Since Ford’s LTD in 1965, entry-level brands have been fielding near-premium sedans. The LTD may have long ago went the way of eight-track tapes, but big, well-optioned sedans built by mass-market automakers live on, albeit precariously. Yet despite the shrinking relevance of the niche, Toyota remains committed to the segment with its evergreen Avalon. It offers buyers features aplenty in a package boasting traditional comfort and size, a formula that carries on for 2018. The Avalon Hybrid elevates the big Toyota's persona by adding to the mix a fuel efficient gas/electric hybrid powertrain.
What's New for 2018
The Avalon Hybrid quietly motors into 2018 largely unaltered, save for a slight change in trim level nomenclature. Toyota introduced a redesigned Avalon at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, with sales slated to begin in spring 2018.
Choosing Your Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Buyers can outfit their parsimonious Avalon in one of three trims: XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited. Regardless of the level of equipment and ornamentation, all Avalon Hybrids sport a 2.5-liter four cylinder that is mated to an electric motor. The result of this marriage is a combined 200 horsepower sent to the front wheels through an electric continuously variable transmission. For added efficiency, an EV drive mode allows drivers to operate in purely electric mode for short distances under 20 mph. Fuel economy for the hybrid is an impressive 40 miles per gallon city, 39 highway, and 40 combined.
Three interior hues and a variety of exterior paints are available, including the lavishly named Oh La La Rouge, Crème Brulee and Sizzling Crimson. Topping off the exterior aesthetics are the standard 17-inch wheels, finished in either dark gray for XLE Plus and Premium models or more traditional chrome for the top-spec Limited.
On the safety side of things, all flavors of Avalon come with ten airbags, braking assist and smart-stop brake override, as well as the expected ABS and stability control.
Of the three Avalon Hybrid trims, there's not a single optional extra.
The Hybrid Limited is priced right in the mechanically identical - and more prestigious - Lexus ES territory; in fact, an ES Hybrid only costs an additional $120 more once the destination charge is factored in. Because of this, buyers shouldn't go past the XLE Premium, which gives buyers an excellent amount of content at a price point still a few thousand below the Lexus.
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