Pros-Upscale. Stylish. Roomy. Supple ride. Good handling. Safety features.
Cons-Low front end. Can feel sharp bumps. Annoying seat belt reminder.
Bottom Line-Toyota's top car model has near-Lexus appeal.
The lemming-like rush to buy crossovers, SUVs and pickups has left most large sedans largely out in the cold. The Avalon is among the few remaining big sedans, along with the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Nissan Maxima. And the Avalon is scheduled to be dropped after the the 2022 model year.
That's a shame because the fifth generation 2021 Avalon Hybrid Limited I tested has strong acceleration, with Eco, Normal and Sport modes, and delivers an estimated 43 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on highways.
There are other Avalon models with a 301horsepower V-6, but why bother with that engine because it really isn't necessary for strong acceleration and delivers an estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on highways. The Avalon Hybrid accounts for about one-third of Avalon sales, which aren't especially high.
Changes for the 2021 Avalon Hybrid include the addition of Android Auto to go with the car's Apple CarPlay and USB-C power ports. "Hybrid" badges adorn parts of the sporty exterior, which is aggressive-looking but has a very low front end.
The front-drive Avalon Hybrid is 195.5 inches long and weighs 3,695 pounds. It delivers 215 horsepower with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors. A new lithium-ion battery pack replaces a nickel-metal hydride battery. There's an eight-year/100,000-miles battery warranty.
Only 87-octane fuel is needed for the Avalon Hybrid's 13.2-gallon tank. Power is transmitted through a CVT automatic transmission, which operates seamlessly.
The steering is quick and precise, although a little light at low speeds. The ride is comfortable, although sharp bumps can be felt, the brake pedal has a nice feel and handling is composed, although this is not a sports sedan. Taking fairly sharp on/off expressway curves at above average speeds caused noticeable, but not alarming, body lean.
The Avalon Hybrid has plenty of room for four tall adults in its lavish interior. Five fit, but the center of the rear seat is too firm for comfort on anything but short trips.
The trunk has a low, wide opening and outdoes most rivals with its 16.1 cubic foot capacity. Rear seat backs flip forward after trunk levers are pulled and sit flat to increase cargo volume. However, they sit slightly higher than the trunk floor. It's always nicer to have a totally flat floor with seat backs lowered.
However, here's no knocking the Avalon Hybrid Limited's church-quiet interior which has wide-opening doors. The rather large front console contains a deep, covered storage compartment, but there are supportive heated, ventilated, power front seats. The comfortable heated rear seats have faux leather. There's automatic climate control, soft-touch surfaces and an easily used infotainment system touch screen. Special Limited model interior highlights include genuine Yamaha wood trim.
There's also a digital speedometer, 14-speaker JBL sound system, power sunroof with a sunshade, head-up display, redundant physical dashboard controls for the such items as the climate control system and trunk lid opener. No northern area winter should be without the heated leather-covered steering wheel, which has a power up/down, in/out feature to help make drivers of various heights comfortable.
My test Avalon Hybrid Limited had an $1,150 Advanced Safety Package that contained such items as rear cross-traffic braking and a nifty Bird's Eye View camera with perimeter scan that shows via the dashboard screen if there are objects surrounding the entire car. Other extras included rear bumper appliqué and illuminated door sills.
Standard safety items included a pre-colision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and 10 air bags.
Those looking for a solid, highly economical upscale sedan may not want to look no further than the Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited.