2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Supportive front seats
  • Attractive styling
  • Quiet ride
  • Ride quality
  • Cargo room

The Bad

  • No folding rear seat
  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • Many safety systems available only on the top trim
  • Interior materials and design

Notable Features of the 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

  • Refreshed for 2016
  • Sedan seats five
  • New optional safety systems
  • EV mode
  • Newly standard 7-inch touch-screen multimedia system

2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Road Test

Jennifer Geiger

The verdict: The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a composed, comfortable highway cruiser with loads of trunk space and impressive fuel economy, but you'll have to be willing to pay Lexus money for a Toyota.

Against the competition: The Avalon Hybrid delivers a winning blend of efficiency, comfort and value, but its control layout frustrates, and competitors offer more upscale accommodations.

The Avalon is the only hybrid in the class of large sedans from modest brands, but its price puts it in line with luxury sedan hybrids such as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Lexus ES 300h from Toyota's luxury arm. The Buick LaCrosse also offers a mild-hybrid version with its eAssist model. Compare all four models here.

For 2016, the Avalon and Avalon Hybrid got a mild styling update, more standard features and new safety options for the top trim. The Hybrid model comes in XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited trims, and the Entune multimedia system with a 7-inch screen is newly standard across the lineup. The midlevel XLE Premium adds new standard features such as navigation and Qi wireless charging for compatible smartphones. Compare 2015 and 2016 models here.

Exterior & Styling
Toyota's largest sedan was redesigned for 2013, taking the Avalon's styling from frumpy to fashionable. An update for 2016 adds minor styling tweaks: new turn signals, redesigned LED taillights and a wider and lower front grille add polish and help keep it one of the most stylish-looking sedans in ...

The verdict: The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a composed, comfortable highway cruiser with loads of trunk space and impressive fuel economy, but you'll have to be willing to pay Lexus money for a Toyota.

Against the competition: The Avalon Hybrid delivers a winning blend of efficiency, comfort and value, but its control layout frustrates, and competitors offer more upscale accommodations.

The Avalon is the only hybrid in the class of large sedans from modest brands, but its price puts it in line with luxury sedan hybrids such as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Lexus ES 300h from Toyota's luxury arm. The Buick LaCrosse also offers a mild-hybrid version with its eAssist model. Compare all four models here.

For 2016, the Avalon and Avalon Hybrid got a mild styling update, more standard features and new safety options for the top trim. The Hybrid model comes in XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited trims, and the Entune multimedia system with a 7-inch screen is newly standard across the lineup. The midlevel XLE Premium adds new standard features such as navigation and Qi wireless charging for compatible smartphones. Compare 2015 and 2016 models here.

Exterior & Styling
Toyota's largest sedan was redesigned for 2013, taking the Avalon's styling from frumpy to fashionable. An update for 2016 adds minor styling tweaks: new turn signals, redesigned LED taillights and a wider and lower front grille add polish and help keep it one of the most stylish-looking sedans in the class.

On the road, drivers probably won't be able to spot the differences between the hybrid and regular Avalon — only a subtle blue ring around the grille emblem and small badges on the rear and sides call it out.

How It Drives
Low-end power is surprisingly robust for great pickup from a stop. The hybrid's sole drivetrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder combined with an electric motor for a total of 200 horsepower. The pair gets the job done quickly and smoothly. The hybrid system's continuously variable, shift-free operation is unobtrusive, feeling natural and quiet.

An Eco mode benefits fuel economy and dulls accelerator responsiveness, but not annoyingly so. Sport mode peps it up, but again, the change is slight and not needed given the Avalon's inherent peppiness. EV mode allows the sedan to travel on electric-only power at speeds up to around 20 mph. The Avalon Hybrid seamlessly transitions between gas and electric power and, unlike in Toyota's Prius c, EV mode is easy to sustain; gentle accelerator application is what it takes to keep the car driving on electric-only power for short distances. This works best in around-town, stop-and-go driving.

The Avalon Hybrid's fuel economy is class-competitive, with a 40/39/40 mpg city/highway/combined EPA rating — the same as the Avalon's Lexus twin, the ES 300h, and similar to the MKZ Hybrid's 41/39/40 rating. Buick's mild-hybrid LaCrosse gets only 25/36/29 mpg. The non-hybrid Avalon gets power from a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, and its fuel economy is much lower, at 21/31/24 mpg. Compare the hybrid model with the non-hybrid version here.

I took several long trips, driving a total of 627 mostly highway miles, and averaged a disappointing 34.2 mpg. However, the car was loaded with five people and a full trunk, and the weather was frigid.

The Avalon flies its hybrid flag most obviously and disappointingly while braking. As with many other hybrids' regenerative braking systems, the pedal is overly firm and the brakes have a delayed reaction time. The overall feel is disquieting and takes a lot of acclimation.

On the highway, the Avalon hybrid's steering feel also needs work; it's too light at higher speeds, requiring constant adjustment. Around town, it's comfortably weighted.

Interior
There's plenty of elbow and knee padding in the cabin, but the Avalon's interior design is busy, with too many shapes, patterns and materials competing for attention. Classy wood panels and contrast stitching complement the plush standard leather seats and surfaces, but the showy, vinyl-looking material and bright chrome trim that surround the multimedia screen directly compete with the other materials' understated style. The overall look lacks continuity.

Two adults fit easily and comfortably on the wide, bolstered backseat. There's seating for three passengers back there, but the middle spot is narrow. By the numbers, the Avalon Hybrid offers 39.2 inches of rear legroom, a smidge less than the LaCrosse and ES 300h but more than the MKZ Hybrid. I couldn't fit my trio of child-safety seats (a high-back Graco booster and two Evenflo convertible seats) in the backseat, however. Instead, I installed my kindergartener's narrower Bubble Bum inflatable booster between my two rear-facing convertibles and all three fit.

Rear passengers also can be treated to a bevy of creature comforts, such as heated leather seats, climate controls and a power rear window sunshade, all of which are standard on the top, Limited trim.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Like the cabin's design and materials, the controls are oddly mismatched and a lot to take in, both visually and tangibly. They're a mishmash of physical buttons, touch-sensitive panels and a standard 7-inch touch-screen. Once you figure out what type of input controls which function, using the multimedia system for audio and navigation is easy thanks to a no-nonsense menu structure and responsive touch-screen. Changing the audio presets and inputting navigation destinations, for example, took seconds.

The learning curve for the climate controls below the multimedia system is steeper, though, especially with gloves on. The touch-sensitive panels that control fan speed and temperature settings were not very responsive, often requiring two or three touches, and they didn't work at all with gloves on.

Below the climate controls is a small storage space covered by a tray that doubles as a wireless charging pad, which is standard on the midlevel and top trims. To activate it, press the wireless charger switch and place your compatible mobile device on the tray. An amber light means charging is in progress; a green one means charging is complete.

It's a neat feature, but only a small percentage of smartphones have wireless charging capability. Mine doesn't, so I was unable to test the system. One editor bought a special case and adaptor card that enables wireless charging for his iPhone6 and tested it in a Lexus NX; read that story here.

Cargo & Storage
The center console storage box is deep and has a flexible divider to organize the space. Under the wireless charger tray is a wide, hidden storage cubby with several different types of auxiliary, USB and 12-volt outlets.

The Avalon Hybrid's trunk is enormous, implausibly swallowing my family of five's Christmas road trip luggage, which included two large portable cribs. It has 14.0 cubic feet of space, besting the LaCrosse eAssist (10.8), Lexus ES 300h (12.1) and MKZ Hybrid (11.1).

The non-hybrid version offers much more, however, with an extra 2 cubic feet of trunk room; the placement of the Hybrid's battery is the culprit. That battery also prevents the rear seat from folding, making the Avalon less flexible in terms of carrying longer cargo. The backseats in the Lexus ES 300h and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid don't fold, either, but the Buick LaCrosse eAssist's does.

Safety
The 2016 Toyota Avalon earned top scores in all the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's tests, earning the agency's highest award, as did the Lexus ES 300h. The Lincoln MKZ didn't do well in IIHS' small-overlap front test, for which the Buick LaCrosse has not been tested. The Avalon Hybrid has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A backup camera is standard on all Avalon Hybrids. For 2016, new, optional safety features are also available, but only on the top, Limited trim. The Toyota Safety Sense-P system includes several driver-assist technologies: automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking that "sees" both cars and pedestrians and lane departure warning and prevention. Click here for a full list of safety features.

Value in Its Class
The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid starts at $37,485 including destination — a lot, considering a base non-Hybrid Avalon starts at $33,485. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid starts just more than $1,000 lower, and the Buick LaCrosse eAssist is around $3,000 less; the Lexus ES 300h starts higher, at $41,870. I tested an Avalon Limited, which starts in luxury-car territory, at $42,785.

If you're buying the Avalon Hybrid to save on fuel costs, it'll take years for its price premium to pay off at the pump, if ever. However, if you're looking for a large, comfortable, poised fuel-sipping sedan — and don't mind paying a little extra to check all those boxes — the Avalon Hybrid is a good candidate.

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Latest 2016 Avalon Hybrid Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

This car is akin to a starship

by Proud Owner from Waterloo, IL on March 22, 2018

I absolutely love this car. I have the Premium in Parisian Blue. I call it the USS Avalon because it feels like you’re driving a starship. So much room! Even my family of five (with one in a rear-... Read full review

(5.0)

Comfort, Performance and Economy

by AValon16 from Buffalo Grove, IL on March 19, 2018

This is a nice, full-sized sedan with all the creature comforts and style that delivers great fuel efficiency. Finally, the Avalon doesn't look boxy and dull (very Lexus-y now)! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Plus

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
acceptable
Structure and Safety Cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Toyota

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, Carfax vehicle history report, travel protection and toll-free assistance line

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase. Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original in-service date ($50 deductible) Note: In AL, FL, GA, NC and SC, 7-year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage begins Jan. 1 of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles. Hybrid: 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on Factory HV Battery for Toyota Hybrid Vehicles.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 160 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Avalon Hybrid received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker