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2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2016

If you're looking for a fuel-efficient full-size sedan, you don't have too many options from which to choose. Add hybrid to your parameters, and there's really only one: the 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, which, as you might expect, is a hybrid version of Toyota's popular Avalon full-size sedan.

What does the Avalon Hybrid entail? Much like the smaller Camry Hybrid, imagine a car that combines all the Avalon's excellent attributes, including a smooth ride, a roomy interior and reasonable pricing, with hybrid-car gas mileage. The only downsides are a slightly higher price than a gas-powered model and slightly slower acceleration.

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

What's New for 2016?

The Avalon Hybrid is largely unchanged for 2016, save for the removal of the Touring trim level from its lineup and an updated front end with a revised grille and new turn-signal lamps.

What We Like

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

What We Don't

Premium pricing; acceleration is only mediocre with the hybrid

How Much?

$39,000-$42,800

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. Environmental Protection Agency-rated gas mileage stands at 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid comes in two trim levels: XLE Premium and Limited. Last year's Touring trim has been dropped, and the XLE Premium model has added the Touring's features as standard equipment.

Although the XLE Premium ($39,000) is technically the base trim, its equipment places it high up on the Avalon rung compared to gas-powered Avalon 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 premium audio and infotainment system with a 7-inch display, Bluetooth, a backup camera, dual power front seats, a navigation system, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

Topping the range is the luxurious Avalon Limited ($42,800), which features automatic wipers, xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade, tri-zone automatic climate control, Toyota's Safety Connect system and an 11-speaker JBL sound system.

Although the Avalon doesn't offer many options, the Limited model touts an available technology-geared package, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, a forward-collision warning system and Qi cellphone 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, along with newly standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Options include automatic high beams, a forward-collision warning system and adaptive cruise control.

In government crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Avalon earned a perfect 5-star overall score, a rating that includes 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 have felt floaty and disengaged behind the wheel, that's no longer true with the latest version. Instead, the 2016 Avalon offers surprisingly sharp handling and good steering feel, even in 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, a surprisingly roomy interior and a well-crafted interior that outshines the cabin in 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, which is a small trade-off for most drivers considering the Avalon Hybrid's impressive fuel economy figures.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Lexus ES 300h -- The ES 300h is largely based on the Avalon, sharing 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.

2016 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.

2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- If you don't need a car 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 also boasts a sportier demeanor than the Avalon and more power. Prices are high, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd go for the base-level XLE Premium. It has virtually everything you need, and it doesn't cost a fortune, which is sort of the point of a hybrid car. Only opt for the Limited if you really want the additional safety features available in its optional technology-focused package.

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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.
2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader