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New Car Sedan Review: 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

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2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid on Everyman Driver with Dave Erickson
Photo Credit: Everyman Driver, Dave Erickson

For 2014, all Avalon models now come with a backup camera as standard equipment. The system in Limited grade models also features dynamic guidelines superimposed on the display to indicate approximate distances from objects in the camera’s field of view. All Avalon models also gain a three-blink turn signal mode for more convenient lane change maneuvers. The Limited grade models add ambient lighting to the dash.

The 2014 Avalon is available as a V6 gas model in XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring and Limited model grades; the Avalon Hybrid, rated at 40-mpg combined by the EPA, comes in the top three grades.

Avalon Hybrid is equipped with a modified version of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system that also propels the Camry Hybrid. The Avalon Hybrid weighs just 3,585 lbs., which is just 124 lbs. heavier than the V6 gasoline model. The admirably low vehicle weight, clean aerodynamics and an efficient hybrid drivetrain combine to give this roomy sedan an EPA estimate of 40-mpg combined fuel economy rating (40 city/39 highway). With its 17-gallon fuel tank, the Avalon Hybrid can offer over 600 miles of highway driving range.

2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid EngineAn EV Drive mode allows the driver to operate the Avalon Hybrid under certain conditions solely on the electric motor for a short distance at speeds under about 20 mph. A driver-selectable ECO mode optimizes throttle response and air conditioning output to prioritize fuel economy.

Through its unique transaxle, which uses a planetary-type continuously variable transmission, the Hybrid Synergy Drive system combines output from the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor. The system produces a combined 200 horsepower and varies power between the gas engine and electric motor, or combines both, as needed. The Avalon Hybrid can accelerate from zero-to-60 in 8.0 seconds, with a substantial feeling of torque at all speeds.

The Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system on the intake camshaft enhances torque. An electric water pump, a roller-rocker type valvetrain and a variable-output oil pump help to reduce internal friction, boosting fuel economy. A water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system helps to ensure the lowest possible emissions at all vehicle speeds and contributes to fuel efficiency.

2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid DashBecause there are situations in which the gas engine in the Avalon Hybrid shuts off, air conditioning and power steering systems are driven electrically. The proven nickel-metal-hydride battery, located in the trunk area, is air-cooled. Its compact size, along with locating the DC/DC converter within the engine compartment, results in a trunk that is just 2.1-cubic feet smaller than in the Avalon gas model.

Beyond the force generated by the Avalon’s conventional brake system, the hybrid also adds the regenerative braking force produced by the electric motor/generator in the transaxle. Regenerative braking captures the kinetic energy of the still-spinning wheels, storing it in the hybrid battery.

VIDEO: Detailed Drive and Review of the 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid with Everyman Driver, Dave Erickson

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