Impressive fuel economy. With the domestics leaving the sedan space, the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid represents the last remaining near-luxury hybrid offering in the midsize class. Down on horsepower from the gas version, the hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an 88-kW electric motor still offers a respectable 215 net horsepower.
More importantly, the XLE Hybrid’s EPA-estimated 43 miles per gallon city, 44 mpg highway, and 44 combined easily eclipses the non-hybrid’s 22/32/26 mpg (city/highway/combined).
While power is more than sufficient and continuously variable transmission drone is kept to a minimum, the 2.5-liter engine sounds rough when pushed.
Polished, versatile cabin. All-new last year alongside the gasoline-only version, the latest Avalon Hybrid features near-luxury levels of interior refinement with soft-touch surfaces, silky-smooth and intuitive controls, and aluminum, engineered, or real wood trim. It also features excellent driver sightlines and class-best rear shoulder, leg, and headroom.
In addition, when redesigning the Avalon Hybrid for 2019, engineers were able to reduce the size of the battery pack and move it from the trunk to under the rear seats. This allows the back seats to flip and fold forward individually, expanding the 16.09 cubic feet of trunk space and adding the flexibility and versatility to haul much larger items.
At the same time, the center rear seat cushion is on the firm side, and probably not suitable for long road trips.
Feature rich. Befitting its near-luxury assignment the Avalon comes equipped with a long list of standard features. There are LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights.
Luxury is enhanced with an acoustic noise-reducing windshield and side windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, easily-cleaned faux leather seats, and heated front seats.
The infotainment system is also user-friendly, featuring a 9-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Toyota connected services, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Five USB ports and a 7-inch TFT driver instrument cluster display are also standard.
Wide-ranging safety. The Avalon Hybrid sports a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and either a Top Safety Pick (XSE trim with LED reflector headlights) or Top Safety Pick Plus (Limited trim with LED projector headlights) from the IIHS.
It's equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense P suite that includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning.
Final thoughts. Occupying the niche hybrid space in a dwindling large sedan class virtually by itself, the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid checks a number of boxes. It offers a roomy and luxurious cabin, advanced safety features, and impressive fuel economy.
Nits are few: an engine that sounds rough when pressed, steering feel on the numb side, an overly-aggressive grille, no all-wheel drive, and only three trim levels to choose from.
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