The all-new Avalon is distinctive, stylish and the ’most-American’ vehicle of any Toyota product to date, more luxurious and refined, the redesigned Avalon is truly a flagship vehicle offering advanced technology and an understated elegance.
Avalon, which first launched in 1995, is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, KY, styled at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, CA, and developed by U.S.-based Toyota Technical Centers. The new Avalon went from final styling approval to production, in a mere 18 months, the quickest development time of any North American-produced Toyota. The short development time allowed Toyota to provide additional standard content at a better value.
The Toyota Avalon boasts modern styling inside and out, a full complement of safety kit, and an array of options straight from the Lexus catalog. The is a car, about as good as it gets in terms of space, refinement, power, quality, and safety. It’s not particularly exciting, but then it’s not designed to be. The Avalon is a big, quiet, comfortable cruiser along the lines of the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Five Hundred, and Buick LeSabre-not particularly sporty, somewhat luxurious, reasonably priced. If this is the class you’re shopping in, buy the Avalon. It’s the most refined and best built of the bunch.
The Avalon is offered in four grades, the standard XL grade, the sporty Touring grade, the well-equipped XLS and the top-of-the-line Limited.
Imagine yourself in a comfortable leather easy chair in a quiet, sedate bubble of tranquility. Imagine some soft music and perhaps a cool breeze blowing on your face. Now imagine this whole vision traveling at 70 miles per hour on the freeway, and that’s the Avalon.
The Avalon is distinguished by a sleek grille with chrome accented horizontal bars and subtle new character lines defining a more contemporary profile. The new lower intake valence houses fog lamps on the Touring, XLS and Limited models. From the rear, Avalon is identified by large tail lamps and an elegantly sculptured trunk. Dual rear exhaust outlets offer a sporty new touch to Avalon’s substantially larger exterior dimensions. With a four-inch longer wheelbase and overall width expanded by one-inch, the new Avalon exudes a powerful stance.
The more elegant exterior appearance of the Avalon is complemented by an all-new interior. New amenities include a seven-way adjustable steering column to provide drivers the option of various vertical and telescopic adjustments as well as a sliding armrest for optimal driving comfort. Rear passengers also benefit from a flat rear floor that provides additional leg room and comfort, especially for the middle seat passenger. Rear passengers also enjoy reclining seats up to 10-degrees using a lever on either side of the seat.
Responsive handling contributes to Avalon’s engaging drive, yet ride quality remains a benchmark of smoothness. While the XL model features 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels are standard on the Touring, XLS and Limited grades. Michelin Energy MXV4 P215/55 R17 tires were designed exclusively for the Avalon Touring and Limited models for improved control, responsive steering and sharpened handling. The Touring model features a more firmly tuned suspension and higher coil spring rates. The Touring grade wheels also feature a graphite finish.
Engineers optimized the exterior design of the Avalon for minimal wind noise and reduced cabin noise and vibration by refining the shape of the A-pillar and side mirrors and lowering the position of its aerodynamic windshield wipers. In addition, the Limited model offers a specially designed noise-reducing windshield. I can’t see how a windshield could reduce the noise any further. But if anyone can do it, Toyota canToyota’s first low-profile wiper blade was uniquely developed for the Avalon. The wiper blade’s aerodynamic, low-profile and lower sectional height results in efficient wiping and reduced wind noise. The one-piece blade assembly contributes to the reduction of frozen blades.
The Avalon brings several "firsts" to the Toyota lineup. Side mirrors on the Limited grade feature Toyota’s first "in-glass" LED turn signal, and a LED puddle lamp that illuminates the area along the side of the car when passengers approach the vehicle. The Limited grade also features side mirror memory. Compared to the previous generation Avalon, new high performance halogen headlamps light the road with a longer and wider beam and are standard on XL and XLS grades. Touring and Limited grades feature high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps with dynamic auto leveling for improved visibility, while reducing glare for oncoming traffic.
Standard comfort and convenience features on the XL grade includes a premium AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo system with nine speakers, dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration, remote keyless entry, power door locks with anti-lockout feature, power windows with driver and passenger auto up/down with jam protection and retained power, fabric front bucket seats, multi-adjustable power driver’s seat and center console storage area.
Other standard features include optitron meters with chrome accents, maintenance indicator light, steering wheel mounted audio and climate controls, multi-function information display with audio, climate control, temperature and trip computer, cruise control, engine immobilizer, and tilt and telescopic steering column.In addition to the standard features of the XL, the Touring grade is equipped with leather-trimmed seats, power front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and aluminum door scuff plates.
Also adding to the XL standard features, the XLS grade includes power moonroof, four-way adjustable power passenger seat, in-dash six-disc CD changer, dual heated outside mirrors with auto-dimming electrochromic driver’s side, auto-dimming electrochromic rearview mirror with compass, aluminum door scuff plates and anti-theft system.
The crown jewel , the Limited version, adds to the XLS features with a JBL Synthesis audio system with six-disc CD changer and 12-speakers, one-touch auto-reverse power rear sunshade, driver and front passenger heated seat with fan, memory driver’s seat, power driver’s seat cushion length adjuster, and Smart Key System, the last gadget is an on-board sensor recognizes the signal from a light and compact key fob when it is in close proximity, turning on the puddle lamps and interior dome lamp and unlocking the doors when touched. Once the Smart Key System is engaged, the system allows the driver to start the engine by pushing the power switch. The driver can also position the key close to the power switch and push the switch to start the engine. Smart Key users do not have a conventional key to start the engine. The Smart Key System also allows drivers to open the trunk when the key fob is near the rear bumper.
The Limited grade caters to driver comfort. The front of the driver’s seat cushion length is power adjustable, resulting in improved support and a better fit between the seat surface and thigh. Not only are the driver and front passenger seats heated, but they also feature a fan in the seat cushion and seat back that blows air through the perforated leather trim to improve driver and front passenger comfort.
The heart of this beauty is a new V6 engine, an 3.5-liter, 24 valve, matched to a five-speed sequential shift automatic transmission. A sequential shift feature allows the driver to enjoy a more involved driving experience by controlling gearshifts manually, when desired. Equipped with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), and a dual-stage variable intake manifold, the new V6 produces an impressive 280 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque — a performance improvement in horsepower of more than 33 percent over the previous generation. This engine is the most powerful V6 ever offered by Toyota in its U.S. model line-up.
Toyota developed many technological improvements specifically for this engine, including the introduction of a unique new roller rocker concave cam profile that provides faster opening and later closing of the valves which is a key contributor to Avalon’s power increase. In addition, the dual VVT-i system optimizes intake and exhaust valve timing to increase high-speed torque, ultimately improving fuel economy.
The Avalon can effortlessly accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in 6.6 seconds while achieving an impressive estimated EPA fuel economy mpg rating of 22 city/31 highway. In addition to being more powerful and more fuel efficient, the Avalon is targeted to be certified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).
The safety has been upgraded from the previous model, with numerous features & gadgets to make your life safer. The front seat-mounted side airbags have been redesigned to provide a greater coverage area, and the body structure has been strengthened to help meet the latest side impact standards. Front and rear side-curtain airbags help provide protection in certain types of severe side impacts. The Avalon also features a driver’s knee airbag as standard equipment.
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is available with traction control (TRAC) and Brake Assist (ABS). VSC helps control side skids under demanding conditions by detecting and helping to correct loss of lateral traction during cornering. The VSC system integrates TRAC to help limit rear wheel spin on slippery road surfaces.
The Brake Assist system can help the driver take full advantage of the ABS in emergency situations. Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to activate the ABS, it applies maximum braking pressure until pedal pressure is released. The front seat-mounted side airbags have been redesigned to provide a greater coverage area, and the body structure has been strengthened to help meet the latest side impact standards. Front and rear side-curtain airbags help provide protection in certain types of severe side impacts. The Avalon also features a driver’s knee airbag as standard equipment.
Options available on XL and Touring grades include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, power moonroof, and anti-theft system. A 360-watt maximum output JBL Synthesis audio system with six-disc CD changer and 12 speakers is offered on Touring and XLS models. VSC and TRAC plus BA are available on XLS and Limited models. Limited models also offer Dynamic Laser Cruise Control.
Both driver and passengers can plot a course with the available navigation system using an eight-way switch and scroll lever. The navigation controls have surface emitting illumination and hide away above the gated shifter. Maps, climate and select audio controls are shown on the seven-inch active matrix color display located beneath the center air vents.
The Dynamic Laser Cruise Control system detects slower vehicles traveling ahead and decreases speed accordingly, and maintains a pre-selected distance between the preceding vehicle. Finally, the Dynamic Laser Cruise Control detects when the preceding vehicle changes driving lanes and increases the car to a pre-set speed.
The Remote Engine Starter (RES) is new to the Toyota brand and available on all Avalon grades equipped with the factory alarm system as a port- or dealer-installed option. Drivers may start the engine from a remote location by depressing a button on the key fob. After the engine has started, the climate control system will use the most recent settings to pre-heat the cabin on cold days or cool it down when the outside temperature is high. If the RES is used to start the car, the engine will shut off automatically for safety purposes when the vehicle is unlocked, after the doors are opened, when the key is inserted into the ignition lock cylinder, if the brake pedal is depressed, if the hood is opened, or if the shift lever is moved out of the “park” position. The vehicle must be restarted to drive away.
Toyota did a great job with the redesign of the Avalon; the new model gets slightly more modern styling and a beautiful interior — possibly the best I’ve seen in a non-luxury-brand Japanese car.