2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited Test Drive

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“2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited”
A 40 mpg Premium Hybrid
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The Toyota Avalon was a unique midsize offering when it debuted more than two decades ago, bringing class-above roominess and comfort to the segment, positioned between the Camry and models from Lexus, Toyota’s luxury division. The Avalon remains unique in its segment for 2017 with the choice of powertrains. We’ll deal here with the Toyota Avalon Hybrid in Limited trim.

The non-hybrid Avalon’s 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. Teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the V6 impresses with both its acceleration and its EPA-rated 24 MPG combined fuel economy (21 city/30 highway).
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If the V6 provides Avalon with the heart of a sport sedan, the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and choice of Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes enhance that position. The Sport mode selection yields quicker throttle response and boosted electric power steering feel, while also raising transmission shift points. On downshifts, it “blips” the throttle, as the driver of a stick-shift sports car would.

The Eco Mode selection prioritizes fuel efficiency by balancing driving performance, air conditioning function and fuel efficiency, and the Normal mode setting serves up the best balance of everyday performance and comfort.

With two decades of global hybrid leadership under its belt, it was only natural that Toyota would make this high-efficiency technology available in its flagship sedan. In the Toyota Avalon Hybrid, the company’s renowned Hybrid Synergy Drive system combines output from a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor. The resulting combined 200 horsepower moves the Avalon Hybrid with spirit, but in a decidedly seamless and quiet fashion.

The hybrid system is able to switch between the gas engine and electric motor, or to combine the output from both, channeling torque through a unique planetary gear-type continuously variable transmission. An EV Drive mode enables the Avalon Hybrid to drive solely on the electric motor for a short distance at speeds of 20 mph or less.

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Augmenting the conventional brake system, regenerative braking produced by the electric motor/generator in the transaxle captures the kinetic energy of the wheels, storing it in the hybrid battery. That kind of hybrid intelligence, pioneered by Toyota, permeates the vehicle. For example, because the air conditioning and power steering systems are driven electrically, both continue to operate normally when the car is operating under electric power alone or when the auto start/stop system shuts off the gas engine.

A 3.5-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) color multi-information display includes a Hybrid System Indicator that graphically illustrates power output and regeneration. With the compact nickel-metal-hydride battery located in the trunk area, the Avalon Hybrid maintains a generous 14 cu.-ft. of trunk space, only two cu.ft. less than the gasoline Avalon models.

The Avalon presents a platform for luxury with its coupe-like profile, discrete chrome trim and ample cabin room. Interior design and appointments underscore that premise. Avalon’s cabin, one of the roomiest in the segment, comes in a choice of three interior color themes including almond, light gray and black.
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A quiet and peaceful cabin is an Avalon hallmark. Serenity is assured by strategically placed sound-absorbing and sound-insulating materials, including acoustic-type glass used for the windshield and side glass and foam injected into the A, B and C-pillars, as well as the rocker panels.
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Premium amenities and design touches define Avalon’s interior, with no detail too small to ensure a high quality feel. The power windows, for example, slow down as they approach the top of the window frames, and the coin box features a damper for smooth opening and closing. The steering column tilts and telescopes. Elegant smoke-toned chrome trim surrounds the center panel, while glossy trim frames the shifter.
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The instrument panel utilizes Optitron-type gauges and the 3.5-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) color multi-information display. The leather-trimmed steering wheel features numerous controls, including Toyota’s Entune™ Audio, information display and hands-free phone function. The steering wheel also includes buttons for voice recognition and a vehicle-to-vehicle distance switch for the standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (part of the Toyota Safety Sense P system).

The Avalon’s eBin™ electronics storage tray in the center console, which is illuminated by LEDs at night. can store two devices out of sight while they recharge. Both the XLE Premium and Limited go wireless with Qi charging for compatible smartphones.
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A power rear window shade blocks the sun’s rays for the rear passengers. Shift into reverse, and the shade lowers, and then rises again with the shift into Drive. A standard backup camera improves rearward visibility for all Avalon models. In the Limited, dynamic guidelines superimposed on the display show approximate distances from objects in the camera’s field of view.
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Music may be played from nearly every digital source including CDs.

Safety fare includes: 10 standard airbags and the Toyota Star Safety System Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop brake-override Technology.

Available Blind Spot Monitor uses radar and the same technology provides a Rear Cross Traffic Alert, designed to detect low-speed cross traffic behind the vehicle when in reverse.

My test 2017 Toyota Avalon was in Limited trim, sporting a Parisian Night Pearl metallic exterior along with a Dark Blue and Black interior. The base price was set at $42,550., while the final tally rose to $43,639 after factoring in the optional carpet and Trunk mat set and the Delivery, Processing and Handling fee.

SUMMARY: The 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited makes for an ideal choice for those who appreciate the value and savings over a similar Lexus Hybrid, and while there are obviously those who will complain about the lack of a V6 powerplant. But in reality, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers more than enough power, with the advantage of greater fuel economy. The ride quality is extremely stable and the handling characteristics lean to the sporty side of the equation.
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Safety features include: Toyota’s Star Safety System, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force distribution, Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Brake Assist, ABS and Smart Stop Technology, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats.

This Toyota Avalon Hybrid reflects the incorporation of customer input, resulting in a vastly improved vehicle over the original with the enhanced efficiency of a Hybrid system, and it is a jewel of an entry level Toyota Hybrid Luxury sedan that is positioned nicely between the Toyota and Lexus marque offerings.
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Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no mileage limitation. Hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.

All 2017 Avalon Hybrid models also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

In the overall scheme of things, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is very definitely worthy of consideration when contemplating the purchase of an entry level luxury Hybrid vehicle.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

Base Price: $42,550.
Price as Tested: $43,639.

Engine Type and Size: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder, with dual VVT-i, electronic Toyota Direct Ignition and sequential fuel injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 156 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 156 @ 4,500 rpm
Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor
Electric Motor output: 105 kW/50kW (instantaneous) @ 4,500 rpm
Torque: 199 lb.-ft.
Hybrid Battery Pack: Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride
Nominal Voltage 244.8 V (204 cells, 1.2V/cells) 6.5 ampere hour capacity, 650 volts maximum system voltage
Hybrid System Net Horsepower – 200 hp.

Transmission: Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine and motor / Front –Wheel drive.

Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with Torsion bar and 25 mm stabilizer bar.
Rear – Dual Link Independent MacPherson strut with Torsion bar and 23 mm stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Electronically controlled braking system- four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, BA and integrated regenerative brake system.

Tires: Michelin Primacy MXMV4 – 215/55 R17 93V mounted on 5-“U”-shaped spokes with 5 separator spokes = 15 spokes total – Painted Silver

Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Length Overall: 195.3 inches
Width: 72.2 inches – with mirrors.
Height: 57.5 inches
Curb Weight: 3,638 lbs.
Turning Circle: 40 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 17 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 40 mpg city / 39 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.28
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.
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