2013 Toyota Avalon gets a hybrid powertrain

2013 Toyota Avalon side viewToyota is adding an optional hybrid powertrain to its redesigned 2013 Avalon large sedan. The Avalon, unveiled at April’s New York Auto Show, is supposed to take Toyota in a new direction, paving the way for cars that are less boring, and more fun to drive. Making the Avalon a hybrid probably won’t increase its fun factor, but it will be a first for the big Toyota.

The Avalon’s hybrid equipment comes from the Camry and Lexus ES300h hybrids. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, which runs on the Atkinson cycle. It is combined with two electric motors, which get their power from a 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Toyota has had so much success with its NiMH-powered hybrids that it has not made the switch to lithium-ion batteries like other companies.

Total system output is 200 horsepower, which is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Toyota says the Avalon hybrid will return 40 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway. It will also do 0 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. The Avalon hybrid will be able to travel up to one mile on electric power, as long as the driver doesn’t exceed 25 mph.

On paper, the Avalon has a slight advantage over the more rakish Hyundai Sonata hybrid, which gets 35 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. Despite its size, the Avalon is also faster than the Hyundai, which does 0 to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. However, the Sonata (and its equally handsome Kia Optima sibling) is better looking than the Avalon, and that matters when a company uses evocative styling as a selling point. Speaking of lookers, Ford says its 2013 Fusion hybrid will outperform the Camry, which gets roughly the same mpg as the Avalon.

Size should be the Avalon hybrid’s biggest advantage, since it is a full-size sedan while the Hyundai, Ford, and Kia are midsize. However, at 111 inches, the Avalon’s wheelbase is only one inch longer than the Sonata’s and Optima’s; their passengers won’t exactly be cramped.

The non-hybrid Avalon will be powered by a 268 hp 3.5-liter V6, mated to a conventional six-speed automatic. This engine carries over from the old Avalon, and Toyota says it will propel the new car to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.

The Avalon was meant to take Toyota out of its beige period; it was a response to CEO Akio Toyoda’s demand for “more exciting vehicles.” The result is an improvement over the old Avalon, but that does not put it ahead of the competition.

Cars

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Turbo shows value and performance can go hand in hand

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata goes in a bold new design direction, with LED streaks on its hood and sleeker bodywork all around. It starkly contrasts with the current Sonata's conservative design.
Cars

2020 Ford Escape gets sleeker styling, greener powertrains, more tech

The 2020 Ford Escape gets redesigned for the first time since the 2013 model year. Ford brought back the hybrid powertrain, and is adding a plug-in hybrid option for the first time.
Cars

Drywall or kayaks? The 2020 Toyota Highlander is ready for your weekend plans

Toyota introduced the 2020 Highlander ahead of its public debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The fourth-generation Highlander is bigger than its predecessor, and it comes with more tech features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Cars

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show will have it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe will travel to the 2019 edition to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.
Cars

2020 Nissan 370Z Special Edition celebrates 50 Years of the Z car

Nissan is celebrating 50 years of its iconic "Z car" with a special edition of the 2020 370Z. The 50th-anniversary model is dressed to look like a 1970s race car, but remains technically unchanged.
Cars

2020 Cadillac CT5 luxury sedan gets turbocharged power, chiseled looks

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 proves the General Motors luxury brand still cares about sedans. Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, it features Cadillac's Super Cruise tech and a lineup of turbocharged engines.
Cars

2020 Lincoln Corsair crossover is small in size, but big on luxury

The 2020 Lincoln Corsair made its public debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. It replaces the MKC as the smallest crossover in Lincoln's lineup and shares underpinnings with the 2020 Ford Escape.
Cars

Genesis’ all-electric Mint concept proves small cars can still be stylish

Unveiled ahead of the 2019 New York Auto Show, the Genesis Mint concept is a future electric city car with scissor doors in place of a traditional hatchback. Genesis likely won't put it into production, however.
Cars

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.
Cars

The 2020 Subaru Outback wants to take you to (and teach you about) the outdoors

The Outback is one of Subaru's most significant models, so the Japanese firm couldn't afford to make a mistake when it overhauled the model. The sixth-generation Outback is still rugged but more user-friendly than ever before.
Cars

With drift mode, Kia’s Stinger GTS lets you unleash your inner hooligan

Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the limited-edition Kia Stinger GTS gets a trick all-wheel drive system that should enable plenty of sideways action. But only 800 buyers will get to try it.
Cars

Kia’s HabaNiro concept is an autonomous, electric car that knows when you’re sad

Debuting at the 2019 New York Auto Show, the Kia HabaNiro concept is supposed to preview the future of the everyday car. That future will include artificial intelligence tech that can read the driver's emotions, according to Kia.
Cars

Ford Mustang EcoBoost upgrade pulls serious performance from just four cylinders

The 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost gets a new "High Performance Package" that boosts output from the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to 330 horsepower, and adds suspension and brake upgrades.
Cars

The 2020 Hyundai Venue argues small and affordable doesn’t mean basic

Hyundai unveiled the 2020 Venue at the 2019 New York Auto Show. It's a city-friendly car that stands out as the smallest and most affordable member of the company's crossover and SUV lineup. Small doesn't mean basic, however.