Photo: 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Photo 1

Toyota’s old-man sedan … who would have thought? A nice drive, relatively quick and it looks good, too. I think ‘Yota’s pulling a Hyundai here, getting on a roll with good products that aren’t completely boring to drive. This Avalon, though it seems a bit expensive, could offer sedan buyers everything they need.

It’s a handsome car, many, many steps ahead of the stodgy old one. The gaping grille looks good with the chrome and it even has a little style with the curving front bars. That, plus the headlight treatment, gives it a very futuristic look, if you’re into that sort of thing. The overall shape looks slippery, good for those 40 mpg combined, and the rear is clean and bordering on elegant.

The interior is a little boring, but thankfully it’s not beige. The touchscreen works as it should and the radio volume and tuning have big knobs, which is always a plus. The temperature control uses a less-intuitive Cadillac CUE-like slider, but it seems to work well enough. Sight lines are good out of the front and rear, and it seems like there’s a ton of space in back. It also hooked up to my iPhone immediately, a welcome change that’s getting more and more common these days.

Photo: 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Photo 10

2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Thrust is surprisingly brisk off the line with the added electric boost. In sport mode, it actually feels quick; in eco mode, it’s still livable. The brakes are great, a rare treat for hybrid-style regenerative brakes, which usually have an on/off feel. The pedal is firm right from the top of the stroke and feels mostly smooth all the way down.

The Avalon starts at about $33,000, and goes up to about $43K for the Hybrid Limited. This one is just the basic Hybrid, the third most expensive in the lineup. It offers full-size sedan accoutrements, and judging by the gauge computer, I averaged 38.6 mpg — and I wasn’t babying it by any means.

Is it “cool”? Not really, but most people don’t care about that anyway, at least for a daily driver. The Chevy Impala is probably a good competitor; I know it has a cheaper base price, and it looks cooler, but I think the Avalon’s interior is better.

— Jake Lingeman, road test editor

Photo: 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Photo 4

2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid


After a lot of research (my parents, die-hard full-size sedan buyers, are looking for a new car) it comes down to this: If you’re in an exurban/rural area without a lot of stop-and-go driving, the Chevy Impala is my pick for a big sedan. Folks who have to commute and sit in traffic a lot will be happier in the Toyota Avalon Hybrid.

Both cars are fantastic with flaws so minor it almost comes down to styling preference, but the Chevrolet is more fun to drive on two-lane roads, with what feels like better grip and tighter steering. The Avalon Hybrid can’t be beat around town, with its smooth, electric acceleration invisibly handing off to the gas engine, then recuperating that energy 50 feet later for the next set of brake lights. The tradeoff, as one would imagine, is less engaging handling, but for those of us who shuffle along congested interstates twice a day, it’s a moot point.

Realistically look at your driving needs then make your choice — you can’t go wrong either way; in fact, the only questionable purchase may be a regular Avalon over the hybrid when the gas/electric model is this good and so reasonably priced.

Andrew Stoy, digital editor

Photo: 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Photo 5

2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid