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2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: New Car Review

Choosing a hybrid usually seems like a good idea until you realize that it’ll take years and possibly forever to repay the price premium with gas savings. The redesigned 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, however, bucks that trend considerably. It’s so much more efficient than the base V6 engine and its price premium is so reasonable at $1,000, that you’ll likely pay the premium back in less than two years. You’ll be playing with house money thereafter.

Of course, the Hybrid’s acceleration isn’t nearly as strong as that of the V6’s, but it’s sufficient and we doubt performance is at the top of many potential buyers’ wish lists. Instead, they should be impressed with the luxurious new cabin for 2019 that’s handsomely styled and easy to use. The 9-in touchscreen mounted high on the tower-like center stack is particularly easy to reach and see. Space, as expected for a full-size sedan, is generous, and the trunk is the same size as the V6-powered model for 2019 — the result of the hybrid battery moving under the back seat.

Substantial changes were also made to the Avalon’s mechanical underpinnings for 2019, resulting in a far more responsive and engaging car to drive that doesn’t sacrifice comfort. This really is an impressive car, and not only is the Hybrid the Avalon to get, it’s arguably THE full-size sedan to get.

What’s New for 2019?

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid has been completely redesigned for 2019. See the 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid models for sale near you

What We Like

Superior fuel economy; hybrid will pay for itself in less than two years; same trunk size as V6 model; luxurious and spacious interior; composed handling; top safety ratings

What We Don’t

Not that much power for the segment; headroom may be tight for some; more grille than a barbecue competition

How Much?

$36,500-$42,800

Fuel Economy

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine aided by a pair of electric motors fed by a battery pack located under the back seat. Total system output is 215 horsepower, which is considerably less than the V6-powered Avalon and other vehicles in the segment.

On the other hand, its fuel economy is exponentially better. The XLE trim level is estimated to return 43 miles per gallon in the city, 44 mpg on the highway and 44 mpg in combined driving. Those lower to 43 mpg city/43 mpg hwy/43 mpg combined in other trims. Based on gas prices at the time of this writing, you could save $550 per year by going with the Hybrid instead of the V6. The price difference between comparable trims is only $1,000, so you could pay back the hybrid premium in less than two years, which is virtually unheard of.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is available in three trim levels: XLE, XSE and Limited.

Standard equipment on the XLE ($36,500) includes 17-in wheels, automatic LED headlights, heated mirrors, proximity entry and push-button start, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, adjustable drive modes (EV, Eco, Normal and Sport), dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 8-way power front seats, SofTex simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding back seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, four USB ports, a 9-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, in-car Wi-Fi, SafetyConnect emergency services and an 8-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite and HD radios. The Moonroof package adds a sunroof and wireless smartphone charging.

The XSE ($39,000) gets unique styling plus 18-in wheels, a sunroof, a special upholstery consisting of suedecloth and SofTex, steering wheel paddle shifters for simulating transmission shifts, aluminum interior trim and wireless smartphone charging.

The XLE and XSE can be equipped with an optional 14-speaker JBL sound system.

The range-topping Limited ($42,800) reverts to the XLE styling and adds upgraded headlights, a color head-up display, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wood interior trim, the JBL sound system, wireless smartphone charging and integrated navigation. Its optional Advanced Safety package adds a top-view parking camera, rear cross-traffic emergency braking and parking sensors.

Safety

The Avalon comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, 10 airbags (front, front-side, rear-side, side curtain and front knee), forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and SafetyConnect emergency communications. Rear cross-traffic emergency braking can be added to the Limited.

The 2019 Avalon was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It got the best possible ratings in every crash worthiness and prevention category, plus those for headlights and the usability of its child seat LATCH anchors. It’s impossible to do any better.

Behind the Wheel

The Avalon Hybrid is a pleasure to drive. Besides delivering the expected comfort and quiet of a full-size sedan, its handling and overall precision have been dramatically improved for the all-new 2019 model. It feels more hunkered down and responsive, and not just compared to past Avalons that were a bit like uninvolving rolling couches. Better still, the Hybrid doesn’t skip a beat — if anything, its battery being located under the back seat balances the car and improves handling further.

Really, if you don’t care about rapid acceleration, there’s no reason to get the V6 instead of the Hybrid. If you do, however, its 215 hp is pretty meager for this segment. The electric motors help make it feel reasonably sprightly around town, but charging hard up a highway on-ramp will have the engine protesting loudly with the tell-tale drone of a Toyota hybrid.

The cabin is another Avalon strong suit. It’s absolutely enormous, as expected for the segment, and even its trunk doesn’t suffer from reduced capacity as past hybrid sedans did. Quality is excellent and everything’s pretty easy to use. We especially like the huge 9-in touchscreen that’s mounted very high and easily reached.

If there’s one potential flaw is that the Avalon’s lower roof for 2019 may have resulted in sleeker styling, but when paired to the available sunroof, you may find your head uncomfortably close to the ceiling. This, despite a lowered, less chair-like driving position evocative of more driving-oriented cars (which for the most part is a good thing).

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid — If you don’t need the Avalon’s space, the Camry Hybrid can be nearly as luxurious and even more efficient. It’s also not exactly small.

2019 Honda Accord Hybrid — The same can pretty much be said about the Accord Hybrid. Its hybrid powertrain differs from Toyota’s, though, so you might like how it drives better.

2019 Lexus ES 300h — The ES is mechanically related to the Avalon Hybrid, but trades some interior space for a sharper driving experience and a more luxurious cabin. The price is a bit higher.

Used Lexus ES 300h — If a new ES is too pricey, consider a used or certified pre-owned model. This would be the previous-generation model, but it still has plenty to offer.

Autotrader’s Advice

The base car is so well-equipped that there’s no problem just sticking with that. Still, the range-topping Limited isn’t that much more expensive and brings with it a variety of desirable niceties, including leather upholstery. We’d probably accept a slightly higher monthly payment and go with that. Find a Toyota Avalon Hybrid for sale

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