The Toyota Avalon was once just a slightly glorified, moderately larger Camry. A few years have gone by and with last year’s redesign it stands firmly on its own as a step above the Camry in ever sense.
The exterior is sleek and almost sporty with an appeal that could have you walking in thinking you want a Camry, but walking out with an Avalon instead. It has the lines of a sedan, but with just enough style to make it interesting. There’s a lower air dam up front for 2014 and a tapered roofline that gives it some edginess.
It’s all part of Toyota’s strategy to appeal to a slightly younger demographic. No, it’s not for the twenty-something looking for a fun new ride, but it will hit that forty-something who needs a sedan for the family but doesn’t want to be driving something dowdy.
The interior design is even more of a surprise, looking better than the Camry which just received a major redesign for 2015. The Camry might be the more newly redone car, but the Avalon looks more slick. It is not a luxury car, but it has just a touch of luxury style.
There’s a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-trimmed front seats that are heated and power adjustable. There are plastic surfaces, but they look good rather than cheap without any of the tried but couldn’t you find in many sedans coming in under the $40K mark.
It’s a roomy car, but not exactly spacious. Rear passengers have ample headroom and their knees won’t be knocking the front seats, but the front can be tight. Those front seats don’t really move back far enough for those over 6-feet making the ride cramped for tall guys.
The base price for the Toyota Avalon Hybrid is $36,750 and that comes with quite a list of standard features. Ten airbags, anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitor, vehicle stability control, and electronic brake force distribution are all there to keep you safe.
Then there are the convenience features like a power tilt/slide moonroof, dual zone automatic climate control, backup camera, 6.1″ touchscreen for the infotainment system and 3.5″ TFT display. Smart key and push button start are also included so you’re getting a fully featured sedan for under $40K and it’s a hybrid so you’ll be saving cash at the pump.
Powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and an electric motor, this hybrid will get you an average of 40 MPG. Even with gas prices dropping fast, that’s a heck of a value for those who do lots of driving.
I wasn’t so much impressed with the mileage as I was with the actual drive. Hybrids are notoriously noisy buggers when you demand some power on the highway, but the Avalon Hybrid did not yell at me to take it easy. Instead, it accelerated smoothly and quietly so I nearly forgot I was driving a hybrid.
The combined 200 horsepower doesn’t exactly make the Avalon peppy, but it’s no slouch either and getting up to highway speeds in a hurry is no problem. It also handles nicely with tight steering that can be made even better by choosing Sport Mode. Sure, it runs counter to the idea of a hybrid, but it does make the car more fun to drive.
The ride quality is good with only the harshest of potholes and road dips making a nuisance of themselves to passengers. Here the steering really shined, with rough roads requiring only the slightest of steering corrections.
The one drawback to the ride was the noise. Road noise isn’t too bad, but wind noise was very noticeable. You might not be bothered by it while talking to the person next to you, but having a conversation with anyone in the back seat is a challenge.
The 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a best of both worlds kind of car. It has just a taste of the luxury styling found in more expensive sedans with the more affordable price of a Toyota. Add in the fuel efficiency of a hybrid and you have a sedan with lots to offer.
2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Touring
Base Price: $36,750
Price As Tested: $37,174 (not including destination charge)
- Beautiful Interior
- Comfortable Ride
- Front Legroom
- Intrusive Wind Noise