The Toyota Avalon Is the Only Large Car to Earn This Consumer Reports Designation

Being green is important to a lot of people. One place that’s historically been tough to be green is when driving a car. The new Green Choice designation will help buyers easily find the vehicles with the lowest emissions. Buyers looking for a Green Choice large car don’t have much of a choice, though; the 2021 Toyota Avalon is the only large car that earned this designation.

What is Consumer Reports’ Green Choice designation?

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that come from vehicles contribute to climate change and the related concerns of heatwaves and droughts, extreme storms, and rising sea levels. Auto emissions are often especially bad in urban areas and disadvantaged communities, which have lots of major roads plus industrial sites, says Consumer Reports. People living in these areas have higher rates of pollution-related health concerns.

Luckily, new automotive technologies are making cleaner cars possible, even when they’re still gas-powered. Hybrid and all-electric vehicles don’t produce any emissions while driving. Consumer Reports’ new designation of Green Choice will help vehicle buyers locate these greener options. Green Choice vehicles are marked with a green leaf icon throughout the Consumer Reports’ website.

A car that earns the Consumer Reports Green Choice designation has low or zero emissions, so it pollutes less, producing lower levels of greenhouse gases and smog-causing gases. Green Choice is awarded to the highest 20 percent “of vehicles on the market with the cleanest emissions.”

The Green Choice vehicles are a better option for both human health and the environment. “EVs are best for the environment, but you can still meaningfully reduce your impact by choosing the right gas-powered car or truck,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

“About a quarter of CR’s recommended cars earn the Green Choice designation, including midsized vehicles and even some larger hybrid SUVs and minivans.” In addition to helping consumers, the Green Choice designation will also encourage auto manufacturers to make greener vehicles. One such vehicle is the Toyota Avalon.

The 2021 Toyota Avalon earns Consumer Reports’ Green Choice designation

The red Toyota Motor Corp. Avalon TRD vehicle is displayed during AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show
The Toyota Avalon | Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Consumer Reports tests out lots of cars, and it gets additional emissions information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program. On Consumer Reports‘ list of the four large cars for 2021, only the Toyota Avalon was able to earn the Green Choice designation. The Nissan Maxima, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300 did not.

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid has a nine out of 10 rating from the EPA for greenhouse gas emissions (with 10 being the best). Its smog rating is seven out of 10. Non-hybrid versions of the 2021 Avalon are rated either five or six out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions and five out of 10 for their smog rating. 

The 2021 Avalon is the only one of the four large cars that offers a hybrid option. The other three cars all have a greenhouse gas emissions rating from the EPA of five out of 10 and smog ratings of three out of 10.

The green 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

RELATED: What Do They Test for in an Emissions Inspection?

The 2021 Toyota Avalon is a Green Choice because of its hybrid version. The Avalon Hybrid has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors. Combined, they generate 215 hp.

In an update new for the 2021 model year, the nickel-metal hydride battery has been replaced with a lithium-ion battery pack. The warranty for the hybrid battery was recently increased to 10 years from the date of first use or 150,000 miles. It had been eight years or 100,000 miles.

The Avalon Hybrid is rated for 42 MPG overall for its fuel efficiency, says Consumer Reports. The non-hybrid Avalon is rated for 25 MPG overall. However, U.S. News points out that many smaller hybrids do have better fuel efficiency.

In addition to its Green Choice designation, the 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a great pick for other reasons. U.S. News chose it as its 2021 Best Hybrid or Electric Car for Families, saying it has a “great combination of cargo and passenger space, safety and reliability ratings, positive reviews from automotive journalists, and available family-friendly features.”

There isn’t much of a price increase to get the hybrid version, so it’s worth taking a look at the 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. The price for this Green Choice starts at $37,100.