The Full-Size Toyota Avalon Could be the Perfect Family Car
The sedan is on the way O-U-T, haven’t you heard? SUVs and small crossovers are the thing now. Pay attention when you’re out and about and you’ll see it’s true. There are more and more SUV type vehicles and less and less mid-sized sedans on the road. There’s a lot to love about SUVs and crossovers and there are more choices than ever.
But maybe it isn’t all about the crossover. We drove a Toyota Avalon Hybrid for two weeks and it’s making me rethink the sedan. If you like sedans – particularly a hybrid sedan – you’ll definitely want to keep reading. If you’re not looking for a sedan, well…this might just change your mind. You never know.
Out and about with the Toyota Avalon Hybrid
We are a family of four and we did a combination of in-town and highway driving during our time with the Avalon Hybrid, which carries a price tag of about $36,000-$44,000. We took it to the water park – twice. I drove it across town to have lunch with my husband near his office. We used it for a small (for us) Costco run and I also used it as my regular “mom-mobile” to shuttle my kids to their activities. We are used to being in a minivan or a small SUV, so although the Avalon felt a little different, we never felt limited by it.
On the Road, and comfortable, in the Avalon
My two sons and I took the Avalon from San Antonio to – about 200 miles each way, all highway. My boys both sit in booster seats and they were plenty comfortable in the back. They’re nine and they were able to get in and buckled by themselves. If you’re buckling in a younger child, you will be bending down pretty low to get in that backseat, but for us, this worked out well. The trunk was surprisingly roomy. The big detractor for me with sedans versus SUVs or crossovers has always been lack of rear storage space but that wasn’t an issue at all. We traveled fairly light for this trip but the trunk could have easily handled more.
If your litmus test for car buying includes the question “But can we travel comfortably in this car,” then you’ll be able to answer yes for this one. You’ll easily be able to fit four suitcases in the back and the legroom in both the front and back will make for a comfy ride.
A Luxury Car withOUT a Luxury Price tag
The Avalon feels luxurious. It’s sleek and beautiful. It made me want to fix my hair, put on a dress and tell my husband to take me out to dinner someplace fancy. We didn’t do that, but I definitely enjoyed that upscale vibe this car gives off.
That vibe comes from its fancier sibling, Lexus. There is definitely a family resemblance, from the look and feel of the leather to many of the luxe features included, from the base model to the fully loaded LTD model we test drove (keep reading to see which features spoiled me the most).
Related: Is an all wheel drive hybrid car your perfect jam? We spent some time with the Prius AWD –perfect for the city AND the country.
The paint color is called Opulent Amber (and if that doesn’t sound luxurious, I don’t know what does.) It looks like it’s black but upon closer inspection, you can see the red undertones. Toyota always does such a fabulous job with their paint colors. The appearance of a car totally counts for me and I love that this color is beyond ordinary black or brown. I like my car to stand out but not obnoxiously so. The buttery soft leather interior was comfortable and stylish. I really liked everything about the appearance of this car.
The Gas Mileage Seals the Deal
Because this is a parallel hybrid, the stellar gas mileage was what impressed me the most. A parallel hybrid car pairs a gasoline-powered engine with an electric motor. Hybrid cars have an additional battery pack that is charged by energy from deceleration and the gas-powered engine. The gas engine and the electric motor work together to make the car drive. The battery essentially charges itself.
Obviously, this design impacts the amount of gas you use. I drove from our house outside of San Antonio to Six Flags and back, from our house to Fort Sam Houston and back, to Waco and around Waco for three days on the same tank of gas. This adds up to more than 300 miles and that was huge for me. Not only do you save money on gas, but you also won’t need to stop and fill up nearly as often.
Who’s this Car for?:
- Families with 2 or fewer kids that don’t want a crossover or large SUV
- Families who want that second car for a commute or kid-free outings
- Singles or kid-free couples
- Young professionals who need reliable transportation that’s comfortable enough for coworkers/clients
- Anyone who wants to explore the gas savings a hybrid sedan provides
How much does the Toyota Avalon Cost:
- The base price of the XLE is $36,650;
- The XSE model adds several additional trim and multimedia options and starts at $39,150;
- The LTD model (shown) adds super chrome alloy wheels, luxurious leather seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, genuine wood on the interior trim and more and starts at $42,950
- With delivery and an add-on safety option package will set you back $44,370. This looks and performs like a full-size luxury sedan and the gas savings over time make this car very worth that price.
What we loved about the Toyota Avalon Hybrid
We loved the comfort and get-up-and-go. We did a lot of highway driving – to include taking it on a little road trip about two-and-a-half-hours (each way) from home. The comfortable seats (and the fact that the car had cooling seats in July in Texas) was pretty boss. In a nutshell, we loved the space, appearance, and flexibility. We didn’t feel cramped, we had plenty of room for all our belongings and we were just comfortable all the way around.
What you need to know:
- Gas mileage: According to Toyota, the Avalon Hybrid gets an average of 43 MPG in both the city and the highway. We did a good mix of interstate and in-town driving and found we consistently got 40-41 MPG (the display lets you know how you’re doing on mileage.)
- Safety features: The Avalon boasts an impressive safety package for all models. Safety features include the Star Safety System, 10 airbags, Whiplash-Injury-Lessening (WIL) seats up front, child protector rear locks, a three-year subscription for Toyota Safety Connect (a service similar to OnStar) and more. You can also purchase an additional safety option package that includes a bird’s-eye view camera with perimeter Scan and intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking.
- Comfort: Super comfortable. My kids didn’t complain about being cramped in the back seat. My husband and I were both comfortable in both the driver and front passenger seats. I didn’t feel cramped and I’m 5’10. One of the reasons to buy a top-of-the-line sedan is because the extra comfort is worth the extra money. I found that to be very true in this case.