2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Test Drive Review: It Makes Sense

by Ian Wright

Toyota has made several quantum leaps forward with its hybrid cars since the introduction of the universally disliked first-generation Prius. The 2020 Toyota Avalon is a prime example of having your cake and eating it, too; it's an unashamedly large sedan, packed with all the bells and whistles, and will return an amazing 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined. Power comes from a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and an electric hybrid system that develops a total of 215 horsepower as it does in the mechanically identical Lexus ES Hybrid. It's most certainly not the fastest thing on the road, but it will get you to where you need to go on a whisper of gas and keep you comfortable and safe at the same time. In a world where 'sensible = safe', the Avalon Hybrid is perhaps the most sensible choice you can make.

Read in this review:

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Avalon Hybrid?

The Avalon range of cars was redesigned for 2019, so it rolls into the new decade without any significant changes, although 2020 sees the addition of a TRD trim level for the Avalon range, but, unfortunately, hybrid models won't be eligible for the stiffened sport suspension, re-painted brake calipers, and other appearance changes.

Pros and Cons

  • It's seriously economical
  • There's a big trunk in the back
  • Great list of standard features
  • Quiet cabin
  • There's no Android Auto
  • High base price
  • There's no AWD option

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Hybrid XLE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$37,000
Hybrid XSE
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$39,500
Hybrid Limited
2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$43,300

Avalon Hybrid Exterior

You won't be able to tell the hybrid model apart from the gas-powered Avalon models, and both gas and hybrid-powered cars get great exterior features such as LED reflector headlights with daytime running lights. The XLE rolls on a set of 17-inch alloy wheels, XSE models get 18-inch dark-gray alloys and Limited models get 18-inch chrome alloy wheels. The wing mirrors are heated and include blind spot warning indicators, while Limited and XSE models also get a power-tilt sunroof.

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Forward View CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid View Out Back CarBuzz
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Dimensions

The Avalon is a full-sized sedan and is only slightly longer than the Lexus ES Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. It measures in with a total length of 195.9 inches, a total width of 72.8 inches, and it sits 56.5 inches tall. The Avalon rolls on a wheelbase of 113 inches and, for such a large hybrid car, it's not as heavy as one might expect: the base XLE comes in at 3,638 pounds, and the top Limited trim weighs 3,715 lbs.

  • Length 195.9 in
  • Wheelbase 113.0 in
  • Height 56.5 in
  • Max Width 72.8 in
  • Front Width 63.0 in
  • Rear Width 63.6 in

Exterior Colors

Available in a variety of demure shades, the Avalon Hybrid comes in no-cost Harbor Gray Metallic, Opulent Amber, Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black, Brownstone, or Parisian Night Pearl. If these don't suit your fancy, you can have Wind Chill Pearl or Ruby Flare Pearl for $425. The mid-tier XSE loses out on the Opulent Amber option, however.

  • Celestial Silver Metallic
  • Harbor Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Brownstone
  • Opulent Amber
  • Parisian Night Pearl
  • Wind Chill Pearl
  • Ruby Flare Pearl

Avalon Hybrid Performance

With three models to choose from, the Avalon Hybrid lineup shares the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric hybrid setup featuring dual electric motors. The combined output for the hybrid is 215 horsepower and 312 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to the front wheels by default. Whereas the non-hybrid variants of the Avalon manage the 0-60 mph sprint in just over six seconds according to independent trials, the hybrid models take a much more leisurely approach, getting to 60 mph in just under eight seconds. While not particularly motivated to get up to speed, the Avalon hybrid manages just fine for those who want to merge onto the highway without too much fanfare - you're not going to get any goosebumps or feel a surge of adrenaline here, but you won't be late to work either.

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Gear Shifter CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Motor CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The 2020 Avalon Hybrid pairs a rather old-school, naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with dual injection and variable valve timing to an electric hybrid system with two electric motors. The gas engine produces 176 hp and 163 lb-ft, and with the electric motors thrown in, the Avalon offers a net power output of 215 hp. Power is delivered in a beautifully linear fashion, and the combination of gas and hybrid power makes the Avalon feel like it's running a large capacity V6, but it runs out of steam when attempting to overtake at highway speeds. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission which smoothly manages the delicate balance between electric and combustion power.

  • Engine
    2.5-liter Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Toyota's large sedans have always taken pride in delivering a comfortable ride that removes the driver from the world outside via a softly sprung suspension setup and a well-insulated cabin. The Avalon is no different: its independent MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension is tuned for comfort, but keeps things composed in faster corners. The XSE model offers sport-tuned shock absorbers, stabilizer bars, and springs, which doesn't detract from the generally serene driving experience but does sharpen up steering response and handling. Steering response at low speed is artificially light, but the Avalon communicates well enough through the steering column at highway speeds and feels stable and predictable.

Avalon Hybrid Gas Mileage

Great fuel economy, a reduced carbon footprint, and a comfortable and reliable driving experience will be some of the main reasons why people will buy the Avalon, and the Hybrid version of Toyota's large family sedan delivers when it comes to using as little fuel as possible. Not overly large, but still weighing well over three and a half thousand pounds, you'd think that the Avalon would struggle to return good numbers, but you'd be wrong: it will return an astonishing 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined, dropping down to 43/43/43 mpg in the XSE and Limited. The smaller and lighter Toyota Camry blows the Avalon out of the water with a figure of 51/53/52 mpg, however, and the Lexus ES Hybrid will match the Avalon mile for mile. The Avalon Hybrid is fitted with a 13.2-gallon fuel tank, which gives it a maximum range of between 567 and 581 miles.

After a week of rolling around in serene comfort on more city rides than highway, we arrived at 42 mpg with our XSE trim test vehicle.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 43/44 mpg
* 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE

Avalon Hybrid Interior

With space for five passengers, the Avalon presents itself as a sedan that can comfortably carry your family around in some modicum of practicality and style. It's spacious inside, although the rear center seat is less than ideal for an adult but will do in a pinch. There are modern conveniences like dual-zone climate control and Qi-compatible wireless charging on the upper trims, comfortable seating with heating and even ventilation as you move up through the trims, and a generally user-friendly infotainment setup. Although a far cry from premium sedans in much higher price brackets, Toyota has made some effort to ensure the Avalon looks good, adding genuine wood trim to the top-spec models and packing the cockpit with important safety tech.

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Steering Wheel Details CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Infotainment Offering CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Instrument Cluster CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

The Avalon is a big car, and one of its greatest selling points is its cavernous interior, which offers class-leading passenger space. Getting into the Avalon Hybrid in the first place is easy; it doesn't sit too low to the ground and both front and rear doors open wide. The Avalon Hybrid will seat five average-sized adults with room to spare: headroom comes in at 37.4/37.1 front/back, and shoulder room is an impressive 58.3/57.1 front/back. The all-important legroom measurement is the Avalon's crowning interior achievement; front passengers get 42.1 inches, while those in the back get a massive 40.4 inches of space. The driver can easily find a comfortable driving position thanks to an eight-way power-adjustable SofTex-trimmed seat which also includes two-way power-adjustable lumbar support. Both front seats are heated.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.1 in
  • Front Head Room 38.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.9 in

Interior Colors and Materials

SofTex, a durable leatherette, features in three color schemes for the base XLE, including Gray, Black, and Beige, paired with hydrographic trim. Moving to the XSE sees interior accents switched out for real aluminum trim, while upholstery comes in the form of a combination of leatherette and Ultrasuede in Black or Gray. Top-end Limited trims get the leather treatment as standard, in Gray, Cognac, or Beige with genuine wood accents inside the cabin.

Not only are the seats in the Avalon aesthetically inviting, they feel as good as they look. Load the car up with friends or family, and there's no need to make sure the tallest person sits in the front, and those in the back are not getting a raw deal comfort-wise.

Avalon Hybrid Trunk and Cargo Space

There might be miles of interior space, but thankfully that doesn't mean there isn't a good amount of trunk space on offer too, and the Avalon Hybrid's battery pack doesn't interfere with its ability to store stuff in the back. Total trunk space measures around 16.1 cubic feet, exactly the same as non-hybrid variants. A large trunk opening and low liftover mean getting things in and out of the trunk is a simple job, and for larger items, the rear 60/40 split-folding rear seats can fold flat for even more room.

Small items are stored in the sizable glovebox, center console storage bin, and generous storage nook in front of the shift knob. Both front and rear passengers get door pockets.

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Window Controls CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Rear Passenger Seats CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Trunk Space CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    16.1 ft³

Avalon Hybrid Infotainment and Features

Features

The Hybrid version of the Avalon is a well-specced beast, especially inside the cabin. The exterior gets LED headlights and daytime running lights, as well as heated side mirrors with blind-spot warning indicators. Step inside, and you get dual-zone automatic climate control, an integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines, and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control. Practical features such as a smart key system on front doors and trunk with push-button start, remote keyless entry, and an electric parking brake make the Avalon a joy to live with. The top-spec XSE also comes with wireless phone charging and a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink. XLE cars get SofTex-trimmed heated front seats with an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with two-way power lumbar support and an eight-way adjustable passenger seat. XSE cars get perforated and Ultrasuede heated front seats with two-way power lumbar support and an eight-way adjustable passenger seat.

Infotainment

The infotainment system on the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid features all the functions and services you'd expect from a premium modern sedan. The center-mounted nine-inch touchscreen display sits in line with the steering wheel and offers great visibility. The screen doesn't deliver the crispest images, but transitions between menus are smooth, and the system is responsive in general. Standard infotainment features include Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration, a three-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, and Wi-Fi connectivity via Verizon with a 2 GB/six-month trial. All trim levels get a ten-inch color head-up display. The standard sound system consists of eight speakers, but Limited models get an upgrade that adds navigation and a JBL Clari-Fi sound system with 14 speakers, including a subwoofer and 1,200W amplifier. This can be optioned onto the lower trim levels, too.

Avalon Hybrid Problems and Reliability

Since 2018 there have been four recalls issued for the Avalon, the first being a seatbelt pretensioner issue, followed by an airbag deployment issue in 2019, as well as smaller problems such as missing labels and fuel filler cap malfunctions. Toyota will cover the Avalon Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, an impressive eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on hybrid and electric components as well as a 12-month/150,000-mile warranty on the hybrid battery system and a six-month/60,000-mile warranty on the powertrain.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    8 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

Avalon Hybrid Safety

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is one of the safest full-size sedans on American roads. The NHTSA gave the 2019 redesigned model a full five out of five stars, and the IIHS was so impressed with the 2019 Avalon that it was given a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Standard safety features on the Avalon Hybrid include ten airbags, with seat-mounted side airbags, rear seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags making up the consignment. Driver assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Standard safety features on the Avalon Hybrid include ten airbags, with seat-mounted side airbags, rear seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags making up the consignment. Driver assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid a good car?

Toyota has been at the forefront of the hybrid vehicle market for some time, and its electrical tentacles have recently spread into their larger sedans. The Avalon Hybrid incorporates electric and gas propulsion in an elegant and unobtrusive way, and still retains all of the elements that make the Avalon so good in the first place. The Avalon Hybrid comes fresh off of a 2019 redesign and offers its owners a good spread of features, interior space, and amazing fuel economy. The combination of 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder and twin electric motors produces a fair amount of power that's enough for city driving and relaxed highway cruising, but the biggest highlight is the 43/44/44 mpg gas mileage figure. The Toyota Camry Hybrid costs significantly less, but doesn't offer the same amount of interior space or serene driving experience. The Avalon isn't the most premium, the fastest, or most well-specced, but it gets almost everything right without having to shout about it.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid?

The 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid starts at $37,000 for the base model XLE, which excludes taxes, registration, and a destination fee of $955. That's over $8,000 more than the Hybrid Toyota Camry, but $4,760 less than the Lexus ES Hybrid. The XSE will set you back $39,500, and the range-topping Limited model goes for $43,300. Fully specced, the Toyota Avalon Limited will set you back close to $50,000.

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Models

There are three models in the Avalon Hybrid range, carrying over from 2019 as the base XLE, mid-tier XSE, and top-spec Limited. All three share a powertrain setup comprised of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with two electric motors, that provides a total of 215 hp. The front wheels are powered as standard, and a CVT does duty across the lineup.

Entry-spec XLE cars feature LED headlights and taillights, color-keyed exterior mirrors, and 17-inch silver-painted alloy wheels. Inside, there's dual-zone climate control, a backup camera with dynamic gridlines, and a nine-inch infotainment screen paired to eight stock-fitted speakers. A seven-inch TFT multi-information display is also included, while leatherette upholstery is standard, with eight-way adjustability on the driver's seat, as well as heating for both front perches. Standard safety features across the range include the Toyota Safety Sense pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and full-speed radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

In the mid-range car, piano black exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, and a grille with sport mesh insert help the XSE to stand out a little. A power tilt-and-slide sunroof is added as standard, and the wheels are upgraded to 18-inch dark-gray-painted items. Wireless charging and perforated seats in Ultrasuede with lumbar adjustment make for a bit more comfort inside.

The fully-specced Limited trim features all-LED exterior lighting with laser-ablation design and dynamic turn signals. This trim also gets unique 18-inch chrome alloys and features interior upgrades that include a JBL 14-speaker setup with a subwoofer and dynamic navigation. There is also an optional upgrade to safety on this trim exclusively, adding an intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking as part of an available package.

See All 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Not too many optional extras are available to the entry-level Avalon Hybrid, although you could add a moonroof for $1,000; as this is standard on the mid-spec XSE, the only available packages for the bottom two trims are an upgrade to the premium JBL 14-speaker sound system with navigation for $1,720, or numerous standalone options, which can be specified too. These include the Four Season Floor Mat bundle for $428, TRD branded accessories ranging in price, or illuminated door sills for $379.

🚗What Toyota Avalon Hybrid Model Should I Buy?

Most interested parties will be looking at a few important things when considering the Avalon Hybrid: gas mileage, ride quality, interior and cargo space, as well as features and safety. The good news is that all three models offer a lot of each, the question is, which one represents the best value for money? The base XLE, shares all its safety and driver assistance features with the rest of the lineup, as well as it's powertrain and interior and cargo space, so it will be a good bet for anyone. The XSE and Limited add nice-to-haves. If we were writing the cheque, we'd go with the mid-range XSE, which adds features such as SofTex-trimmed heated front seats with an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with two-way power lumbar support, and an eight-way adjustable passenger seat, hydrographic interior trim, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, all for a price increase over base of only $2,500.

Check out other Toyota Avalon Styles

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Comparisons

Toyota Camry Hybrid CarBuzz
Lexus ES Hybrid Lexus
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota Avalon Hybrid215 hp43/44 mpg$37,000
Toyota Camry Hybrid 208 hp51/53 mpg$28,430
Lexus ES Hybrid 215 hp43/44 mpg$41,810

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid vs Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Camry and Avalon share a lot of components, especially under the hood; the Camry makes use of the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine, which in the Camry produces 176 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an 88 kW electric motor. Total power output is 208 hp and makes the lighter Camry feel quite nippy around town, but as with the Avalon, it can lose steam when attempting to overtake other vehicles. Gas mileage is a mind-blowing 51/53/52 mpg city/highway/combined on the base model LE CVT, but drops to 44/47/46 mpg in the range-topping XLE spec. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT transmission. Out on the road, the Camry Hybrid is surprisingly sharp to drive, without compromising its comfortable ride quality. Inside the cabin, the Camry offers enough space to fit five adults easily, and sports impressive measurements of 38.3/37.6 inches of headroom, as well as 42.1/38 inches of legroom front to back. The Camry shares a Top Safety Pick+ safety rating with the Avalon and starts at over $8,000 less. Get the Camry if you don't mind the tighter cabin.

See Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid vs Lexus ES Hybrid

Lexus occupies the Luxury segment, something that the Avalon can't exactly boast about, and it is the defining difference between these two cars. The Lexus ES Hybrid shares its powertrain with the Avalon and Camry Hybrid; you get a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine mated to an electric hybrid powertrain, which develops a combined power output of 215 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque. This is enough for zippy town driving, but the Lexus feels underpowered when at speed. Gas mileage figures come in at 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined, matching the Avalon's best figure. On the road, it's as refined as the Avalon. The ES and Avalon share most of their exterior dimensions, and inside the cabin, it's just as tight of a race, with the Lexus offering slightly more front-seat legroom and a marginally larger trunk. The interior of the Lexus offers a more refined and premium experience and includes 14-way power-adjustable front seats in Luxury spec and a hands-free liftgate in Ultra Luxury spec. Starting at $41,760, the Lexus is a Toyota Avalon in a fur coat. If you can afford one, it's nicer to live with.

See Lexus ES Hybrid Review

Toyota Avalon Hybrid Popular Comparisons

$37,000 - $43,300
Price Range (MSRP)
Toyota Avalon Hybrid