Print 17 comment(s) - last by Visual.. on Jul 2 at 5:30 AM

Toyota's big sedan gets hybrid power

Toyota continues its push to spread hybrid technology throughout its automotive lineup, and the latest recipient is the Avalon. The 2013 Avalon was first shown at the New York Auto Show in April, but details on its powertrain options weren't made available at that time.
Today, Toyota is revealing that the 2013 Avalon will now be available with the same hybrid powertrain that is found in the Camry Hybrid and the Lexus ES300h. That means that a 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine is found under the hood that is paired with a pair of electric motors located in the transaxle. Unlike its competitors, Toyota still hasn't made the move to lithium-ion battery technology, so it's still stuck with less efficient nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Despite the older battery technology, the Avalon Hybrid is good for 200 total system horsepower and achieves EPA ratings of 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway (40 mpg combined). Those rating absolutely obliterate competition like the Buick Lacrosse eAssist which is rated at only 29 mpg combined.
Toyota says that the Avalon Hybrid can travel at up to 25 mph on battery power alone; however, you'll be able to travel one mile at that pace (you can blame the nickel-metal hydride batteries for that poor showing).

For those that prefer a little more grunt under the hood, the 2013 Avalon will still be available with last year's 3.5-liter V6 which pumps out 268hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. That extra power also means that you'll be hitting the gas pump much more frequently with EPA ratings of 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway (25 mpg combined).

Source: Toyota

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By arthur449 on 6/25/2012 6:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm okay with Toyota sticking with a more reliable yet older battery technology until all the quirks of Li-Ion are well known, and methods for handling their instability when damaged and charging/discharging at temperature extremes are perfected.

I'm okay beta testing new technology on PC hardware, but when I'm plunking down a serious amount of money and potentially putting my life on the line I want stability over pure performance.

By Pirks on 6/25/2012 7:35:58 PM , Rating: 1
LiFePO4 batteries have no quirks, I use a couple in my 72V 10Ah speed demon e-bike and I know for sure I won't touch lame Totyota hybrids with a 10 foot pole unless they stop being THAT dumb and switch from NiMH crap into the proper battery tech - LiFePO4.

By jackpro on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
By Nutzo on 6/26/2012 12:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
And how many miles will your LiFePO4 batteries last?

Toyota is very conservative with its battery design for a reason. There are Prius that are still running fine after over 200,000 miles on their batteries.

Meanwhile we have already see one of the other auto companies being sued due to the batteries degrading after only a few years.

Considering the cost of replacement batteries, I think I’d stick with reliability.

By jconan on 6/27/2012 12:20:03 AM , Rating: 2
There's nothing wrong with NiMH unless you're thinking of NiCd.

By Visual on 6/26/12, Rating: 0
By Visual on 7/2/2012 5:30:24 AM , Rating: 2
Good to see that the article got corrected, even if that makes people downvote my post now that they do not see what I was referring to.

Toyota Styling is lagging its Engineering
By BernardP on 6/26/2012 10:46:05 AM , Rating: 2
Is that an Avalon? At first glance, it looks like a Hyundai Sonata.

Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that Hyundai and Kia would become design leaders?

By lelias2k on 6/26/2012 2:04:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they got a Sonata and made it ugly. lol

I was in Korea about 8 years ago and the VP of design for BMW said something like: "they (Hyunday/Kia) will learn eventually that to be a leader you can't copy all the time, you have to innovate."

I guess "eventually" arrived. :)

By immortalsly on 6/26/2012 2:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly my thought! That's the maw of the Sonata Hybrid. It kinda works on the Sonata (sharp angles, blacked out, and a bit sinister looking) but not on the Avalon. Looks almost like Toyota decided to put it in when they couldn't figure out what to do. It's really an odd design decision.

By integr8d on 6/26/2012 3:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
Where's the option that makes the Avalon look eerily similar to the 2013 Ford Fusion?

Oh wait. That comes standard.

RE: ...
By DukeN on 6/26/2012 10:37:51 AM , Rating: 1
Uh, the Avalon has way more legroom and room in general than the midgety Fusion?

Also, if Toyota keeps it consistent the Avalon usually has high end finishes (almost Lexus-like), while Ford's component quality is Ford's (not a compliment).

Atkinson cycle = no thanks
By Alexvrb on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: Atkinson cycle = no thanks
By Brandon Hill on 6/25/2012 10:37:15 PM , Rating: 3
Uhh, the two electric motors in the Camry/ES300h/Avalon hybrids put out 141 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque in addition to the 153 hp and 153 lb-ft from the gasoline engine.

They are NOT starved for power off the line or in any real situation.

2012 Camry Hybrid ($25,990 base)
Zero to 60 mph: 7.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.7 sec @ 92 mph
Fuel economy: 39 mpg combined

For comparison

2013 Malibu Eco eAssist ($25,235)
Zero to 60 mph: 8.1 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.3 sec @ 86 mph
Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined

Who in their right mind would buy the Malibu Eco?

RE: Atkinson cycle = no thanks
By Keeir on 6/25/2012 11:27:47 PM , Rating: 1
Errr... specs can be misleading Brandon.


Most of Toyota's Hybrids are battery limited, not electric motor limited.

In the case of this and the Camry Hybrid, it seems like the electric motors are capable of at most ~20 hp. (See max speed of -25- mph). 199 lb-fts of torque is nice and all... but its laugable that they put out "141 hp". The Battery is not capable of that rate of discharge.


You misread his post. He specifically is saying at low RPM ranges (0-3,000 rpm), the typical Atkin Cycle engine produces lower torque than Otto Cycle. Potentially in a large vechile this could pose a problem.

Your rebuttal is that at peak power, the Camry does a better job of adding in through it PSD the ~20 HP from the electric motor than the Eco integrates it ~10 HP electric motor. That's besides the point.

However, I think he is misguideed.
Toyota does not run a true Atkin Cycle engine. They run a modified cycle on Otto Cycle engines. Its possible that they have modified the ECU and Hybrid circuity to take into account the greater mass of an Avalon versus a Camry and adjusted the lower end torque to help with the driving experience.

The overall point is valid, while the Toyota Hybrids exhibit superior mileage and straight line drag performace, this does not immediately translate into "driving" experience. For years, people purchased V6 cars over adequately powered and more fuel efficient I4s simply due to feel of Low-end torque.

(I agree on the Malibu Mild Hybrid BTW. I don't really get the point. Once you put on the special tires, modify the feedback mechanisms, add the mass and complication of a battery... does it really matter if it -slightly- better driving than a Prius/Camry type? Its worse than a standard car, costs more, and does reach the end savings a Prius/Camry would...)

RE: Atkinson cycle = no thanks
By protomech on 6/26/2012 10:56:35 AM , Rating: 2
The electric motors are indeed limited by maximum battery power - but to about 44 hp (33 kW). The 25 mph speed restriction is due to not wanting to draw the battery too far down. Toyota does not fully charge or discharge the NiMH pack for longevity reasons; the 1.6 kW pack only exposes a portion of its energy to the user (in the SOC display) at any given time.

(on the Prius, too, the ICE has to turn over above a certain speed due to some gearing choices - this also applies to the plug-in prius, which cannot do highway speeds without turning on the ICE)

RE: Atkinson cycle = no thanks
By nolisi on 6/26/2012 11:45:09 AM , Rating: 2
You misread his post. He specifically is saying at low RPM ranges (0-3,000 rpm), the typical Atkin Cycle engine produces lower torque than Otto Cycle. Potentially in a large vechile this could pose a problem.

Why? What kind of a problem? A mechanical problem or the driving experience issue you reference later? Vagueness like this aren't a point. Toyota likely engineered the car so that the engine works with the larger mass.

The overall point is valid, while the Toyota Hybrids exhibit superior mileage and straight line drag performace, this does not immediately translate into "driving" experience.

A) Most people wouldn't know "driving experience" if it hit them in the face. Those people tend to care about more practical aspects of the car, such as mileage.

B)I can't speak for Toyota, but as far as Fords go, the driving experience I get out of my '09 Escape Hybrid is far more pleasurable than when I rent a newer '11 '12 i4. I don't notice a huge difference in maneuverability, but I definitely feel more torque out of my vehicle.

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