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"New Car Review: 2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium" By John Heilig


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THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


NEW CAR REVIEW: 2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium
ENGINE: 2.5-liter I-4
TRANSMISSION: Electronic CVT
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 156 hp @ 5,200 rpm/156 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
WHEELBASE: 111.0 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 195.3 x 82.4 x 57.5 in.
TIRES: P215/55R17
CARGO CPACITY: 14.0 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway/37.4 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 17.0 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,594 lbs. #/HP: 23.0
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Buick LaCrosse, Kia Cadenza, Volvo S90
STICKER: $41,890 (includes $895 delivery, $2,045 options)
BOTTOM LINE: The Toyota Avalon is a solid, if conservative mid-size-to-large sedan that offers very good ride quality.

I guess for old timers like myself, conservative styling is the way to go. Both my wife and I liked the Toyota Avalon particularly because of its muted styling. Oh sure, it has a few features that are over the top, but the overall impression is one of sedateness.

Exterior styling is that of a larger sedan, although the Avalon is classified as a mid size. The wheelbase is identical to the Camry and the Avalon is just three inches longer overall.

The interior was finished in cream and dark brown with wood accents and a black instrument panel and center stack. The seats are cream leather and the headliner follows the cream theme.

Under the hood is a fairly small 2.5-liter inline four that’s rated at 156 horsepower. However, performance is good thanks to the assist from the electric motor in the hybrid model. In addition, the engine is quiet under all circumstances. Occasionally, some road noise creeps into the cabin, especially on concrete surfaces, but otherwise the Avalon is a quiet operator.

I mentioned the electric motor, and the Avalon is one of Toyota’s many hybrid models. Overall, we achieved 37.4 mpg on our test run, which is outstanding for a larger car. I remember the “old days” of hybrid cars where they were so underpowered that they could barely get out of their own way. Not so any more.

The electronically controlled CVT transmission has three modes - EV, Eco and Sport. The Eco mode prioritizes economy, while the Sport mode quickens throttle response, enhances the electric power steering feel, and raises transmission shift points. The shifter itself goes through a “gated” pattern that is almost like a classic manual gearbox. For manual mode, you tap the shifter forward to upshift, to the rear to downshift.

Ride quality is comfortable along with the relative quiet. The suspension is fairly conventional with McPherson struts up front and an independent rear, so there isn’t any magic to creating a good ride. The wheel is not too busy with the minimum number of buttons and switches.

Front seats are easy chair comfortable. They’re heated, and the heat controls are a pair of rheostats, rather than the conventional two- or three-position switch. Still, with the weather we had, I kept my seat at full blast all the time. Rear seat leg room is excellent, as is headroom. With the fold down arm rest folded, there is excellent side support in the rear as well. The floor in the rear is flat, making it ideal for a third passenger (with the farm rest folded up). Since this was a hybrid, the rear seat backs didn’t fold to increase cargo capacity.

There’s a large covered cubby at the base of the center stack that has a Q charger, 12-volt, AUX and USB outlets. The large center console/arm rest has a sliding top and a small shelf inside to maximize capacity.

In the console is the standard pair of cup holders. There is no room for water bottles in the door pockets.

Avalon is equipped with a full suite of safety features. The Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) collection includes automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and lane departure alert with steering assist. In addition, the Avalon is equipped with a blind spot monitor and rear across traffic alert.

My only complaint with the Avalon is the option package that includes $2,045 of items that make it look good, but don’t enhance the performance in any way.

Overall, Avalon is a very nice product. It’s an upgrade from the slightly smaller Camry, and offers a degree of luxury that you won’t find exceeded without moving up to Lexus.

(c) 2018 The Auto Page Syndicate

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