Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive System combines output from a 2.5 L Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor. This arrangement produces a net of 200 horsepower, giving the 2018 Avalon Hybrid a strong and responsive acceleration with comfortable and quiet road manners.
The hybrid system allows the big Avalon sedan to earn EPA fuel economy ratings of 40 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, which gives you over 500 miles per full tank. In fact, I recently drove from Dallas to Galveston and back on just one tank of gas.
The hybrid system can switch between the gas engine and the electric motor, or combine both. This is achieved by channeling the power through a unique planetary gear set.
The Avalon Hybrid can drive solely on the electric motor for a short distance at speeds up to 20 mph.
The Hybrid System Indicator lives behind a 3.5-inch color TFT display. It shows the energy flow: whether the battery is being drained or is being charged through regenerative braking. The compact nickel-metal-hydride battery pack is located in the trunk area. Not to worry—there is still ample luggage space with a generous 14-cubic-foot volume.
I usually picked ECO mode for fuel efficiency, and I found that it does not significantly sacrifice power or torque. But my wife preferred Normal mode, which seems to balance everyday performance and mileage.
Inside, the top-of-line Limited model coddles the occupants. The perforated leather seats are wide and easily adjustable, with a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat that offers power lumbar support and power cushion extension, plus an 8-way adjustable seat for the front passenger. The back seats are full and comfortable as well.
Cold rainy weather this week in Texas made the heated front and rear seats and steering wheel all the more enjoyable.
And just to make sure that everyone has a say about temperature, tri-zone climate control offers independent settings for the rear seats too.
A cruising sedan like the Avalon needs a good infotainment system to complete the experience. You can play music from all the usual digital sources, including AM/FM/CD, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio, USB/Aux port, and Bluetooth streaming. The 7-inch touchscreen is also where the backup camera and navigation system live.
But I must confess, the 7-inch screen is just too small to read. Because of the small size, some streets and features are not shown properly, especially coastal areas and relatively new communities.
Also, the sound system allows little flexibility in adjusting the base and treble levels. Even when turned all the way down, they overpower the music. I suspect the system is manufactured by another vendor. In this case, it may not get as much attention from Toyota as it would if Toyota were more involved in the production.
As for safety features, Toyota Safety Sense P is standard offering. The package includes four technologies: Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Outside, the Avalon adds a sports flavor. It has a hidden exhaust with a chrome accented cover, a power tilt/slide moonroof, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The MSRP for the Avalon Hybrid Limited is $42,800.
The Avalon was bold, bright, and comfortable. As my wife and I drove through Houston, rain plummeted down in buckets. Visibility was negligible as water filled many low-lying spaces. Traffic was stop-and-go all through the city, and wrecks were as popular as emergency vehicles. But our cabin was warm and cozy, and the strong brakes and clear outward visibility boosted confidence, making the travel much less strenuous.
We arrived home safely. I told my wife I appreciated how calm she was, never commenting on my driving or offering suggestions. She seemed to have slept during the whole trip. I thanked her for having such confidence in my driving skills.
Then she replied. She wasn’t asleep, she said, but had been praying for the last two hours.
36-month/36,000-mile Basic New Vehicle Warranty
60-month/60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
6o-months/Unlimited-mile Corrosion Warranty
96-month/100,000-mile Hybrid Components Warranty
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at [email protected]