2013 Toyota Avalon adds a pricey hybrid option

Posted by Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling

Toyota’s flagship sedan Avalon is going hybrid.

 The Japanese automaker recently unveiled pricing and specs for its upcoming 2013 Avalon line , and one can expect to pay over $35,000 starting for a green car that is EPA-rated at a combined 40 mpg (40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy).

Toyota said the 2013 Avalon Hybrid, which is the first time this particular sedan has had the hybrid treatment applied to it, uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder employing the Atkinson cycle which alone is rated at 156 horsepower at 5,700 rpm.

It is mated to two high output electric motors housed in the transaxle that are rated at 105 kW total, and the total system output for the Avalon’s Hybrid Synergy Drive comes in at 200 horsepower, or enough to help the vehicle accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 8.0 seconds.

Powering the hybrid system is a 244.8-volt nickel metal-hydride battery housed inside a battery pack installed inside the luggage compartment and close to the rear seat to help maximize trunk capacity. Regenerative braking helps to recharge this battery. The Avalon Hybrid offers up multiple driving modes, similar to other hybrids and electric cars, which allow for choices between better fuel economy and performance. There’s also an EV only mode that allows the car to go for about one mile at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour when conditions are ideal.

Toyota projects that, considering the EPA-rated fuel economy, one could potentially go up to 680 miles on a single tank of gas.

For the 2013 Avalon, the book has been thrown out the window somewhat in its new design. The hope, according to Car & Driver, is that this reimagined vehicle, described as a "love letter to the AARP" when it first debuted in 1994, will now appeal to a younger generation. While that remains to be seen, Toyota has taken some serious steps to try and make this car not just something your grandparents drive to the store and back in.

Describing the new design as more "elegant and athletic," Toyota said the 2013 model offers more compact and sport like exterior dimensions and with "a greater styling sophistication that does not sacrifice interior comfort." The interior is indeed something of a different direction for the Avalon, right down to its "sculpted dash panel and its concave surfaces in front of the passenger” to help “add to the sense of the cabin spaciousness."

Technological features of the 2013 hybrid model include a specific needle-type display that displays hybrid power output and regeneration. An Eco area on the dial display "helps show when the vehicle is being driven in an Eco-sensitive manner, and it can help guide a driver’s throttle input to develop economical driving habits."

This display is joined by other enhancements such as two types of climate control systems, a 6.1-inch TFT touchscreen that offers infotainment and navigation options along with two millimeter wave radar systems that help add what is described as "an additional measure of occupant safety."

The 2013 Avalon Hybrid goes on sale at the beginning of December. It follows a plan Toyota laid out recently that has it steering more towards hybrids and away from electric vehicles.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling