“We always look for opportunities to extend our tried and true Hybrid technology across our full line-up,” says Gregg Benkendorfer, product marketing manager for Camry and Avalon. “When the second-generation (2012) Camry Hybrid with its 43 mpg was so well received, it seemed ideal to be able to let past Camry owners move up to our flagship in the premium mid-size category without leaving their Hybrid (engine) behind.”
The 2012 Avalon ($33,195-$36,435) offers a good point of comparison for the frugal new iteration; its 268-hp V-6 delivered 19/28 mpg city/highway, not bad considering the stretched-Camry offers limo-like seating for rear passengers. For 2013, an essentially similar V-6 has boosted its EPA ratings to 21/31 mpg, and the Hybrid version pushes that to 40/39 mpg city/highway.
For the techies in the Avalon set, Toyota’s gas-electric powerplant features a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder, a 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a pair of electric motor/generators within the transaxle, all combining for 200 hp in three driving modes, EV, ECO and Sport. The EV mode allows the car, under the right conditions, to cruise on electric power only for up to one mile at up to 25 mph, useful for a short cruise to a neighbor’s house or while circling a parking garage for a spot.
There’s plenty of tech inside, as all age groups become more comfortable with the digital age. “There will absolutely be a level-up in technology for this next generation Avalon,” says Benkendorfer, noting features such as smartphone integration, Bluetooth and Toyota’s available Entune multimedia system.
Styling cues on the new Avalon are noticeably improved from the 2012 model, starting with the car’s front end. Whereas before the Avalon featured a multi-slat grille that perhaps looked better on the company’s massive Land Cruiser, the new model’s grille offers a singular chrome slash set between two cat-like headlights, and beneath that a slitted mouth of an opening. The overall effect is sleek and modern, recalling bits of Maserati and Mercedes-Benz here and there. BMW comes to mind when taking in Avalon’s sheetmetal, whose artful and deliberate creases move the model away from the slab-sided past.
There’s no mistaking Toyota’s tactic here. As boomers age, they’ll want larger, more comfortable machines (0 to 60 dashes just don’t matter that much) that also whistle to the tune of today’s gas-crunched times. Cue the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. It's everything that's great about the Camry, even more so.