• 2013 Avalon is completely redesigned and is smaller and lighter than its predecessor
  • A hybrid version is offered for the first time on the flagship sedan
  • Avalon Hybrid achieves 40 mpg in combined driving

Toyota has released details on the upcoming 2013 Avalon, including specifications for an available hybrid drivetrain, a first for the company's flagship sedan. When the redesigned Avalon made its auto show debut in New York earlier this year, Toyota promised the vehicle would be smaller, lighter and more nimble. While the base V6 in the non-hybrid version is identical to the one found in the current Avalon, Toyota says the new base V6-powered model offers better performance and economy. Paired with Toyota's proven Hybrid Synergy Drive setup, the 2013 Avalon is rated at an efficient 40 mpg combined.

Although the completely redesigned Avalon is narrower, lower and shorter in length, it rides on the same 111-inch wheelbase as its predecessor. The base 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower, just as it did in the 2012 model. But Toyota says the new sedan will be quieter and more economical. This is achieved largely through revised gearing. The 2012 Avalon was EPA rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The 2013 Avalon V6 has a rating of 21/31 mpg, or 25 mpg combined. That's a 2-mpg advantage over the outgoing car.

The 2013 Avalon Hybrid, however, offers a far greater fuel economy advantage over the 2012 model. It has an EPA rating of 40 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 40 mpg. Hybrid vehicles are often weighed down by heavy batteries, but the 2013 Avalon Hybrid is actually a bit lighter than the conventionally powered 2012 model. It's also capable of operating on electric power alone for up to one mile and at speeds up to 25 mph.

Both the V6 and the hybrid include three modes that allow drivers to tailor the vehicles' behavior to suit conditions or driving styles. The V6 has Eco, Normal and Sport modes. The Avalon Hybrid features Eco, EV and Sport modes.

The 2013 Avalon Hybrid will join a growing number of electrified premium sedans that offer both luxury and economical operation. The Buick LaCrosse eAssist is deemed a "mild hybrid," meaning that its electric motor provides only a small amount of additional power. Infiniti's M Hybrid is aimed more toward the performance driver, with combined gasoline-electric output of 360 horsepower. The GS 450h from Lexus, sister brand to Toyota, uses the same 3.5-liter V6 found in the conventionally powered Avalon but adds electric power. But none of these come close to the efficiency of the Avalon Hybrid. In fact, only the Lexus tops 30 mpg combined.

What it means to you: The 2013 Avalon is completely redesigned to be smaller and lighter and is offered with a highly fuel-efficient hybrid drivetrain.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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