I have a soft spot for big sedans like the 2022 Toyota Avalon. Why? Because it never gave up on comfort and cushiness. Yes, Toyota created sporty versions like the Touring and TRD but there was always something for those that wanted a traditional cruiser. So when the Japanese automaker announced the Avalon’s discontinuation, I felt sad because it’s a fantastic cruiser. When the opportunity came to drive the car one last time in hybrid form, I jumped at it and savored every moment. Simply put, it didn’t disappoint, and here’s why.
2022 Toyota Avalon: Top-Class Digs
The 2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is the ultimate version of this big, cushy four-door. Its sleek, stately exterior gives it presence even in subdued colors. While the massive grille isn’t for everyone, it allows the car to stand out. The interior, however, is the true highlight; airy, spacious, and sophisticated. Lexus-level build and attention to detail add to the classy ambiance, especially with the real wood trim. Everything you touch feels high-quality, while generous sound insulation keeps the cabin quiet even at highway speeds.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, one of the newer versions of the brand’s driver assistance suite, is an improvement. It’s gentle with its corrections when you drift out of your lane and nudges you back seamlessly. The system’s adaptive cruise control component also does a great job keeping your set distance and quickly reacts if someone cuts you off or the vehicle ahead suddenly slows down. On the highway, the steering assist system will also help you navigate through turns in coordination with the lane-centering system. However, that’s only possible with adaptive cruise control active.
Perhaps the only weakness of the Avalon Hybrid’s interior and tech features is the infotainment system. It uses the older Entune interface featuring a 9.0-inch touchscreen with dated graphics. While the controls are simple, they’re slow to respond to your inputs, which can get distracting. At least the available 14-speaker JBL audio system sounds good and does a great job covering the cabin.
Comfort and refinement are synonymous with the Avalon and the hybrid version only amplifies that. Powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 coupled to an electric drive motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a planetary gear set, this electrified barge makes 215 hp combined. While that’s down versus the V-6-powered Avalon, it’s more than enough for this car’s use cases: commuting and road trips. You get seamless power delivery when you put your right foot down thanks to the electric drive motor’s instant torque. Don’t let those numbers fool you because this doesn’t feel underpowered. Even when you ask for everything to get up a hill or pass slower traffic, the car moves without any fuss. Best of all, the Avalon Hybrid possesses an EPA rating of 43 mpg across the board (43/44/44 mpg city/highway combined for the XLE grade) meaning you’re not sacrificing efficiency for luxury.
The highlight of the Avalon Hybrid’s driving experience is the ride comfort. XLE and Limited grades, the latter of which was the version I drove, are tuned for maximum cushiness and it didn’t disappoint. Road imperfections disappear underneath the car and you barely feel anything because the cabin is so isolated from everything. Tires with generous sidewalls also contribute to the Avalon’s Lexus level ride quality. Unlike previous generations, the final one doesn’t waft like you’re bouncing from one cloud to another. Thanks to Toyota’s rigid TNGA-K architecture, the Avalon Hybrid is confident on the road and doesn’t get unruly through turns or when executing emergency maneuvers. Light but accurate steering adds a sense of effortlessness, especially on the highway.
Brake pedal operation in the Avalon Hybrid is smooth and stress-free. You get linear transitions from regenerative to mechanical braking and progressive build-up of stopping power. That means you’re not getting jolted when you have to stop suddenly. The amount of energy recuperated enables you to recharge the battery to full when going downhill, coasting, or exiting a highway. However, you don’t have one-pedal driving.
The Best-Kept Secret is Gone
With SUVs on the rise and midsize and large sedan popularity declining, Toyota had no choice but to discontinue the Avalon. That’s a shame because its electrified variant is one of the best-kept secrets. The 2022 Toyota Avalon Hybrid gives everything you expect out of a big luxury sedan and a traditional cruiser. Not having a luxury badge makes it a fantastic deal starting in the high-$30,000 range before topping out around $46,000. This is for those who value stealth wealth, consumers that want to treat themselves but don’t need a status symbol. As production ends in August, I’m grateful for the opportunity to drive the Avalon Hybrid one last time. Those that manage to put one in their garage before it goes to automotive heaven will have a durable, luxurious cruiser that will serve them for a long time and deliver endless delight and comfort.
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