Published on December 23rd, 2013 | by Jo Borras5
Driving 500 Miles in the 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
The last time I drove a Toyota Camry Hybrid was back in June, and I ended up sick on the side of the road in Texas- was it the Toyota‘s fault, or was it my third Whataburger? I reached out to Toyota after my return to Chicago in order to give them a shot at complete vindication- but Toyota didn’t have a Camry Hybrid in its Chicago fleet to offer me. What they did have for, however, was a 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, which uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive as the Camry … would I be interested in driving the Avalon?
When I first experienced the newest Avalon during the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, I was blown away by how nice the car was. The ride was smooth and quiet, the interior fit and finish was exceptional, and the tactile qualities of the brushed metal controls were just incredible. I mean, just look at how nice it is in there …
… what you can’t tell from the photos is that the non-touchscreen controls for audio, HVAC, etc. are pressure-sensitive sections under a sheet of machined metal (feels like aluminum, maybe). All the buttons feel the same, they’re laid out logically, and they make anything else you’ve ever been in feel cheap- and, lest you think that’s an exaggeration, I offer the following actual conversation I had in the Avalon as evidence.
Wife: How much is this car?
Me: How much do you think it is?
Wife: How much is Mike’s car? (A 2009 Mercedes-Benz S550)
Me: The sticker on his car was $97,000. It’s in his glovebox.
Wife: Oh. This car seems nicer than that, but it’s less right? Because it’s a Toyota? I like this interior more. Is it expensive?
Me: What’s expensive?
Wife: Like, $60,000?
Me: It’s $41,000, but you can get all the leather and stuff for 36.
When a mainstream carmaker can build an interior that makes the inside of Mercedes’ flagship seem mediocre- and at half the price!- you’ve gotta think they have a winner.
Gone, too, is the “battery hump” found in other carmakers’ hybrid sedans. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid’s trunk is plenty roomy, and lacks the awkward shapes and bumps found in, say, my 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid. Take a look in the Avalon’s trunk …
… and all you see is flat, level carpeting.
Beyond the quality, high-end feel of the materials and general roominess to be found in the Toyota Avalon Hybrid’s interior, however, is the mileage. It’s simply staggering that car that’s this big and this nice and this high-speed highway capable hits the MPG numbers the Avalon does. I drove my test Avalon from Chicago to Indianapolis for the 2013 PRI show on a -3 degree morning. I left super-early, too, because I was planning on making good time. Despite carrying just about as much speed as I felt comfortable with in the extreme cold, after nearly 500 miles of driving I got back this …
… 35.4 MPG. That’s over 35 MPG in a full-size luxury car with nearly as much horsepower as my old ’87 Ford Mustang 5.0 (200 hp in the Avalon, 205 hp in the 5.0 V8 Mustang, in case you were curious), and about the same MPG as you’d get in a Chevy Aveo econobox. A bit better, in fact, and I think my numbers were hurt by the extreme cold and the fact that I started off both legs of the round trip with a nearly flat battery (EV mode not available, battery bars in the purple).
So, yeah- how can you say anything bad about a car that has more than enough power, more than enough room, more than enough luxury, all the goodies, and doesn’t stand out in a crowd? I mean, I guess you could say that you want a car that stands out in a crowd, but I’d accuse you of being too young to understand why that was a bad idea and follow that up with a question about your insurance rates and points on your license, you know?
You know, and that’s why you want a new Toyota Avalon Hybrid. If you think you need something more than this, you’re probably terrible.