When I think of Toyotas I think of models like the top-selling Camry, the popular RAV4, Corolla and their big Tundra truck. Those are all solid vehicles. But sometimes I forget Toyota makes a nice sedan with a lot of room and unique styling. One that edges pretty close to its upmarket Lexus brand. That would be the Avalon.
This mid-size vehicle debuted in the U.S. back in 1994 and is currently in its fourth generation. It is Toyota’s largest front-wheel drive sedan and packs a good punch with a 3.5-liter V-6 6-speed automatic engine. Available paddle-shift controls on the steering wheel give it a more hands-on experience when you shift. It also sounds cool when the engine revs up.
Though it can hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds I found its bestselling point to be the roomy interior. The Avalon is 16 feet long so parking it may take some practice but that large frame comfortably holds 5 adults.
The front row sports a nicely sculpted dashboard, some classy stitching and nice textures around the infotainment screen. Seat comfort and driving position are decent, and a simple gauge cluster faces the driver.
Toyota’s infotainment system takes the form of a 7-inch touchscreen with some redundant buttons. Navigation is available on higher-end models but they all have standard features like Bluetooth, auxiliary input, USB and voice command.
Small-item storage bins and trunk volume make this class-competitive as a family car. You can’t fold down the rear seat to add capacity but the center armrest flips down for a pass-through to the trunk. It holds 5 carry-on suitcases in the trunk or a few sets of golf clubs. In total there is 16 cubic feet of cargo volume back there.
On the outside, the Avalon makes a statement with its standout grille – a bit of a slack-jawed look that reminds me of a sheepish grin. A sloping roofline and the multicolored wraparound tail lamps give it a dash of sophistication. It has standard 17-inch wheels, chrome detailing, and integrated exhaust tips add to the elegance.
I have always said that Toyota has some of the best safety features and the Avalon comes equipped with the company’s Safety Sense package. A backup camera is standard along with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. There at ten airbags including driver and front passenger knee bags.
The 2018 Avalon starts at $33,500 with the XLE model then progresses up with more features to the XLE Plus, XLE Premium, and the Touring versions. The Limited version begins at $41,300 and it also comes in three hybrid trims.
Toyota is set to release the all-new 2019 version later this spring with a fresh look and – wait for it – Apple CarPlay, something the company has shied away from in the past. In the meantime, the current models may be priced right as they make way for the new fifth generation.