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Road Test: 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

| Green, Test drive | 12.10.2018

Fuel-Sipping Flagship ^

Despite its brand name, the 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid large midsize sedan is designed for Americans and built in Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, plant. A Toyota flagship for a quarter century, it’s roomy and well-equipped hybrid version returns for 2019.

Hybrid vehicles are great at providing a stress-free electric experience, and Toyota sells eight hybrid models. They blend a gasoline engine with an electric motor; at any given moment, you are using one or the other—and sometimes both. The computer decides when to use which for maximum efficiency.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

The Avalon is the flagship of Toyota’s hybrid lineup

The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid boasts EPA fuel economy ratings of 43 across the board city/highway/combined. (Note: the base model gets 44 highway and combined). That means you’re eliminating the CO2 emissions of half a car by driving the hybrid version. The V6-powered non-hybrid earns 22 city/32 highway/26 combined.

While non-hybrid Avalons use a 301-horsepower (hp) V6 with 267 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque, the Hybrid mates a 176-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with a 118-hp electric motor, for a total system horsepower of 215. With 163 lb.-ft and 149 lb.-ft. of torque from engine and motor respectively, the 3,715-pound sedan moves along with some authority.

The Hybrid offers a great advantage for long-distance voyagers, with a total range of 568 miles, versus 395 for the standard model. Thank the electric motor and the four-cylinder engine’s greater efficiency.

EPA Green scores for the Avalon Hybrid are 7 for Smog and 9 for Greenhouse Gas, good for a SmartWay rating.

The Trim Levels & What You Get ^

The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid comes in three trim levels—XLE, XSE and Limited. My Limited tester wore a sophisticated Parisian Night Pearl paint job.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Leather seats come with the top Limited trim

Every Avalon is well-equipped, but the

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

The rear seat offers plenty of comfort

Limited gets a bunch of upgrades. Outside, you’ll see special wheels and unique headlight and taillight treatments. Inside, genuine leather seats and wood trim provide an experience closer to a Lexus. Ambient lighting at night gives a posh ambience, and even rear-seat passengers get heated seats. The 10-inch head-up display shows you a lot of what’s happening without looking away from the windshield.

Every Avalon Hybrid gives you an Eco Guidance panel, where you can see how “green” your driving is. It scores you on how well you start, cruise and stop. I ended up with 84 out of 100. My final average fuel economy was 37.2 mpg, a bit below the EPA’s 43 mpg.

As usual, when you climb up the model levels, you get a better audio system. The Limited trim level comes with a JBL 14-speaker system with a 1,200-watt amplifier. This is one car it’s nice to just park in and listen to your favorite music.

Safety at Length ^

Safety is a big priority with Toyota vehicles, and the long list of features applies to every trim level. My 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid also came with the optional Advanced Safety Package ($1,150), which includes Intelligent Clearance Sonar, a bird’s eye view camera (super helpful for parking), and rear-cross-traffic alert, which really should be in every car that ever parks in a driveway.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Plenty to enjoy here

Cars are very complicated machines, but they are also personal statements to the world about you as well as small rooms that we occupy for hours at a time. That means you can enjoy the elaborate stitching on the Avalon’s seats, and the massing of the dash and doors, which conveys strength, style, and, in this particular car, a little surprise. The front corner dash vents break out of the more rounded background, while the center panel dramatically sweeps up as a separate, free-standing unit, creating little bridges, much like in Volvos.

While the plastics and controls are not quite as serene as in a Lexus, the experience is definitely premium—as buyers expect from Toyota’s flagship midsize sedan. With evocative Camrys sharing the showroom, the Avalon has to distinguish itself somehow.

The Grill You Don’t Have to See ^

The grills of current Toyota and Lexus products are truly “in your face.” Either you go for it or you don’t, but there is certainly a lot of grill here to like or dislike. Most of the time you’re with your Avalon, you’ll be inside, looking out the windshield and at the dash, so that’s not really an issue.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Look away if you can

Pricing starts at $37,420 for the XLE, moves up to $39,920 for the sportier XSE, and ends at $43,720 for the Limited. With the extra package mentioned above, my tester topped out at $44,870. All prices include shipping.

While Toyota has proliferated hybrids across its lineup, it has so far avoided pure battery-electric vehicles other than two limited forays with RAV4 EVs. However, it is selling lots of “half-EVs” from an emissions point of view, which is still commendable. The greenest Toyota is the Mirai, a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle, but it comes with a few limitations along with its intriguing high-tech powertrain. The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid should serve many people’s needs well for now.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy—More Toyota Hybrids

Road Test:  2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Road Test: 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Prius V

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Prius Liftback

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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