2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Expert Review

4.2 Overall Score
Performance 4.0 Comfort 4.3 Styling 4.1 Value 4.3

Editor's Overview

Fresh from its major makeover last year, the 2014 Toyota Avalon continues to set new standards for full-size sedans and Toyota design alike. Better-looking than any Avalon to date, this 4th-generation version should appeal to buyers of all ages and also includes a frugal hybrid model capable of attaining 40 mpg.

You'll Like The 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid If...

If you’re looking for a big sedan that delivers economy-car fuel economy, the full-size 2014 Toyota Avalon is it. Class-leading resale value and reliability are also pluses in the Avalon’s favor, as are its sleek good looks.

You May Not Like The 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid If...

The Avalon is plush, but not sporty. If you consider yourself an enthusiast driver, the Ford Taurus SHO, Nissan Maxima or Hyundai Genesis delivers a more spirited driving experience. Those seeking all-wheel drive will have to look to the Taurus or Chrysler 300.

What's New

A rearview camera is added to the base XLE, prompting a slight price increase for the trim. The XLE Premium now offers the display audio unit with navigation and Entune Apps suite, while a blind-spot monitoring system is made optional on the Touring trim.


Interior Features

The 2014 Toyota Avalon offers perhaps the finest cabin in its class, with first-rate materials, user-friendly controls and impressive fit and finish. The general design is the same regardless of trim level, which only sweetens the Avalon’s attractive $31K starting price. Toyota’s latest batch of infotainment options such as advanced voice recognition, mobile application integration and hard-drive-based navigation should appeal to tech-savvy buyers. And, unlike the Ford Taurus, the Avalon’s capacitive touch switches for the audio and climate-control functions are responsive and straightforward. In terms of comfort the rear-seat passengers are treated to an abundance of legroom and headroom

Exterior Features

The Avalon’s masculine stance and sculpted bodywork were conceived by Toyota’s Southern California-based Calty Design studio. The forward-raked C-pillar and sweeping roofline impart an almost coupe-like silhouette. Although it seems counterintuitive, this aggressive design actually improves rear-seat headroom. The headlights incorporate a pair of stylish square-shaped projector lenses, which Toyota calls Quadrabeams. This contemporary look is finished off with a set of 17-inch or optional 18-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights and dual chrome-tipped exhaust outlets.

Driving Impressions

The 2014 Toyota Avalon delivers a thrill ride, but not in the traditional sense. While not intended to deliver a BMW-like ride, the Avalon nevertheless is a competent sedan that will impress with its smooth ride and sedate driving experience. Compared to the last-generation car, the newest Avalon benefits greatly from better feel in the steering and brakes. There’s also an available driver-selectable Sport mode that adds more weight to the power steering response and improves upshift times. Toyota may have gone a bit overboard adding features like paddle shifters and downshift rev-matching, but it’s nice to have them onboard just the same. The V6 is a true star, but it’s the hybrid powertrain that won our hearts, delivering excellent performance while returning a 40-mpg combined city/highway figure. On the road, the Avalon shuts out almost all wind and tire noise to create a cocoon-like environment.

Pricing Notes

In an effort to bolster its value quotient, the 2014 Toyota Avalon carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $32,000, just $350 more than the 2013 model. The Avalon Hybrid starts right around $36,000, with range-topping Limited models opening closer to $41,000. The Chrysler 300 shares a similar starting price with the Avalon, while the Nissan Maxima, Hyundai Azera and Buick LaCrosse begin in the $33,000 range. Although it offers a shorter list of standard equipment, the Ford Taurus undercuts the Avalon’s base price by roughly $3,000. To ensure you get the best deal on your 2014 Toyota Avalon, take a look at KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page. When it comes to the other side of the pricing equation, the 2014 Avalon is expected to retain one of the highest resale values in the segment.

Notable Equipment

The 2014 Toyota Avalon is offered in XLE, Premium, Touring and Limited trim levels with hybrid variants available in the last three. In base form, the Avalon includes heated outside mirrors, rearview camera, leather-trimmed seats, smart-key access and push-button start, dual-zone climate control and a 6.1-inch audio touch screen and eight speakers. Premium models add a moonroof, while Touring trims include creature comforts like navigation, driver’s-seat memory control and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Occupant protection consists of 10 airbags, a comprehensive suite of electronic stability aids, and front seats designed to help reduce the severity of whiplash-related injuries

Notable Options

Since the majority of feature content is tied to trim level, the 2014 Toyota Avalon offers only a few option packages. Available exclusively on Limited models, the Tech Package includes a pre-collision system that prepares the car for impact when it senses a crash about to happen, automatic high beams, and an adaptive cruise-control system that maintains a pre-selected distance behind the vehicle ahead. The Premium trims can upgrade to the navigation radio with Entune Apps suite.

Favorite Features

CAPACITIVE TOUCH SWITCHES

Using the same principle that controls your smartphone, the Avalon’s capacitive touch switches require only the slightest touch to perform their function. Reacting to minor fluctuations in electrical current when contacted by your finger, these switches are more efficient and require less moving parts than traditional buttons and knobs.



REAR CROSS TRAFFIC WARNING

Parking lots filled with big SUVs often block a driver from noticing cross traffic at the rear of the vehicle. Toyota’s Rear Cross Traffic Warning system eliminates this problem by alerting the driver with a warning signal and indicator light when a vehicle is approaching from the side.

Under the Hood

The new Avalon gets its motivation from the tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 or new Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder hybrid powerplant – the same system used in the latest Camry Hybrid. The conventional engine churns out a healthy 268 horsepower through a 6-speed automatic gearbox, while the hybrid system sends its 200 horsepower to the front wheels via a gearless continuously variable transmission. To the dismay of those living in the Snow Belt, the Toyota Avalon does not offer all-wheel drive.


3.5-liter V6

268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm

248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg


2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid

200 net hybrid system horsepower

Engine: 156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm

Battery: 199 lb-ft of torque @ 0-1,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 40/39 mpg

Editors' Notes

The full-size sedan has been on a slump as of late, replaced by bigger crossover SUVs that offer more interior room and versatility. But, there is still a large set of the population who likes the low stance, comfortable ride and easy-to-park characteristic of a sedan. For them, Toyota builds the 2014 Avalon. Its striking exterior is further bolstered by a premium interior befitting the finest Lexus sedan. Taut driving dynamics, a smooth ride and a silent cabin are also mainstays of Toyota’s flagship, as are the cutting-edge yet user-friendly in-vehicle audio and navigation systems. Alongside the potent V6 is a hybrid model delivering a slightly less robust 0-60 time but much better fuel economy

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