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2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

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2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

By John Heilig

Model: 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 156 hp @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline engine) 200(total)/156 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 111.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 195.2 x 72.2 x 57.5 in.
Tires: P215/55 R17
Cargo: 14.0 cubic feet.
Economy: 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway/31.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 17.0 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,585 lbs.
Sticker: $44,535 (includes $810 delivery charge, $2,325 in options)

The Bottom Line: The Toyota Avalon is a very nice larger midsize sedan. It has great ride comfort, very good power and damned good economy.

Every now and then a car will jump out and hit me (no, not literally). There have been several, but the latest is the Toyota Avalon. Here is a car that looks good in the driveway, keeps those good looks when you step inside, and continues the good impressions on the road. And the fact that our tester was a hybrid even kept me happy when I had to fill it up.

The EPA classifies the Avalon as a mid-size, but if it is, it is at the larger end of the mid-size segment. As a government agency, the EPA couldn’t be wrong, could it?

Watch the original introduction of the all new Toyota Avalon

Exterior styling is very nice, not unlike the Ford Fusion with its Ford-style grille. Avalon’s exterior styling is a deviation from the Toyota norm.

Interior styling is flat, with a two-color dash that is attractive. There are tan seats with dark brown highlights that work for me. The dash has a clear instrument panel and audio/navigation screen.

Touch the pushbutton start and you get the standard hybrid nothing. Sure, a “Ready” light glows on the instrument panel, but I always expect some noise. It always takes me a while to remember that I’m in a hybrid.

Power with the combination of a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine is very good. That’s the advantage of the hybrid; the electric motor provides the added torque to the smaller gasoline engine that gives fuel economy. Avalon has good merge performance. Handling is good for a family sedan.

In addition to the power and economy, the Avalon is loaded with great features, like a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and a back-up camera. The option list is basically unnecessary, although I like dynamic radar cruise control that maintains a distance between you and the car in front, automatic high beams that keep you from annoying oncoming drivers, and a pre-collision system that can scare the hell out of you if you approach a car too quickly for the car, but you’re on it.

Idris Elba, star of "Luther" TV series featured in this behind the scenes video for the new 2013-14 Toyota Avalon

An option I did like was the Qi wireless charger ($200) that consisted of a cubby at the base of the center stack. Lay your cell phone on the bottom of the tray and it will charge automatically. There’s a USB connector in the cubby as well.

Front seats are comfortable with good side support. They’re both heated and cooled. The rear seats have very good legroom, with enough width and a flat center floor that a third passenger could ride there in comfort. The rear seats carry the two-tone (or three-tone if you include black) tan/dark brown effect. It adds to the feel of the experience.

The rear seat backs don’t fold due to the battery pack location, but there’s a good enough trunk that you can probably get away with not needing the expanded cargo. If you do, you can just put stuff in the rear seat.

As I said at the outset, the Toyota Avalon is the type of car that impressed me from the start. I like its looks and the good feelings don’t fade as I spent more time behind the wheel. Maybe it’s because I’m a member of the demographic that would most like the Avalon, but anyway, I like it.

In-depth video of the new 2013-14 Toyota Avalon

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