriented gas-only Touring by $600. The 2019s mark a new generation of the nameplate. They’re longer, lower, wider, and roomier than before, with new styling that some people like . . . and other people don’t.
As hybrid vehicles go, the Avalons (there are XLE and XSE versions as well) emphasize fuel economy over speed, which isn’t always the case. The powerteam consists of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine combined with an electric motor for a system total of 215 horsepower, 15 more than previously. A continuously variable automatic transmission directs power to the front wheels.
Power delivery is sufficient for easy and confident driving in just about any situation, but “spirited” it’s not, even in “Sport” mode. CG testers averaged 40.6 mpg with a slight majority of city driving—a bit below the EPA estimates (a fixed 43 mpg in city, highway, or combined driving). “ECO” and “EV” modes—the latter for brief bursts of fully electric operation—are available to help drivers retard their fossil-fuel use. The transitions between gas and electric operation are virtually seamless.
Regenerative braking is part and parcel of hybrid driving, and leads to a bit of drama when stopping. In the Avalon brake response is a little late coming in—drivers really need to get the pedal down. Otherwise, the big Toyota handles easily, with a pleasing added degree of steering heft in Sport.
Passenger room and comfort are comparable to that of the V6 cars, though there is a 0.4-inch reduction in rear headroom in the hybrid. It’s also a little less welcoming to three-abreast rear seating—it’s not impossible, but the shape of the floor tunnel makes it just a little harder. Ingress and egress are easy, and while thin front and rear roof pillars aid driver vision, thicker center posts reduce the view somewhat. The Avalon is one hybrid that doesn’t surrender any trunk space—which is ample—or cargo-carrying flexibility. Rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, resting a few inches above the plane of the trunk floor.
Luxuries and conveniences are sprinkled throughout the fairly plush Avalon Limited, starting with genuine wood interior trim and leather upholstery. Both front seats have 8-way power adjustments, and they’re heated and ventilated. There’s a memory function for the driver’s seat, external mirrors, and leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The steering wheel and rear seats are heated. An easily mastered premium 14-speaker Entune 3.0 touchscreen audio system incorporates navigation, satellite radio, Entune App Suite, and Toyota Connected Services. Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity is new for ’19.
The tally of standard amenities also counts Toyota Remote Connect vehicle monitoring, a Wi-Fi hotspot, 10-inch color head-up instrument display, Qi wireless charging, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access and starting, LED headlights (with smoked-chrome bezels) and taillights, a power moonroof, and 18-inch alloy wheels. A host of safety minders is bound up in the Toyota Safety Sense P group: forward-collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. The test car’s full price of $45,118 folded in optional carpeted mats and the Advanced Safety Package (“Intelligent Clearance Sonar” to help avoid collisions at speeds below 10 mph, rear cross-traffic automatic braking, and a 360-degree overhead-view camera).
Toyota is staking itself out to remain a full-line producer of motor vehicles—in both motors and vehicles. The hybrid Avalon sedan is clear proof of that.