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2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2015

If you're looking for a fuel-efficient full-size sedan, you don't have too many options to choose from. Add a hybrid to your parameters, and there's really only one: the 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid version of Toyota's popular Avalon full-size sedan.

What exactly does the Avalon Hybrid entail? Similar to the smaller Camry Hybrid, it combines all of the Avalon's excellent attributes, such as a smooth ride, roomy interior and reasonable pricing, with hybrid-car gas mileage. The only downsides are a somewhat higher price than a gas-powered model and slightly slower acceleration.

If you don't mind paying more of a premium and compromising on speed in order to get better gas mileage from your Avalon, this may be just the fuel-efficient full-size sedan for you.

What's New for 2015?

The Avalon Hybrid gets only minor changes for 2015. Revisions include an updated version of Toyota's Entune infotainment system, along with a standard blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert for the upscale XLE Touring model.

What We Like

Graceful styling; surprisingly high fuel economy for a full-size sedan; huge interior; lots of technology

What We Don't

Premium pricing; acceleration is only mediocre with the hybrid

How Much?

$37,300-$42,500

Fuel Economy

The Avalon Hybrid offers only one engine: a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that powers the sedan's front wheels using a fuel-saving continuously variable automatic transmission. Gas mileage ratings from the Environmental Protection Agency stand at 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid comes in three trim levels: base-level XLE Premium, midlevel XLE Touring and upscale Limited.

Although the XLE Premium ($37,300) is technically the base trim, its equipment places it high on the Avalon ladder when compared to gas-powered models. Standard features include alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a power sunroof, leather upholstery with heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch display, Bluetooth, a backup camera and dual power front seats.

Upgrade to the XLE Touring ($38,700), and you'll get a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and Toyota's Entune Premium Audio system, which adds a 7-in touchscreen, a navigation system and smartphone app integration.

Topping the range is the luxurious Avalon Limited ($42,500), which features automatic wipers, xenon headlights, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and an 11-speaker JBL sound system.

Although the Avalon doesn't offer many options, the Limited model touts an available Technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, a forward-collision warning system and Qi wireless phone charging.

Safety

All Avalon models come standard with a wide range of safety equipment, including anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, side-curtain airbags and a backup camera. The blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on the Avalon XLE Touring, while adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning are optional on the upscale Avalon Limited.

In government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Avalon earned a perfect 5-star overall score, including 4-star scores in rollover and frontal-impact assessments and a 5-star side-impact score. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Avalon scored an impressive Top Safety Pick designation.

Behind the Wheel

Although previous Avalon models felt floaty and disengaged behind the wheel, that's no longer true with the latest version. Instead, the 2015 Avalon offers surprisingly sharp handling and a good steering feel even with the hybrid model, which usually gets the short end of the driving-experience stick.

Despite its newfound sporty character, you'll find that the Avalon Hybrid offers everything you've always liked about the Avalon. There's a smooth, comfortable ride and a surprisingly roomy and well-crafted interior that outshines the cabin of earlier models.

Indeed, we have few gripes about the Avalon's driving experience except to say that its acceleration is middling compared to the gas-powered model, but that's a small trade-off considering the Avalon Hybrid's impressive fuel economy figures.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Lexus ES 300h -- The ES 300h is largely based on the Avalon and shares the same platform and engine. Aside from cosmetic revisions inside and out, the ES's biggest difference is its higher price, a function of its premium badge and world-class dealership experience.

2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- The MKZ Hybrid is one of our favorite new models, thanks to an impressive combination of bold styling, high-end materials and excellent fuel economy. We strongly suggest considering the MKZ Hybrid before buying an Avalon.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- If you don't need a car that's as big as the Avalon, consider the Camry Hybrid. In addition to a long list of available luxury features, the Camry Hybrid offers impressive gas mileage numbers that reach as high as 43 mpg city/39 mpg hwy. Prices are lower, too.

Used Lexus GS 450h -- Although the GS 450h only offers 29 mpg city/34 mpg hwy, the rear-drive sedan boasts a sportier demeanor than the Avalon, along with more power. Prices are high, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

AutoTrader's Advice

We'd go for the midlevel Avalon XLE Touring. It's only around $1,500 more than the base-level Premium model, and it includes two crucial safety features (a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert), along with a better Entune system and navigation. To us, that makes it the best value in the lineup.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader