KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The Avalon is Toyota's flagship sedan. One step above the popular Camry, the full-size Avalon offers a generous interior packed with so much luxury many owners consider the car to be almost Lexus-like. Entering what has long been the domain of the big three automakers, the Avalon offers full-size car buyers a modern, front-wheel-drive sedan with an impeccable history of excellent service, outstanding quality and best-in-class resale. Beyond its solid engineering attributes, the Avalon also offers customers a powerful yet fuel-efficient V6 engine, a huge and easily accessible trunk and a sense of style not found in traditional full-sized sedans, such as the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you need ample rear-seat space, Toyota promotes the Avalon's new "tunnel-less flat-floor design," which translates to rear-seat roominess. And if your financial future is a high priority, the Avalon gives you Lexus-quality materials at a price (and resale value) that says Toyota all the way.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The new Avalon loses its front bench-seat option, so if you need seating capacity above five, it's not found here. Also, younger shoppers might shun the Avalon because of its older-owner image.
What's Significant About This Car?
All models receive a tire pressure monitoring system, while the Touring trim now offers an optional navigation system.
In its new form, the Avalon has a personality even more distinct from the Camry, along with Lexus-like attributes. On good roads, the ride is generally smooth. Still, the relatively taut suspension yields considerable harshness when encountering certain bumps and holes. Acceleration is sufficiently assertive, but the Avalon feels like a heavy automobile.
Though not up to European sport-sedan levels, an Avalon handles with some agility and responsive steering. An abundant glass area helps with overall visibility. Side bolstering is modest, but the seats are supportive and nicely cushioned. Rear headroom is so-so, but leg space is abundant and the reclining seats are helpful.
Seat-mounted airbags, side-curtain airbags and a knee airbag for the driver are standard on all models. Stability control is an option.
Reclining Rear Seatbacks
Standard on all Avalons, the five-position rear-seat recliners adjust from a 25 to 35-degree seatback angle.
Spacious and handsome, the Avalon looks inviting and feels comfortable. Extra width gives occupants another inch of shoulder space. Instruments are large and symmetrical, though smaller readouts are harder to see. Lustrous, generously designed woodgrain on high-end models helps make the dashboard attractive and distinctive. The glovebox is large, but sits low. A pushbutton starter is included with the Limited trim. You don't even have to hold the button in, just push and release. To entice younger buyers, the Touring model has a unique interior with a sportier charcoal dashboard trim.
As promised, this four-door sedan looks different enough from the Camry to attract a separate set of customers. Details count. Wide-opening doors have three-stage door checks to ease entry and exit. The back doors open wideto almost 90 degrees. Jointless flat windshield-wiper blades are half the usual thickness, and are said to ensure even pressure and reduce wind turbulence. Limited sedans have rain-sensing wipers and an acoustically-dampening windshield. Each trim level has its own wheel pattern: 16-inch for the XL and 17-inch for other models.
Notable Standard Equipment
All Avalons use a five-speed automatic transmission. Anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) incorporate Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Steering wheel-mounted audio controls and dual-zone climate control are standard. Seat comfort is enhanced by reclining rear seatbacks and adjustable-length front cushions. Perforated leather upholstery and a moonroof are included in the Limited. The Touring model has leather-surfaced bucket seats and high-intensity discharge headlamps. All models include front seat side-impact airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is available for all trim levels. Touring, XLS and Limited models offer a GPS navigation system with voice recognition that responds to 200 commands, and Dynamic Laser Cruise Control lets you set the preferred distance you wish to maintain from the vehicle ahead. Three radios are available, including a JBL Synthesis 360-watt system with 12 speakers. Urban Avalon owners might be wary of it, but the dealer-installed remote engine starter works from up to 80 feet away and lets the engine run for up to ten minutes.
Under the Hood
The Avalon's V6 may easily qualify as the best in the business. It's so silent at idle that glancing at the hovering tachometer needle is the only way to be sure the engine is actually running. Power for passing and merging is excellent, as are the seamless shifts offered up by the five-speed automatic transmission. Despite its ample size and quick acceleration, the Avalon possesses fuel economy figures comparable to some four-cylinder economy cars.
268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31
The Avalon XL has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $27,495, while the Touring is $29,745, the XLS is $31,945 and the Limited is $34,685. The Avalon's popularity is going to make dealing somewhat difficult, as evidenced by the figures shown on the Fair Purchase Price page. Typical transaction prices for the Avalon sit just a few hundred dollars below MSRP. Before you set off to purchase, check out the most recent Fair Purchase Prices for any change in the Avalon's sales pattern. Over a five-year period, the Avalon is expected to retain exemplary residual and resale values, slightly better than the Buick Lucerne, and far better than the Ford Five-Hundred and the Chrysler 300 Touring.