•  The Avalon received five overall stars
  •  Best performance was in the side impact test
  •  Earned four stars in the frontal and rollover tests

The new 2013 Toyota Avalon has earned top honors in government crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the sedan a 5-star overall crash test rating. Strong showings in all three NHTSA tests led to the Avalon's high score.

According to the NHTSA, the Avalon earned a perfect 5-star rating in the side impact test. That involves a 3,000-lb barrier hitting the driver's side at 38 miles per hour. The Avalon's five stars mean occupants face a chance of injury below 5 percent.

The Avalon also scored high marks in rollover and frontal impact tests. In both cases, it earned four stars. That corresponds to an 11 to 20 percent chance of injury. Frontal impact tests measure injury risk when a car hits a barrier at 35 mph. Rollover tests combine real-world driving with a car's height and weight stats.

Despite earning four stars in two tests and five in one, the Avalon still earned an overall 5-star score. That's possible due to the way the NHTSA computes the total score. For example: If the Avalon performed very well in the side impact and barely missed five stars in the other two tests, the scores can average to five total stars.

The NHTSA says that the Avalon Hybrid earned the same 5-star total score as the gas-powered model. That means the Hybrid also got five stars in the side impact test and four in rollover and frontal assessments.

All-new for 2013, the Avalon is entering its fourth generation. Four trims are offered, ranging from a base-level XLE to an upscale Limited. Base pricing starts around $31,800 for XLE models and reaches over $40,000 for the Avalon Limited. Power comes from a 268-horsepower V6. A 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which produces 200 hp, is optional. With that engine, the Avalon returns a miserly 40 mpg city and 39 mpg on the highway.

What it means to you: Shoppers interested in safety should make sure the 2013 Toyota Avalon is included on their shopping lists.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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