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The Avalon—Toyota’s luxury sedan—debuted in 1995 and rode on a stretched Camry platform. Throughout its life, the Avalon underwent many changes, some good and some bad. After a third generation that lasted seven years, Toyota finally updated the Avalon and even added in a hybrid variant for 2013.
The 2013 model year is the first time that Toyota has offered up a hybrid variant for its range-topping Avalon. This new model comes has three available trim levels—XLE Premium, XLE Touring and Limited—and all four come fitted with the same 2.5-liter hybrid system that produces a total of 200 horsepower and hooks up to a continuously variable transmission.
With this drivetrain, the Avalon Hybrid sprints to 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds, and returns an EPA-estimated 40 mpg city and 39 mph highway. It rides a little more stiffly than the typical luxury car, though, something to consider if you take long trips.
The Toyota Avalon Hybrid’s all-new skin is a bit of a mixed bag. Up front, you have an almost wedge-like fascia that gives it a near-sporty look; an elegant profile and executive-looking backside, however, give it a touch of class. Add in the wraparound taillights and the standard 17-inch silver wheels, and you have a package that can easily fit in with anyone’s preferences.
Inside the cabin, you get a instant feeling of elegance, as you’re greeted by heated leather seats, a clean layout and a refreshing lack of hard plastics. All of the buttons seem to be well within the driver’s reach, eliminating the need to reach across a sea of buttons and knobs to adjust the climate control. Additionally, the Avalon still offers up a rather impressive 14 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk—only two cubic feet less than the standard Avalon—despite the intrusion of hybrid electronics.
The Limited model turns the Avalon into a full-on luxury model by building on the Touring level. This trim comes standard with: automatic HID headlights with LED daytime running lights; wide-angle fog lights; LED taillights; heated power mirrors with position memory; a moonroof; 17-inch alloy wheels coated in silver paint; rain-sensing wipers; a noise-reducing windshield; three-zone climate control; IntelliTouch climate and audio controls; a premium hard-drive-based navigation system; a JBL audio system with Entune, 11 GreenEdge speakers, USB port, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity and AM/FM/CD/MP3 capabilities; a rearview camera; cruise control; a premium-leather-trimmed steering wheel; heated perforated-leather seats with 10-way power driver's seat and eight-way power passenger seat; White Ice interior ambient lighting; and a power rear-window sunshade.
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Better mpg, powerful engine and luxurious, but slower acceleration
Low base price, stylish body and huge mpg, but lacks luxury
Premium brand, stylish body and same driveline as Avalon, but more expensive
Great mpg, stylish body and 10 to 15 miles of electric driving, but more expensive and newer technology