It's not the Prius or the best-selling RAV4 Hybrid that does best what Toyota does best. It is the Toyota Avalon full-size sedan, prized by drivers who prefer life in the slow lane, that tops The Car Connection's rating at 7.0 out of 10 to make it the Best Hybrid To Buy 2020.
Redesigned for 2019, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid gets 43 mpg city, 44 highway, 44 combined in base XLE trim. In sportier XSE and swanker Limited trim, it gets 43 mpg combined, which is 18 mpg more than the Avalon with the conventional gas engine. That is remarkable around town and on the highway, where this soft cruiser is at its best.
The Avalon Hybrid doesn't stand out much on the outside, though it also doesn't suffer the garish additions of the more performance-oriented (read: wrong) editions of the Avalon gas models. Standard LED headlights help night vision and safety ratings, and also give it a visual squint that could be taken as sporty. In the rear, available LED sequential taillights extend from the Avalon badge on the trunk and wrap around the side to give it a distinct nighttime presence. On the inside, a family of five can find some '80s road-tripping comfort while still being connected to the modern world, swaddled in swatches of leather and wood trim in the top Limited trim, which could be mistaken for Lexus.
Driven only by the front wheels, the Avalon Hybrid uses a 215-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder with two motors and a continuously variable transmission. The battery pack has been moved to beneath the rear seat instead of the trunk, so the 16 cubic feet of cargo space isn't sacrificed. In XSE trim, the Sport mode function lets drivers pretend like they're shifting through six gears. MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear suspension help soak up road imperfections, as do the standard 17-inch wheels. Handling is soft, steering is light, and the large sedan is a soporific highway cruiser of the highest order. We mean that as a compliment.
Standard equipment for those long rides include heated front seats, a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a USB port for each passenger. The Avalon also comes loaded with active safety technology that luxury automakers would charge a pretty penny for, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, high-beam assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts. These features, and safety-oriented construction, help the Avalon earn a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS and a five-star rating from the NHTSA.
Safe, efficient, comfortable on long stretches of road, the Toyota Avalon is easily the Best Hybrid To Buy 2020.