Wednesday, July 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Toyota Avalon adds fuel-thrifty hybrid

Recently revamped with a stylish body and new features, the five-door Avalon has an impressive, fuel-sipping, gasoline-electric hybrid model.  AP photo

Recently revamped with a stylish body and new features, the five-door Avalon has an impressive, fuel-sipping, gasoline-electric hybrid model. AP photo

By
From page A12 | September 06, 2013 |

The Associated Press

Move over, Toyota Camry. It’s time for Toyota’s other sizable sedan, the Avalon, to get some well-deserved attention.

Recently revamped with a stylish body and new features, the five-door Avalon now also has an impressive, fuel-sipping, gasoline-electric hybrid model.

Not only does the Avalon Hybrid provide comfortable seating for five, with a roomy back seat, the new hybrid is rated by the federal government at 40 miles per gallon in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway — the best of any Avalon ever.

These numbers are not unattainable. In regular, not-trying-to-squeeze-every-drop-of-gasoline driving, the test 2013 Avalon Hybrid registered no lower than 36.2 mpg and reached 37.1 mpg in combined city/highway travel.

Also noteworthy: The 2013 Avalon overall is listed as a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, which says predicted reliability should be above average.

The Avalon Hybrid’s starting retail price isn’t as high as many consumers might assume, given all the standard equipment.

Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $36,365 for the base, 2013 Avalon Hybrid, which is $3,360 more than the base, non-hybrid, 2013 Avalon.

But note that the base Avalon Hybrid has XLE Premium trim that includes standard upscale appointments such as power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, heated and power-adjustable front seats, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-speaker audio system, 6.1-inch display screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone controls, push-button start, keyless remote entry and leather-wrapped steering wheel plus 10 airbags.

Then, there’s the fuel mileage comparison. The non-hybrid, 2013 Avalon, which has a 268-horsepower V-6, is rated by the federal government at 21/31 mpg, which is 19 mpg less in city driving and 8 miles less per gallon in highway driving than the Avalon Hybrid.

Still, the Avalon Hybrid is pricier than some other mid-size hybrid sedans that don’t have as much standard equipment and aren’t quite as large in size.

As an example, the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid S has a starting MSRP, including destination charge of $26,995. This model does not have a moonroof or leather-covered seats or eight audio speakers, among other things.

But the 2014 Fusion Hybrid does have a higher federal government fuel economy rating than the Avalon Hybrid does: 47 mpg in both city and highway travel.

Meantime, the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid, which is shorter in length and height than the Avalon Hybrid, has a starting retail price of $26,700 and federal government fuel economy rating of 36/40 mpg.

U.S. Avalon sales this year through July were on the upswing by 134 percent, totaling 43,040. Camry sales so far this year were holding steady.

The test Avalon Hybrid, a mid-range XLE Touring model, looked stylish with new, expressive grille and the kind of expressive body lines on the sides that could have come from a Hyundai Sonata.

Overall, the car was attractively proportioned, too, though the sizable rear parcel shelf would sometimes catch and reflect the sun’s rays and detract from rearward visibility via the inside rearview mirror.

A sunshine-splashed dashboard also sometimes made it difficult to see items shown on the sizable display screen atop the middle of the car’s dashboard.

Still, the interior was a nice surprise, with controls and gauges well arranged and an expansive atmosphere in both front and back seats and a lot of seat travel available for the front seats.

Stretching 16.2 feet in length, the Avalon Hybrid provides 42.1 inches of legroom in the front seat and 39.2 inches for back-seat passengers. This is more than that inside a Camry Hybrid, which is slightly smaller than an Avalon and uses much the same hybrid system.

But room-wise, the Avalon Hybrid’s trunk, which provides a commendable 14 cubic feet of cargo space, is noteworthy.

Yes, this is less than the non-hybrid Avalon’s 16-cubic-foot trunk.

But hybrids have smaller trunks because the hybrid’s battery pack for storing electric power onboard typically is under and/or behind the back seats.

So, the Avalon Hybrid’s flat-floored, 14 cubic feet is way more than the 10.8 cubic feet in Optima Hybrid’s trunk and the 12 cubic feet in the Fusion Hybrid.

Besides space and comfort, Toyota engineers made sure to make the Avalon’s ride firmer than before to provide a more dynamic driving experience, even in the hybrid.

The test car didn’t handle like a wallowy, floating, big sedan. Rather, the driver felt a palpable connection to the road and body motions were more controlled than ever. The flipside of this more-taut ride is passengers can notice sounds and some vibrations from road bumps, including recessed manhole covers. And steering still felt a bit numb.

Like its non-hybrid version, the Avalon Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline, and the travel range between fillups can be impressive. The tester, for example, had a 600-mile-plus range, which softened the $64 bill at the gasoline station.

It’s true that the hybrid’s 156-horsepower, 2.5-liter, double overhead cam four cylinder can sound buzzy and stressed during hard accelerations. Torque peaks at 156 foot-pounds at 4,500 rpm, and with the two electric motors added in, total horsepower is 200.

But nearly all the time during the test drive, driver and passengers couldn’t tell by sound or feel when power was all from the engine or all electric or a mix.

Power came on smoothly and seamlessly and was managed by a continuously variable transmission that the driver operated like an automatic.

What passengers did notice was how quiet the Avalon Hybrid could be in city traffic as silent electric power propelled it forward for short spurts.

The battery pack is the older-generation nickel-metal hydride, not the new lithium ion that’s in the Fusion.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Family enterprise builds a home for music

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mosquito districts sprays tonight

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Poll dancing, direct from Las Vegas

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Center for Families hosts Summer Carnival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vintage car show planned this fall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis native named a Schweitzer Fellow

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Share your love of nature with young wetlands visitors

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Movies in the Park return this fall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Class of ’94 set 20th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Tips, techniques will give you a green thumb

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Grief support focuses on journaling

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    How the Bockler wasp got its name

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Kiwanis golf tournament supports local agencies

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Drop off school supplies at Edward Jones offices

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Yolo County CASA seeks volunteer child advocates

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    UC Davis alumnus hopes to bring amateur radio to Nepal

    By Rachel Uda | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Recycle old paint cans for free

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Not sure which direction to go

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Violence as entertainment

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Shocked at vampires story

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Paul Krugman: Corporate artful dodgers

    By Paul Krugman | From Page: A6

    Nicholas Kristof: The world’s coolest places

    By Nicholas Kristof | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Gravel mining affects us all

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    A’s rally to win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Morse homers but Giants lose 6th straight

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Nightmare on Ballpark Drive for River Cats

    By Will Bellamy | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Fiona Buck pushes the limits in para-athletics

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Smither releases new CD Saturday at The Palms

    By Kate Laddish | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    RootStock kicks off ‘Día de Albariño’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Folk musicians will jam in the Arboretum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    YoloArts to host a state of change exhibit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    UCD professor Andy Jones named Davis’ new poet laureate

    By Rachel Uda | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Molten art on display at Davis Arts Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Brady earns top honors at State Fair

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Calvin D. Rourke

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6