Toyota Knows Hybrids: Highlander, Avalon, and Camry Built to Impress
  • Kristin Shaw

Toyota Knows Hybrids: Highlander, Avalon, and Camry Built to Impress

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

In Texas, the support for the oil and gas market is fierce. And indeed, the petroleum industry supports a number of products from pharmaceuticals to plastics to roadways. The desire for electric vehicles in the cities, however, is growing.

Plano, Texas-based Toyota is on the case, and both this brand and its luxury arm, Lexus, offer several hybrid models in their lineup. The Prius, one of the industry’s first ultra-successful hybrid models, was redesigned for 2019 and it’s a good choice for young professionals and strong families. And the company’s Highlander and Avalon hybrid models are proving to be a combination of great design, engineering, and ingenuity.

In the race for dominance in the three-row SUV segment, the Highlander is a strong contender. The sedan market, which was rumored to be dying two years ago, has refused to go quietly. In fact, other manufacturers like Nissan and Honda have come out swinging with updates to their popular four-door cars. Toyota’s Camry and Avalon are both selling well, and the addition of Toyota Safety System 2.0 standard to all 2019 vehicles gives these vehicles a competitive advantage.

The hybrid versions of all three models – the Highlander, Avalon, and Camry – offer the customer who wants reliability and comfort the opportunity to also enjoy fantastic fuel economy.

So which one should you choose? Based on what we have tested, we can give you some tips to pick the right hybrid for your needs.

Which Toyota Hybrid Is Best for Me?

Need more passenger and cargo space? It’s a slam dunk if you’re looking for a three-row SUV; the Highlander Hybrid seats seven or eight. Eight is the only option in the lower trims, with a bench seat in the middle. In the higher trim levels, we’d highly recommend the option to replace the bench with captain’s chairs if you don’t need seating for eight.

Is a sedan your jam? For a five-passenger sedan, the Camry and the Avalon hybrid models are both comfortable and quiet, with capable powertrains. U.S. News and World Report named the 2019 Avalon the Best Large Car for the Money for its combination of value and quality in its class. One size down, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is slightly smaller than the Avalon Hybrid, but it the mpg rating improves by 9 mpg and costs about $9,000 less.

Are you luxury minded? Ultimately, if you want more trunk space and upscale features, swipe right for an Avalon. It offers the same amount of room in the trunk as the non-hybrid Avalon (which is unusual for hybrid models) at about 16 cubic feet. Comparing the powertrains of the Camry and Avalon hybrid models, the Camry includes 208 hp and the Avalon 215 hp. The weight difference between the two is less than 200 pounds, so really it's same/same in that regard. The difference is the price and the luxury interior.

Fast Facts: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • 2.5L inline-4 and a pair of electric motors 240 horsepower

  • Now offered with front- and all-wheel drive (the 2019 came with a V6 and AWD only)

  • Includes standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility

  • An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard for all trims but the Platinum, in which a 12.3-inch screen is front and center

  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 standard

  • Starts at $37,520 for 2019 model (2020 pricing not yet available)

Fass Facts: 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

  • 2.5L Dynamic Force Engine with an output of 44 mpg

  • JBL Clari-Fi audio system available as an option

  • Includes Active Cornering Assist, which can use the brakes on the inside wheel during cornering for better control

  • Updated noise- and vibration-reducing properties give you a quiet, smooth ride

  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 standard

  • Starts at $36,850 for the 2020 XLE Hybrid and $39,350 for XSE Hybrid

Fast Facts: 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid

  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 standard Fuel economy estimates for the Camry Hybrid ~52 mpg combined

  • Edmunds tested the Camry Hybrid and clocked it from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which they found to be faster than the gasoline-only Camry

  • Includes standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility

  • No word on a 2020 hybrid model yet, but the 2020 Camry TRD - with upgrades based on the racing line - is much anticipated

  • Starts at $28,400 MSRP for the LE (base model)


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