- Well-controlled ride
- Refined, responsive powertrains
- 40 mpg (Hybrid)
- Spacious interior
- Advanced safety tech
- Luxury-car price, without the lux badge
- Spongy brake-pedal feel
- Generic taillight look
The 2017 Toyota Avalon gives the full-size sedan a good name, with its exceptional space and style.
The Toyota Avalon doesn't beg you to own it or drive it. It puts comfort to the fore: it's comfortable like a pillow-top bed, and no longer rides or handles like one.
This year, it's offered as an Avalon XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Limited, or as an Avalon Touring. Avalon Hybrid sedans come in XLE and sporty Touring trims.
The big news for 2017, though, is that Toyota has made a suite of safety gear standard, including forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking; adaptive cruise control; automatic high beams; and lane-departure warnings.
The main rivals for the Avalon include the Chevy Impala, Hyundai Azera, Kia Cadenza, and the Ford Taurus.
We give the Avalon a very good score of 7.7 out of 10, with big points for its safety and comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Toyota Avalon styling and performance
Toyota redesigned the Avalon in 2013, and gave it more visual distance from the Camry that shares its running gear. It now has real presence, thanks to a swoopy roofline, flared-out rear fenders, and laid-back rear glass. Inside, the Avalon's contemporary layout and look still wears flush, touch-based dash switches for a clean, high-end-audio look. Cabin materials are superb, and fit and finish is up to Lexus standards.
Avalons come in gas- or gas-electric form. A strong and smooth 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is the stock powerplant, but the Avalon Hybrid drivetrain gets our attention. With 200 hp from its combination of motors, batteries, and an inline-4, the Avalon Hybrid is reasonably quick and astonishingly efficient, at 40 mpg on the EPA combined scale.
This latest Avalon feels more composed and refined, too. We wouldn't call it sporty, but it's struck us as supremely capable and controllable in a way that older models weren't. It has completely abandoned the floaty ride and senseless steering of the past for a direct but not firm road feel.
The EPA hasn't compiled numbers for 2017 yet, but it put the V-6 Avalon at 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 24 combined last year. The Avalon Hybrid's EPA ratings of 40/39/40 mpg make it one of the most fuel-efficient large sedans in any driving situation, and definitely the most efficient for city driving and stop-and-go traffic.
Avalon comfort, safety, and features
The Avalon is roomy, modern and thoughtfully composed. The front seats could use a little more lateral support, but the back seats are among the best you can find in large sedans. The Avalon gets a 16-cubic-foot trunk, and with a flat floor and wide opening, you can fit a lot of grocery bags. Hybrid models have a slightly smaller 14-cubic-foot trunk, but the lost space is a small sacrifice for the efficiency gains.
The Avalon offers a strong list of safety features, including separate rear side-thorax airbags and front knee bags, and crash-test ratings have been almost perfect across the board. All models come with a rearview camera, while blind-spot monitors are standard on Touring models.
The Avalon is plushly outfitted, with power features, leather, and a 7-inch touchscreen that governs the audio system. Avalon XLE and XLE Plus models get woodgrain trim, while XLE Premium models get navigation and Qi wireless smartphone charging.
Touring models get gray 18-inch wheels, a unique front end, and LED headlights. Top Limited models pile on the premium tack, with perforated leather upholstery, heated-and-ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone automatic climate control, a rear sunshade, 785-watt JBL audio, HID headlamps, and LED daytime running lamps.