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2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader May 2017

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 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, which, as you might deduce, is a hybrid version of Toyota's Avalon full-size sedan.

So what does that entail? Well, as an Avalon, it has a huge luxurious cabin, an abundance of standard features (including a variety of accident avoidance tech for 2017) and a highly refined driving experience. But then, since it's a hybrid, it adds superior fuel economy of 40 mpg in combined driving -- the regular version gets 24. That means on average you'll be saving about $600 per year on gas savings. Given that you only pay about $1,500 more compared to a comparable regular Avalon, you'll get its price premium back much quicker than the typical hybrid.

As such, the Avalon Hybrid might just be the Avalon to get -- and if you don't care that much about outright speed, it might be the go-to full-size sedan as well.

 What's New for 2017?

Every Avalon now comes standard with the Safety Sense package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, and automatic high beams.

 What We Like

Extremely efficient; standard accident avoidance tech; huge and luxurious interior; a lot of technology

What We Don't

Reasonable pricing for a hybrid but still pretty high; mediocre acceleration

 How Much?

$39,000-$42,800

 Fuel Economy

The Avalon Hybrid's powertrain consists of a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with an electric motor and a battery pack. Environmental Protection Agency-rated gas mileage stands at 40 miles per gallon in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg in combined driving. This is exceptional for a full-size sedan, and means you'll save hundreds of dollars every year on gas.

 Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid comes in three trim levels: XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited.

The XLE Plus ($37,300) comes standard with automatic headlights, 17-in alloy wheels, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated power front seats, keyless passive entry and push-button start, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a USB port and a 7-in touchscreen with Toyota's Entune infotainment interface.

The XLE Premium ($38,800 hybrid) adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, driver memory functions, an improved version of Toyota's Entune infotainment system with navigation and app functionality, wireless smartphone charging and a 9-speaker sound system.

The Limited ($42,600) adds xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, additional front seat power adjustments, a power rear sunshade, an 11-speaker JBL sound system and Toyota's Safety Connect system, which offers roadside assistance, automatic collision notification and more.

 Safety

The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, 10 standard airbags, a backup camera, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, and automatic high beams. The XLE Premium and Limited include rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

In government crash tests, the Avalon earned a 5-star overall rating. That score consisted of a 5-star side-impact rating and 4-star ratings in frontal and rollover assessments. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Avalon an excellent Top Safety Pick score due to its top performance in all crash tests and its Superior-rated front crash prevention system.

 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 2017 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 improved responses, you'll find that the Avalon Hybrid still offers everything you've always liked about the Avalon. There's a smooth and comfortable ride, a roomy back seat and a well-crafted interior that dips its toe deep into the luxury pool.

Indeed, we have few gripes about the Avalon Hybrid's driving experience except to say that its acceleration is middling compared to the gas-powered model. That's probably a small trade-off for most drivers considering the Avalon Hybrid's massive fuel economy advantage.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Lexus ES 300h -- The ES 300h shares the Avalon's platform and hybrid powertrain. It doesn't have as much space inside, its cabin is even more luxurious and the two cars don't look anything alike, but considering both is recommended.

2017 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 also strongly suggest considering the MKZ Hybrid before buying an Avalon.

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid -- If you don't need a car as big as the Avalon, consider the Accord Hybrid. In addition to a long list of available luxury features, the Accord Hybrid offers impressive gas-mileage numbers that reach as high as 49 mpg city. 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 most of what you could possibly want, and it doesn't cost a fortune, which is sort of the point of a hybrid car. The fact that it now comes standard with accident avoidance tech sort of seals the deal from our perspective.

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2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader