2021 Toyota Avalon Review

2021 Toyota Avalon - The luxurious 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is one of few remaining large sedans.


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.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.