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Test Drive: Luxury Hybrids – Not an Oxymoron

It used to be that driving a gasoline-electric hybrid meant forgoing creature comforts the rest of the motoring public takes for granted. Not anymore.

Test Drive: Toyota Avalon Hybrid

(Photo: Toyota)

It’s practically a given: We live in a world where green cars tend to be small, quirky-looking or both. Which makes the Toyota Avalon Hybrid stand out, precisely because it is neither.

While the Avalon Hybrid can be a downright classy ride in its luxury-oriented Limited guise, the XSE model I tested featured sportier styling details, including larger 18-inch, dark-painted wheels and unique blacked-out mesh grille.

My tester featured generous room for four adults, though tall passengers might wish for a little more rear-seat headroom. Pop the lid on the huge trunk and you’ll find the same 16.1 cubic feet of cargo space as the non-hybrid Avalon, with no bulky hybrid battery pack that often eats into the space.

Toyota’s long list of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert, also adds welcome peace-of-mind.

All this and 40-plus mpg? That’s a given we can get behind.

Test Drive: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Over the years, gasoline-electric hybrids have developed an admittedly well-deserved reputation for exotic shapes that make them seem derived from crash-landed alien spacecraft. Well, the handsome new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid smashes that extraterrestrial stereotype with earthly panache.

For starters, this hybrid version of the Korean automaker’s midsize sedan boasts a remarkably sleek organic shape. Up top, note the cool optional rooftop solar panel that helps recharge the batteries.

Behind the wheel of the top Limited model I drove there was a definite upscale feeling, enhanced by surprisingly good ride and handling qualities and downright eager acceleration, something not all hybrids can claim. The fact that it can do it while returning outstanding Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates makes it all the more remarkable.

Put it all together and you have a hybrid sedan that’s firmly rooted on planet Earth.

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews at AAA.com/TestDrive.

Comments
  • ELIZABETH T.

    Show hybrids at reasonable price, everyone’s always touting the benefits which but the price is an oxymoron.

    Reply

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