Despite being an industry leader in hybrid drivetrain technology, Toyota is taking advantage of more angles to improve its car’s fuel efficiency.
“Our target was to dramatically improve all aspects of dynamic performance,” Avalon chief engineer Randy Stephens said, “Especially in the areas of fuel efficiency, handling and performance.”
That target brought about a stiffer Avalon for 2013 that is also 110 lbs lighter than the outgoing model, something that will make the car more fuel efficient without sacrificing the previous model’s driving characteristics. Toyota says it managed to reduce that weight by looking specifically at key areas like body and seat structure and wheel design.
“Less mass makes Avalon more responsive and engaging near handling limits,” he explained. “Also, with less mass, less tire width is needed to reach competitive grip levels. The smaller width helps minimize drag losses to help enhance fuel economy, too,” Stephen Provost, Toyota ride and handling manager said.
But this isn’t the first time in recent history a Toyota has seen an engineering overhaul for weight loss and improved efficiency. In May, the California Air Resources Board commissioned sports car manufacturer Lotus to strip a Toyota Venza down as needed to achieve a similar result.
Arguably one of the industry’s leading experts in delivering lightweight cars, Lotus managed to trim the car’s weight 36 percent, bringing about 23 percent better mileage. As a rule of thumb, every 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight is good for about 6 to 8 percent better fuel economy.
In the 2013 Avalon’s case, Toyota dropped roughly 3 percent of its weight, meaning the weight along will probably account for a little more than 2 percent better mileage.