Road test: 2022 Toyota Avalon hybrid comes out with 43 mpg goodness

The 2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, like the one I drove a few weeks ago, marks the end of an era. Toyota has indicated that sedans are not dead at all and plans to offer a range of them for the foreseeable future.

Toyota therefore strives to develop them over time. The Avalon’s replacement, the Toyota Crown, pivots to bold elements, thicker upholstery and looks, and a cabin that feels a bit more confined. After the harmonious Avalon, it’s a bit shocking, at least in pictures. Although so is the future, sometimes.

I sampled the outro from that era, the 2022 Toyota Avalon XSE Hybrid, in its very first (and final) Nightshade Edition, sticking at $41,725 ​​and adding black-painted alloy wheels, black mirror caps, a decklid spoiler and other special trim and badging.

No sleazy here, but a bit more contrast to the look

On the outside, the Nightshade thing sharpens the look somewhat, but the overriding impression is that, well, the Avalon blends in. There’s no charisma-wrapped tractor beam in this design, but it’s grown up and upscale.

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Even before driving, just getting into the Avalon reminded me of what’s great about this package. Plush materials and warm tones elevate this cabin above most of Toyota’s current lineup. The door cutouts are wide and the seats are generously padded and supportive. Yes, the Avalon doesn’t have the natural chair height like a crossover and you sit in the Avalon, but it’s easy to get in and the cabin has a mellow vibe and a combination of swagger and simplicity.

Toyota also says the Avalon offers high tech with a low learning curve, and I agree. The 9.0-inch touchscreen is rather small for a large car by today’s standards, but it’s very easy to navigate through the menu system, with buttons next to the screen, and Apple CarPlay started without issue once I paired my iPhone. Android Auto and Amazon Alexa are also supported. Once I turned off the nagging system beeps for each selection, I was good to go.

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

On the road, no big news to report, but all is well. The Avalon Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter inline-4 that develops 176 horsepower, as part of Toyota’s planetary hybrid system, or 215 horsepower in total. It accelerates easily and you don’t hear the engine much unless you’re climbing a steep grade, riding in Sport mode, or nearly doing the throttle floor. The steering is light, the body control is neat and the ride is controlled in a way that only luxury cars have existed until the last five years or so. Simply put, it’s easy to drive smoothly and your passengers will thank you.

43 mpg and then some

From what I’ve noted, the Avalon Hybrid tops its EPA ratings of 43 mpg city, highway, and combined.

Over 70 miles of driving in what I would consider better commuting conditions—weighing a bit more on congested highway driving—I averaged 46 mpg.

To see how good it is, I took the Avalon Hybrid on a 53-mile round-trip loop that I rode with a wide range of vehicles, gaining about 300 feet in elevation and consisting of little nearly equal parts smooth highway driving under 65 mph, back roads under 55 mph and low-speed city driving. It averaged just over 50 mpg – exactly the same number I saw on the road in the slightly smaller and less comfortable Toyota Camry Hybrid.

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

And finally, using the Avalon’s Sport mode and driving really fast on a mix of faster highway driving and hot-footed road driving, the Avalon still averaged 36 mpg over 24 miles. .

In terms of efficiency, it simply blows away any mass-market rival you might compare it to in recent years. Avalon Hybrid gets nearly double the mpg of other full-size sedans in the city, and in the range 50% better on the highway, vs. Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Charger , the Chrysler 300 and the Nissan Maxima. .

Sedans: adapt or perish?

All of those models are gone except the Charger, 300, and Maxima, and even those three have to undergo a makeover as well. Dodge and Chrysler plan to end production of these muscle-focused models after 2023 – to be replaced in part by a screaming electric muscle car – and Nissan is waiting for a while before a fully electric vehicle built in the United States will n is coming in 2025.

2023 Toyota Crown

2023 Toyota Crown

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE Nightshade

2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE Nightshade

Compared to the outgoing Avalon, the Crown is a transformation, but in a different way. The pseudo-rugged and sleek design might be hard to tear your eyes away from, for better or worse, but that’s secondary to powertrain changes. It is full hybrid and all-wheel drive, which solves a problem in the Avalon line, which was only front-wheel drive as a hybrid. Thus, the Crown’s lower 41-mpg combined EPA rating. A Crown Prime plug-in hybrid is said to be in the works, however.

It’s hard to imagine the Crown will be as perfect of a sedan and as charming and simple as the Avalon Hybrid, but maybe that’s the point.

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