Ask people to name Toyota’s biggest sedan, and many will say Camry. They tend to forget that Toyota makes a full-size four-door, the Avalon. And that’s understandable, as sales numbers have never been huge. But, that’s not really unusual for a flagship sedan. Its job is to be the standard bearer of the brand. And, in Avalon’s case, to deliver lots luxury for a non-Lexus price. So let’s see if the all new Avalon continues to play its part…
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is the 4th generation of Toyota’s flagship. This time around is designed with a somewhat younger buyer in mind; packing additional performance, sleeker styling, more smartphone connectivity, and class-leading fuel economy for all to enjoy.
The huge lower grille is what catches your eye first, and that was intentional, as Toyota designers want you to know right away that this is a different Toyota, with a far more aggressive appeal than any Camry. In a nod to high tech, the Quadrabeam headlights feature twin square glass condenser lenses for both Halogen and HID bulbs, and LED DRL’s are available.
Toyota says the new Avalon is one of the best looking passenger cars they’ve ever designed. Well, we’re not about to go that far, but it does look about as radical as it can without losing all its appeal to current owners. Compared to last year, wheelbase is unchanged, but overall length is a bit less, making for shorter over hangs. It’s also lower and narrower, while track is wider. The long, sloping roofline and extended C-pillars give it the coupe-like look that is all the rage these days. Even the back end gets an aggressive look with LED tail lights set far apart and nicely integrated dual exhaust.
Moving inside, there’s a welcoming interior full of standard cow hide with hand stitching and wood trim. The theme is a mix of high craftsmanship and high tech, fitting perfectly below the also new Lexus ES350 which now shares its chassis, and room, with Avalon.
Now, you won’t confuse Avalon for a Bentley any time soon, but it is clearly a step up from previous generation Avalons. Seats are more than comfortable enough for the long trek down I-95, and the artistically shaped, wide-format instrument panel provides additional information on its Optitron and TFT displays. Steering wheel paddle shifters are available, again something that will appeal more to new, younger buyers than current ones. This Smart Phone eBin should appeal to the younger ones, too.
Though everyone will appreciate all the available upscale features like heated and cooled front seats, and power rear sun shade. Optional too are high-end safety features like Blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, along with both front knee and rear seat airbags. The rear seat is again almost limo-roomy. Tall adults will love it. The armrest still has a pass through, and although the bench doesn’t fold, trunk space is a reasonable 16-cubic feet.
Riding on a stiffer chassis, the new Avalon is certainly more responsive and has a much lighter overall feel, though weight is down only a few pounds. New trapezoidal links in the rear suspension allow for more tire grip, while stiffer front springs and stabilizer bar quicken turn-ins.
Under the hood is the same Camry 3.5-liter V6 as before, putting out its more than adequate 268-horsepower and 248 lb-ft. of torque. The Avalon Hybrid is new, however, using the Camry’ gas-electric Hybrid Synergy Drive hardware. The V6’s 6-speed automatic gains a taller final drive ratio, and new is ECU programming with ECO, Normal, and Sport driving modes.
Taken together Toyota expects Government Fuel Economy Ratings to improve to 21-City, 31-Highway, and 25-Combined on regular gas. Off the line reaction is improved as well, as Toyota claims a 0-60 time of under 7-seconds. The last Avalon that we tested took 6.9-seconds and we expect about the same here.
Prices have gone down, starting at $31,750. That’s 2-grand less than last year. Hybrids will begin at XLE Premium trim for $36,315.
Clearly the American made 2013 Toyota Avalon is not the geriatric snoozer that it once was. While its full-size stature will still limit appeal, you won’t necessarily have to have grandkids to find it fits your lifestyle. It’s stylishly aggressive, expertly comfortable, and high tech enough to break the Avalon’s AARP tradition. So, welcome to the new-world-order of Avalon.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Torque: 248 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.9-seconds
EPA: 21 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway