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2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Review By Larry Nutson

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A true big family sedan

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Last year was tough on the auto industry due to the Covid pandemic. However, car brands are now enjoying sales increases in 2021. Although, 2021 does continue to be tough with microchip shortages limiting new vehicle production and the corresponding lack of availability of new vehicles in dealer showrooms.

For the first half of 2021 Toyota brand sales are up 44.1 percent. Toyota’s passenger car sales, which make up about 34.4 percent of total brand sales, are up 43.7 percent. And alternative powered vehicle (APV) sales--hybrids, EVs and fuel cell vehicles that is, are up a whopping 164.9 percent.

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This brings me to the Avalon Hybrid. Avalon total sales for the first half of the year are 10,328. Of that, 4,702 or 45.5 percent are Avalon Hybrids. That is nearly double the 24.1 percent total sales ratio of APVs for the Toyota brand.

Yes, the Avalon Hybrid is popular among Avalon buyers. Now in its ninth year the Avalon Hybrid was updated in 2019 with the introduction of the fifth-generation Avalon.

Back then I drove the new 2019 Avalon, coincidently also the Hybrid. Click HERE to read what I said back then.

For 2021 a new Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack replaces the previous Nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery. Vehicle packaging allows the Lithium-ion battery pack to be installed beneath the rear seat with no sacrifice in trunk capacity over the gas Avalon models.

The front-wheel drive Avalon’s hybrid drive has a net 215-system horsepower with its 176-hp 2.5-four-cylinder mated with a 650-volt (118-hp) electric motor and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). A second electric motor is used to charge the hybrid battery pack as well as a generator and starter.

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Avalon Hybrid models feature NORMAL, ECO, EV, and SPORT drive system modes. On the Hybrid XSE, Sequential Shiftmatic technology allows the driver to “shift” the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT). It mimics a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission via paddle shifters or with the console-mounted shift lever.

Avalon Hybrid includes the Auto Glide Control (AGC) system, which essentially gives the car a coasting feature. When activated, AGC limits the loss of vehicle speed through engine braking, acting more like a neutral gear to allow longer coasting for reduced fuel consumption.

For 2021 Avalon Hybrid is available in XLE, XSE and Limited grades. EPA fuel economy ratings for the XLE are 44 mpg combined, with 43 city mpg and 44 highway mpg. XSE and Limited grades are EPA rated 43 mpg for each—city, highway and combined. The difference is due to larger wheels and tires.

The 2021 Avalon Hybrid XLE has a base MSRP of $37,100. The XSE Hybrid is priced at $39,600 and the Limited at $43,400. The destination charge is an additional $995.

For 2022 Toyota has dropped the XSE grade. For 2022 the Avalon Hybrid XLE is now priced at $37,250 and Limited at $43,550. The destination charge has been bumped up to $1,025.

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For my drive experience in the 2021 Avalon Hybrid I drove a Limited grade with optional $1,150 Advanced Safety Package that includes Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan and Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross-Traffic Braking.

Finished in Silver Metallic with Cognac leather interior trim my Avalon test car had an overall premium look. The cabin is very comfortable, attractive and nicely quiet for an upscale driving experience. The front seats offer plenty of leg room and decent headroom for my 5ft 10 inch frame. There’s plenty of performance from the 215-hp powertrain. All my driving was mostly in the city with lots of stop and go. It was also very summery with the air conditioning in use a lot which no doubt affected my 38-39 mpg fuel economy average.

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The Avalon delivers a well balanced and comfortable ride. It’s well suited for jaunts around town as well as for a weekend road trip. The backseat will comfortably accommodate a couple of friends with plenty of legroom. Headroom could be bit tight if they’re tall.

The trunk is also roomy at 16.1 cu.ft. with no loss in size due to the hybrid’s battery.

Pay a visit to for more details and information on the Avalon Hybrid.

The Avalon Hybrid battery warranty is 10 years from date of first use or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

If the hybrid is not to your liking, a 301-hp V6 Avalon is available in XLE, XSE Nightshade, Limited, Touring and TRD grades. All-wheel drive is now offered for the first time on XLE and Limited grades powered by a 205-hp 2.5-L I4 with an 8-speed automatic.

After 28 years on the market Toyota says it will discontinue the Avalon after the 2022 model. Declining overall sales of passenger cars is the likely reason with more versatile utility vehicles being favored over large sedans.

Happy motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy