2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium Hybrid

$36,470 List

$38,455 as tested

The Toyota Avalon has been flying under the radar for some time as the Toyota Camry and Lexus ES300 have overshadowed it for years.  Personally I think this is unfortunate as the Avalon is a beautiful mid-size sedan.  I was fortunate to review it while I had some long trips to take, one to Grand Rapids MI, and later to upper Wisconsin near the Canada border. 

This beautiful silver metallic Avalon was delivered to me in Chicago during a beautiful windows down and sunroof open type of week.  I really enjoy reviewing hybrids because I can really test them out by living in one of the largest cities in the U.S.  Not many hybrids hold up to their average city mpg due to slow or stop and go driving conditions.  I find that my average speed in the city is 15-25mph, which can make it hard for the batteries to charge, especially in heavy traffic. 

First look

As I did a quick walk around the exterior, I noticed that the Avalon is little bigger than the typical mid-size, really feeling closer to a full size sedan.  The target consumer throughout the Avalon’s history has been the 40+ group, however it feels much more modern than a Buick or a Lincoln.  I believe the front grill always makes the vehicle, then the body lines follow from there.  The Avalon has a very subtle line to it, nothing too aggressive or boring.  The projector HID headlight assembly wraps around the bumper, with chrome trim around the lower bumper and accent pieces along the edge.  The rear bumper rounds off like the front.  Two LED taillights are great for visibility for all driving conditions, and chrome trim in the middle of the rear trunk adds a nice touch. 

The interior is inviting and laid out nicely with marble trim along the dash and door panels.  The double stitching and soft padded dash gives it a more luxury feel, which goes well with the light grey interior.  I really like how open it feels as I sit in the soft driver’s seat.  It’s really comfortable and begs for a long ride.  The controls are all within easy reach and easy to navigate.  The center console is pretty deep and could hold a good amount of items.  Just below the dash there is another storage compartment and also charging station with two charging sockets and 1 usb/media connection along with an aux plug.  For me having two charging sockets is a big plus.  At times I find myself needing to charge something other than a phone, like a navigation and or dash cam, where the using the usb is a not an option.  The Avalon has that problem solved.

One thing I’d like to mention is that the Avalon has a lot of room.  Whenever I review a car, I’m looking for room as both my wife and I are tall, and we have two huge carseats for our boys that take up the entire backseat.  We usually lose leg room up front, so it’s an extra treat to find a vehicle that allows us to stretch our legs instead of being cramped.  We actually had room to move the seats all the way back and still have room between the front seats and the car seats.  The amount of interior space will surprise you.  Without the baby seats in the back, it’s roomy and you could cross your legs if you like.  The rear center arm rest has two cup holders.  Given all of the space in the back, I would like to have seen some controls in the rear, such as temperature or volume. 

Like most hybrids, the trunk is smaller than your traditional gas vehicles.  The hybrid batteries are stored in the back just above the rear axle and so this eliminates the ability to fold down the seats.  But honestly, when is the last time you have folded down your rear seat?  I can’t remember one time in the last 3 years.  So it’s not a deal breaker, but the batteries do take up some room that could be used for luggage, groceries or extensive shopping.  Still, the trunk was big enough for all of our activities, and we even placed a small toddler bike there with no problem.  I really like that the trunk hinges are covered.  This will eliminate the frustration of getting everything in and then realizing you can’t close the trunk because something is blocking the door from closing.  So big plus on Toyota for doing this. 

Road Trip:

The drive is always the fun part, and the Avalon did not disappoint.  Both of my 3+ hour long trips were relaxing and comfortable.  The first trip was without the family from Chicago to Grand Rapids and back.  It’s a mostly flat, smooth road, so I just programmed the cruise control and was all set.  I was able to get 43 mpg on this trip, which I was very happy with.  The trip to Wisconsin was a family trip, full of luggage and toys.  The terrain was more back roads and hills, so I didn’t get the great mpg as I did for the Michigan trip, but I still got an impressive 36 mpg.  There was barely any road noise on either trip, just a nice smooth ride.  Having that extra room made it that much more enjoyable to be able to stretch out. 

Now driving in the city, here was where I was really intrigued.  Most hybrids don’t do all that great because as I mentioned before, my average mph is about 15.  Lots of stop and go with lovely Chicago traffic at ALL TIMES.  Considering I really don’t get a steady speed to give the batteries a chance to charge, this Avalon hybrid actually did pretty good.  Yes it was a warm week so I barely used the heat or a/c, so I’m sure that helped a little.  I wasn’t able to get the advertised city mpg of 40, but I did manage to get 34mpg.  Not bad considering the city traffic conditions.  The suspension was really soft and forgiving when tackling the biggest potholes Chicago had to offer.  Though the suspension was soft, it handled pretty well.  The 17” alloy wheels on 215/55/17 tires were great for both city and highway driving. 

I thought the overall acceleration was good.  Considering it’s a hybrid it does have some pick up off a dead start.  You have that instant torque at acceleration, but if you are cruising and need a quick pick up you will feel a bit of a lag. The Avalon is equipped with a 2.5L 4cyl engine with a 16v VVT-1 hybrid pushing out 200hp.  It’s plenty of power and it is there when you need it.  Granted, it’s not something that will push you into the seat, but that’s not what this car is for.  If you want more power, then a hybrid isn’t for you.  It was pretty quiet event when transitioning from hybrid to motor.  You can slightly feel the engine come on but you’ll get used to it.  I own a hybrid and love the vehicle.  Can’t tell you how much money I have saved throughout the years. 

Overall I give it a 4 1/2 out of 5.  I liked everything about the car, both interior and exterior.  One minor thing that prevented a full 5 is how sensitive the buttons are on the dash.  Granted, I could get used it, and it’s not a deal breaker, but it was frustrating.  If you are changing the radio station, setting the climate controls, etc. the screen will recognize if you get slightly close to the button and make the change.  You need to be precise and not wander your hand around the screen or it has a mid of its own.  Despite that, I really like the big touch screen.  It’s the perfect size and easy to view while driving.  I really like the amount of room it has and for the price, you do get a lot of car for the money.  I’d like to thank Toyota USA for the opportunity to be able to spend some time with the Avalon.   2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium Hybrid

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