2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: Gas Mileage Drive Report

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New for 2013, the Toyota Avalon has been radically restyled to give Toyota's largest four-door sedan fresher, more aggressive lines.

To our surprise, the big sedan turned heads in traffic, with a number of people turning to look at it--most likely to try to figure out what it was.

But it's the gas mileage that we were interested in, so we tested an Avalon Hybrid, a new model added to the range this year as part of the all-new third-generation Avalon design.

40 mpg combined

The 2013 Avalon Hybrid is rated by the EPA at 40 mpg combined (40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway).

That's a tad lower than the smaller Camry Hybrid LE, at 41 mpg combined, but the same combined rating as the Camry Hybrid XLE.

On a 292-mile test drive over a long weekend, using our usual drive route of about two-thirds highway mileage and one third around-town travel, Toyota's largest sedan gave us a combined gas mileage of 40.2 mpg.

Which we'd say is pretty darn good for a full-size sedan that weighs 3,600 pounds.

Familiar Toyota hybrid

Both the Avalon and the Camry use Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine, paired with the Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which contains two electric motor-generators.

The system can power the car on electricity alone, under light loads, and use the electric motors to provide supplemental torque that assists the engine.

The motors turn into generators to recharge the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack using engine overrun and regenerative braking, and they switch on the engine when needed.

Unlike the standard Prius liftback model, the hybrid system in the Avalon has been tuned to permit all-electric running as high as 48 mph.

Nailing its rating

We found it easy to keep the car in "EV" mode for a mile or more if the road was flat or a slight downgrade, and traffic permitted us to maintain a steady speed.

Speed matters, of course: We noticed that we could easily average 42 mpg around town, but mileage dipped below 40 mpg on the highway.

Overall, the Avalon Hybrid neatly nailed its EPA combined rating on our test drive--unlike some hybrids from other makers.

And it goes to reinforce our impression that Toyota's hybrid system returns real-world efficiency that's pretty close to the EPA ratings that are the only fuel efficiency metric any maker is allowed to publicize.

We did, however, notice a very obvious whine from the car's electronics under certain circumstances, especially on deceleration.

We can't tell if that's because this model is otherwise so quiet and well damped inside, but it was a bit of a surprise--and much more noticeable than in our recent Hyundai Sonata Hybrid or any of the various 2013 Ford hybrid models we've tested.

2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid - First Drive, 10/2012

2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid - First Drive, 10/2012

Enlarge Photo

No fold-down seat

We assumed that the lack of a fold-down rear seat in our Avalon Hybrid was due to the presence of the high-voltage battery pack in the trunk floor.

That turned out not to be the case: No 2013 Avalon offers a rear seatback that folds down, which precludes owners from stowing extra large packages by using a bit of the passenger cabin.

The one exception to the generally calm ride and hushed cabin was that on rough road surfaces and broken pavement, tire noise became extremely obvious--again perhaps because the usual experience in the car is otherwise so quiet.

For more details on the full Avalon line, including options, prices, specifications, and more, see The Car Connection's full review of the 2013 Toyota Avalon.

$43,000-plus out the door

Our top-of-the-line silver 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited test car carried a base price of $41,400, making it Toyota's most expensive hybrid sedan.

It had only a handful of options: carpeted floor and trunk mats ($225), a remote engine starter ($499), and $395 worth of "paint protection film" from the factory.

With the mandatory delivery fee of $795, our car had a bottom-line sticker price of $43,314.


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Comments (22)
  1. To me, 40 mpg (real world number as proven here) is just outstanding in a car of this size. There are many sub compacts that can't achieve that number. Toyota has done a wonderful job on implementing their hybrid system into the Camry and the Avalon, and deserve the sales success IMHO.

  2. 40.2 MPG may sound good to some folks, but I think that is just another run of the mill car. Also with a price like that you are paying about $4000 more than a Ford Fusion Energi. That will give you well over 20 miles on electric. Add in a $3750 Federal Tax Credit and the Fusion Energi is almost $7,000 cheaper.

  3. @Barry: Thanks for the info. However, I'd argue that the Avalon is at least half a size bigger than the Fusion--for which the more appropriate Toyota comparison is the Camry or Camry Hybrid. (There's no Camry plug-in hybrid to compete directly with the Fusion Energi, of course.)

  4. John, do the numbers you provide from a gas mileage drive report come from the vehicle computer, filling and then re-filling the tank, or an aftermarket instrument? This might be a point worth mentioning. I always enjoy these pieces.

  5. No, it is onboard reporting by the Toyota "computers"...

    They are "known" to be on the "optimistic" side. I guess there are NO guidelines on how accurate those mpg displays have to be...

    But that is another topic/article all together.

    I am willing to bet that Toyota cars "cheat" on that...

  6. For what it is worth, the MPG numbers on my Prius are very close to the numbers calculated based on fill-ups.

    In fact, the computer based MPGs for a single fill-up are probably more accurate because the automatic shutoff on the filling station pumps are not 100% reliable.

    Of course, over multiple tanks, the filling station numbers are the most reliable.

  7. There was a test done by a group of hybrid enthusiasts in comparing the C-Max, Prius and Prius V over a long road trip (the link was provided by GCR). In their test, all 3 cars computer display were over "optimistic". Prius was off by as much as 9%. They did a "full fill up" and multiple tanks...

    9% on 43 mpg (what they got over the long trip) is about 3 mpg more than it actually did....

  8. @Darin: Thanks for the good words. These readings come from the onboard computer in the vehicle. Unfortunately, High Gear Media isn't really set up like a Consumer Reports or the few other outlets that can have multiple people spend weeks with every car.

    Filling the tank and measuring the miles covered to calculate usage is only really accurate over much longer periods--five tanks or more--which we can't do because each of us drives so many cars (40 or 50 a year).

    I will note that readings over my usual test route tend to align pretty closely (within a margin of error) with the crowdsourced MPG reporting both on the EPA FuelEconomy.gov site and other sites like Fuelly.

  9. I think many of the users on Fuelly also depend on the actual computer reading instead of the work required for tank vs. miles calculation...

  10. Most of the Prius owners I know of don't. They simply input the gallons pumped and miles traveled. This bypasses the 4%-5% error that comes with the GenIII Prius calculator. The GenII was approx. 2% optimistic.

  11. Toyota gets it. What's not to love?

  12. When Toyota starts building quality cars once again I might consider one that is built by UAW labor. I had a 2012 Camry that I leased only because the Prius could not even get out of its own way. The 2012 Camry was a piece of junk. The shifter and steering had way to much "play" in them.

  13. You must have had a lemon, because my 2007 Camry hybrid still drives like a Lexus ES.

  14. I looked at the Avalon, and loved its feel, but the lack of a fold-down rear actually killed it for me. I have pretty frequent occasion to need the extra length, or to get access to the trunk from inside the car. I really need a wagon, but the existing hybrids aren't quite there - the Prius V is under-powered and the C-MAX too small.

  15. The C-Max is much bigger than it looks. I find it very spacious inside and I am not a small person. If you want a larger car check out the Fusion Energi.

  16. Fusion Energi? So, they have to put up with its small trunk of sub 9 cu ft?

    You start to sound like a Ford sales person...

  17. The loss of space in the load-bay for the C-Max energi is a real disappointment. But otherwise, it looks like a great vehicle. Nice interior.

  18. i think this car is the best designed toyota hybrid car because it has all the characteristics that a car should have.beautiful and elegant and packed power design with luxury system inside and some new features with good suspension and comfortable seats.and also known as 268 horse power.in my opinion i think it is in the good rank of hybrid cars.

  19. 268hp is the conventional V6. Hybrid 4cyl is 200hp.

  20. My avalon hybrid is 2013 and it is 3 months since I bought it and has 3000 miles, I drive it in eco mode. I am observing in city it does not give more than 30 MPG, freeway it gives around 38MPG.

    Does the car has a break in period? or do I need to take it to the dealer for checking it out. I love the car, little dis appointed with the mileage.

    Please help.

  21. I own a '13 Avalon Hybrid and have never been over 32.3 mpg...and I was foolish to think the '+40' mpg was real...Marketing at it's best I suppose. :(
    I drive mostly highway...75-80 miles per day R/T...and have about 30k on the car...
    In essence my mileage is almost 20% less than advertised...which really upsets me.

  22. Over 70mph starts hurting mpg's.

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