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2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid is roomy, luxurious, and one-of-a-kind Featured

Posted On Monday, 16 November 2020 06:02 Written by
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The 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid is a rarity in the automotive world — a full-size hybrid sedan — and it delivers a potent package. The 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid is a rarity in the automotive world — a full-size hybrid sedan — and it delivers a potent package. Photo courtesy of Toyota

With the rise of SUVS, the sedan is a vehicle type that has had its obituary written by many, but that’s a bit premature. While it’s true that many sedans are ceasing production or being converted into SUVs, the ones that have remained are still very strong.

Toyota is arguably the leader for the sedan, primarily through its strong-selling Camry. But at the top of their sedan arsenal is the Avalon, a full-size sedan — that rare breed of vehicle which is truly a dying breed.

Hybrids are an even rarer vehicle type to find in the full-size sedan realm, outside of luxury models, making the 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid an extremely unique offering. There are some vehicles — including the Honda Accord hybrid and Hyundai Sonata hybrid — that come close in size to the Avalon hybrid, but lack the sophistication and performance it offers.

I recently sent time in a 2021 Avalon hybrid, and here is a full report.

LOOKS

With few full-size sedans still available, the Avalon hybrid stands out with its lengthy looks and sharp wheel design. The vehicle features 18-inch super chrome alloy wheels, LED headlamps, and a heated outside mirror with turn signal. It also has an in-your-face bladed front grille design that I really liked, but may turn off some people.

Inside the Avalon is where you will be surprised by the stunning luxury-level looks that you will find. Materials are high end, including quite comfortable brown leather seating, detailed stitching on the doors and seats, and an especially attractive black-and-white leather steering wheel. You can tell a lot of work went into making this vehicle look special, and no other hybrid sedan outside of the luxury realm can compare in terms of interior design.

A heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and 8-way power driver and passenger seats are also featured, and you can choose from some special paint colors to make your ride stand out.

And of course, there’s the issue of space. Being such a lengthy vehicle, the Avalon hybrid will seat five very comfortably, with plenty of head room and leg room to go around for everyone. And storage is at a premium too (16.09 cubic feet in the massive trunk).

HOW’S THE RIDE? 

The 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, paired with a CVT transmission. The four-cylinder engine is paired with a Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain that’s equally focused on drive quality and fuel economy — a rare combination. This provides 215 combined net horsepower.

While the horsepower number on the Avalon hybrid is not overwhelming, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the ride quality, acceleration and handling. Despite the fact that it’s a hybrid, you still get moving quite fast and the experience is enjoyable.

Overall, the Avalon hybrid is a very quiet ride with little intrusion from outside noise. Handling is impressive for the size of the vehicle, and you can choose between Eco, Normal and Sport modes.

The hybrid version of the Avalon is only available with front-wheel drive, but if you opt for the non-hybrid Avalon you can choose all-wheel drive on some models. Also, for safety reasons, the Avalon hybrid emits external sounds at low speeds to alert pedestrians to the vehicle’s presence.

If you have realistic expectations for the Avalon hybrid, you will find a lot to like in the performance of this vehicle.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Toyota has a great track record in terms of tech offerings and safety features, and the Avalon is fully loaded in these departments.

First, as far as the infotainment system goes, voice commands work very well In the Avalon for music, phone and navigation, limiting the need to use physical buttons or the touchscreen.

Overall, the design of the infotainment system is well-organized, and a 9-inch touchscreen is featured. Between the steering wheel controls and buttons in the center console, everything is easy to locate and use. It's not as fancy-looking as some systems but is among the most user friendly, and has a large screen to work with. A helpful wireless phone charger is featured up front under a hidden compartment.

The audio system is powerful, featuring 14 JBL speakers including subwoofer and amplifier. Bluetooth connection allows for streaming music and phone calls, there are 5 total USB ports, Satellite radio is included with a 3-month free trial, and the vehicle is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for phone mirroring.

Moving on to safety, you get tons of great safety features, making this one of the safest sedans in the market. Proof of that is the 5-star government safety rating the vehicle earned.

The Toyota Safety Sense-P package includes helpful features such as: Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert … so your bases are pretty much covered.

An advanced Safety Package option includes a Bird’s Eye View camera with perimeter scan, and Rear Cross-Traffic Braking. A 10-inch head-up display is also offered to help keep your eyes on the road, and the vehicle includes 10 air bags.

MPG
With a hybrid vehicle, you expect strong fuel mileage numbers, and the Avalon hybrid delivers; Official numbers are 43 city/43 highway/43 combined. In my experience behind the wheel, I averaged 41 mpg, but used Sport mode a lot which likely brought down the total. 

PRICE
The 2021 Toyota Avalon was priced just under $47,000 and its base price starts about $37,000. It comes in three trim levels: XLE, XSE and Limited grades.

Compared to the only similarly sized hybrid sedans available, this is a higher price, but that’s expected because it’s much more high-end and well-designed and offers better performance.

BOTTOM LINE 

The 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid is a bit of a unicorn in today’s auto industry, but continues to shine. It delivers a sharp exterior design, luxury-level interior without luxury pricing, impressive hybrid drive quality, and strong technology and safety features. Overall, it’s a home run and arguably the best sedan you can buy from Toyota. 


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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu
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Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Toyota Avalon hybrid   
  • Price as tested: $46,717   
  • Best feature: Luxury level styling, impressive tech and safety features
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: People looking for a high-end, full-size hybrid sedan that won't break the bank
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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