When your older sibling is the most popular hybrid vehicle in history, the pressure is on. Could the Toyota Avalon Hybrid hold its own while its ever-expanding Prius family members thrive? The answer is a resounding yes.

Introduced in late 2012, the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid further separates current hybrids from their debut more than 15 years ago.

17 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is stylish and efficient.
The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is stylish and efficient. All images © James Raia/2017

Once awkward-looking and awkward-functioning sedans comparable to futuristic vehicles featured in movies and television programs, hybrids are now mainstream. Their superior gas mileage is equaled by overall attractive styling, performance and functionality.

The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is an exemplary example. It’s a continuation of last year’s model, but the formerly optional Safety Sense package, which includes forward collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking and lane departure warning and intervention, is now standard equipment.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Available in three trims, the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine matched with an electric motor stored in battery pack perched in the trunk. The two power sources combine for 200 horsepower. It’s propelled by a front-wheel drive continuously variable transmission.

Like all manufacturers’ hybrids, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid accelerates slower than the gas-only version. It advances from 0-60 miles per hour in 7.7 seconds. The V6 gas-only version completes the standard test in 6.7 seconds, which is in the standard range for mainstream large sedans. In the hybrid segment, the Toyota Avalon is swift.

Standard equipment lists are extensive throughout the Toyota lineup, including the Avalon. The top-line Limited trim, my test vehicle, includes all of the XLE and XLE Premium equipment, plus another a lengthy array of extras, including: Xenon headlights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming outside mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded gauge cluster, and upgraded leather upholstery.

Further, there’s a 10-way power driver seat, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a rear power sunshade, ambient lighting and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.

Driving the Avalon hybrid is an exercise of serenity, at least much as any driving excursion qualifies. The cabin is quiet at all speeds, particularly at stop signs and stoplights when the engine runs on electric mode. The exception is the periodic low engine whine.

Despite its global popularity, the Toyota Prius has nothing on the Toyota Avalon. It took the manufacturer more than a decade to shed the former’s ghastly exterior design. The Avalon Hybrid has a sophisticated interior and exterior.

The cabin is constructed with top-grade materials and the front and back seats are comfortable and sturdy. The Limited trim’s heated back seats and power rear window shade complement the experience. The two features not available on many more expensive sedans.

Technology and storage necessities are covered: There’s an “ebin” in the center console that houses the cable pass-through for cellphone charging. It’s situated next to USB and 12-volt outlets. Storage areas are plentiful, with a large center console pit and several smaller bins.

Most hybrids lose substantial trunk space for battery storage. The Avalon hybrid has 14 cubic feet of cargo storage, only two cubic feet less than the gas Avalon.

Likes:
Exemplary fuel economy for a large sedan.
Upscale, quiet interior with roomy front and rear seating.
Large trunk.

Dislikes:
Soft brakes.
Hybrid engine “whine.”

Facts & Figures: 2017 Toyota Avalon (Hybrid)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.7 seconds.
Airbags: 10.
Fuel economy: 40 mpg (city), 39 mpg (highway), 40 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 200.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $42,550.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: www.toyota.com.
Price As Tested: $43,639.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Hybrid electrical components: 8 years/100,000 miles; Maintenance, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“An efficient hybrid version is also offered, pairing a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor and sending 200 hp through a CVT. For long-distance cruising in style and comfort, the Avalon is hard to beat—and its dashing looks will charm more than just the AARP set.” –– carandriver.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“If there’s any stigma remaining against hybrid vehicles, the 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid eliminates it. It’s a smooth-driving, attractive and well-made sedan with superior gas mileage.”

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