By on August 5, 2013

2013av

Atlanta can be somewhat of a rental car wasteland. Less than two years ago, the lots were still primarily populated by a sea of dingy Mercury Grand Marquises. (Yeah, yeah, Panther Love, whatever.) Nowadays, the unhappy renter-to-be is usually confronted by seemingly endless rows of 2.5S Altimas and Jeep Compasses. Shudder. So it was with this expectation that I entered the ATL garage again, and I was not disappointed — zero-option Altimas as far as the eye could see, with a Silverado pickup mixed in here and there. A fellow business traveler walked up to the rental car company rep as I was surveying the landscape and moaned, “Is this really all you have?”

While he was complaining, I was hunting. Obscured by the hulking mass of a Silvy was a brand-spanking new, moderately-redesigned-for-2013, black Toyota Avalon — in XLE spec, no less! I damn near RAN over to it, opened the door, and jumped inside before Mr. Complainer knew what hit him.

“Not bad,” I said to myself as I surveyed the psuedo-leather and plasti-wood of the dash. The seats seemed comfortable, if not terribly supportive. The large screen of the infotainment system was impressive (for now, anyway). Plenty of room in the back seat for whatever (or whomever). I tossed my Tumi carry-on in the back, plugged my phone in via the USB jack, and push-button started my way out of the garage.

That’s roughly where my enjoyment of the car ended.

Let’s start with the infotainment system. It was awful. It was neither feature-rich enough to be interesting nor simple enough to be useful. Bark’s rule of car stereo systems goes like this-if I have to read a manual to use it, I’m already over it like Katherine McPhee. There was a bizarre coupling of touchscreen-only functions and dedicated “real” controls, none of which did what you think they would. Some of the trip computer information appeared here, and some of it appeared in the instrument cluster, with no rhyme or reason as to why. Bluetooth pairing was relatively painless, which was good because the car refused to recognize that anything was plugged into the USB port, despite the fact that my phone was receiving a charge from said port.

Audio quality ranged from “Poor” to “Lousy” on the Karaoke Revolution grading scale. Turning up the bass (which requires a degree in electrical engineering, a solid evening in the company of the owners’ manual, or a willingness to press ALL the buttons in EVERY possible order) had no effect whatsoever on the Avalon’s ability to thump out Party Rock. Luckily, this also meant that no apologies would be required.

Next up on my list of annoyances-the lumbar support system. One four-direction button that controlled upper and lower back lumbar support. I never did get this one right. I think one button released all the air from all three areas at once and the other three pushed air into them one at a time. This made for an infuriating experience-if I got one of the three just a little bit wrong, I had to start all over again (#firstworldproblems). Eventually, I just decided to deflate the entire seat and go without.

Visibility from the driver’s seat of an Avalon can be described as “Camaro-like.” The windshield has a very steep and un-Toyota-like slope, which meant that there was a very narrow seat height sweet spot where I could see over the steering wheel without brushing my head on the ceiling. I’m 5’9″, which has to be within the average height of Avalon “intenders”, so this amounts to sloppy engineering.

There was, however, one thing about the Avalon that I absolutely loved. Some rather bizarre circumstances that would seem more appropriate to be related in the “Sunday Not Entirely Fiction Stories” section of this website meant that I was going to have to put a LOT of miles on the Toyota. As I racked up mile after mile on the odometer, the gas needle just never seemed to move. When I made my first stop after one hundred eighty miles, I needed less than five gallons. Apparently, the Avalon had been not-quite-party-rocking along the highway at eighty miles per hour to the tune of about thirty-five miles a gallon, even better than the EPA highway estimate of 31 MPG. In fact, after I actually figured out how the trip computer worked, I was able to surmise at the end of the trip I had averaged 32.2 MPG of blended driving over three days. Big mileage numbers for a big car like this, no matter how you look at it.

The driving experience of this car can best be described as numb. Road noise is at a minimum, feedback through the pedals is vague at best, lateral grip is underwhelming and pushy. While it’s perfect for, say, a seven-hour cruise control drive down I-95 that starts at 0100 hours, it’s not going to light anybody on fire when compared to several of the other options at this price point, such as a Dodge Charger R/T.

Which leads one to ask: what exactly is the Toyota Avalon, and who on Earth is supposed to buy it? It’s part of that no-man’s land of “not-quite-flagship FWD sedans,” like the Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Azera, Chevy Impala…I’m sorry, I fell asleep there for a second. It has a 268 HP, 3.5 liter V6 with a manufacturer’s stated 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds, which is considerably faster than a lot of performance cars (like Toyota’s own FR-S), but it certainly doesn’t feel anywhere near that quick behind the wheel. In rental-car trim, it stickers out at $31,800, but can be optioned up for press-tester Limited trim at $42K plus, dangerously close to cars that are much, much more interesting (Super Bee, anyone?). The Avalon has long had a reputation as being this retiree generation’s Buick-safe, reliable, and completely boring. I’m sorry to say that, despite much improved sales numbers, this Avalon won’t do much to change that impression.

When I dropped the Avalon off at the rental car garage, I felt much like Pierce Brosnan’s version of James Bond in The World is Not Enough did when he placed his PPK against Renard’s bullet-scarred head — in other words, I felt nothing. No anger at the car, no joy in having experienced it, no remorse in having to leave it behind. If that’s how you’d like to feel about making a $500+ car payment every month, the 2013 Toyota Avalon is for you. If you’d like to feel something, go another direction.

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81 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Flying “Avalon Class”? Chances Are You’re Pre-Boarding Due To Age And/Or Infirmity...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I didn’t think Toyotas went to rental car agencies?

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      Not just going to rental car companies. The Camry and Prius seem to be the choice of taxi drivers now too.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        Fusion hybrid is becoming the choice in DC metro, though Camry hybrid and Prius still clock in. At least on the Virgnia side of the river where car quality is actually regulated.

        On the MD and DC side, it’s a lot of private vehicles. I’ve seen late 90′s Buicks (not bad), late 90′s Suburbans’ (ehhh) and I kid you not, a couple mid 90′s Nissan Sentra’s (???). The small ones, with no trunk space. Twice I told them to take the next person in line while I waited for something more comfortable than, ‘not at all’.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ve never seen (noticed) an Avalon on a rental lot, but definitely have been stuck with more than one Yaris and Corolla in recent times.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        As I noted above go to a National lot at almost any major airport and there will be a herd of them. On the shuttle bus you’ll see signage pumping them as a premium rental (if it is a National shuttle and not a generic airport bus to a rental “center”)

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Like Jack, I’ve had several Camrys as rentals… both SE and LE trim. I prefer the Charger as a rental but am eagerly waiting a new Fusion just to be sure I made the right choice by ultimately getting an Accord over the Ford (I’m thinking I did).

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      They do. I used to get assigned Tercels in the olden days. In the last five years, I’ve gotten a Solara convertible(when I reserved a Mustang convertible – hated the Solara, lousy fuel mileage and no power, tiny rear windshield and rear seat headrests equal no rear visibility). I’ve had two Camrys from Hertz, that with big gas tank and interstate driving gave 500 plus mile intervals for refueling, very happy with that. For me, the king of rental assortment is Hertz at LAX and Ontario, Calif. Pretty much, if you saw it on the road to the airport, you might see it in their rental lots, and what they show available online is sometimes only 70 percent of what you’ll find when you actually get to the location. As with other rental companies, being a regular and steady customer of theirs will get them to offer you more choices. Be reasonable and polite but firm when you reach the counter. And don’t just accept the first car they offer unless you’ll be absolutely OK with it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        You’re a Hertz guy, but I’m partial to Enterprise as they seem to have more interesting cars available. I’ve gotten, Mini’s, Fiat 500s, v-8 300s, Camaros, Avalons, Infinity G37x, Infinity M, Infinify FX, Mercedes, Titanium Focuses, even a Jag back a few years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          As it happens, I walked into Enterprise this morning. Our insurance company rented us a car for the two days our 2006 Audi has to go into the body shop to fix the hood somebody bent by backing into it while parked. I was sleepy and off the rental game for a while. Before I knew what was going on, I found myself sitting in a base Versa.

          I panicked a little, then cried a little.

          Ultimately, my wife declared it a totally acceptable ride at its price point and fuel economy. I agree, AS LONG AS IT IS CATEGORIZED AS SOME SORT OF A SCOOTER.

          Biggest surprise was my lack of objection to the CVT.

          • 0 avatar
            cfclark

            I had the Enterprise version of the Versa for a couple of days recently in a similar situation. Awful, awful car. Deafeningly loud to drive just from the road noise.

            I have seen Avalons at National a couple of times, but in my usualy travels to the PNW, I see mostly a pile of Chevys that no one seems to want, and then Maximas, Altimas and Sonatas. I’m on my 4th straight Sonata this week. Why Sonatas? They always have Sirius/XM, which really helps preserve my sanity considering I often get stuck in small towns on this project. I usually leave it on the “Raw Dog” uncensored comedy channel for the next renter. :D

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      National actively markets that Avalon as a premium rental in airports, shuttle buses, etc etc

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Basically sums up my opinion about the entire class of full-size sedans. I just don’t feel anything for them, so I may as well spend a whole lot less on a midsize sedan. Aside from the 300 and Charger, it’s kind of a numb, flavorless segment with high price tags. 35 mpg is impressive, though. Hate seeing numbers like that when I have a 2.5 Jetta.

    Despite the Altima 2.5S being ubiquitous and universally painted in rental-grade white or silver, I respect it. We’ve been shopping for a 3-year old heavily-depreciated midsize sedan to replace a cramped and loud econobox, and the Altima has a pretty good blend of handling, power, and noise suppression for a base 4-banger sedan. Thought I would hate the CVT until I drove it back-to-back with a 2012 Fusion with that sluggard of an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      mies

      I’m not too surprised by the highway fuel economy on the Avalon. I had 2005 LeSabre that I could get 35MPG on road trips. The sticker stated 30MPG. I maintained it well, followed the posted speed, and took advantage of any opportunies to coast. Good fuel economy is totally possible with a big car, you just have to be conscientious.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Avalon seems quite a bit less self-conscious than the Azera, less ostentatious than the 300 and Charger, less of a general dog than the Taurus, and far more purposeful than the Maxima. Still, I think that the 2014 Impala may give it a run for its money.

    • 0 avatar
      Caboose

      Agreed. I think that the new Impala is now the car to beat in the full-sized, consumer-grade class.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        A 95 from Consumer Reports can’t just be ignored…

        It also looks way better than the Taurus.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          Everything I’ve read and seen about the Taurus make me wonder why anybody would ever buy one.

          Also, the Azera has an impressively nice interior, especially for the price. It’s a tad on the small side, but it is one of the few Hyundais still assembled in Korea, so that makes sense.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I agree, I’ve yet to see an attractive Taurus. Damned thing looks like a CUV with its upright bodywork and huge wheels…

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            I wasn’t even talking about the looks. Every competitor to the Taurus can be had with more stuff for less money, and even then the options sheet on the Taurus compared to, say the Azera or the LaCrosse is embarassingly bare.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Agreed. I saw my first 2014 in the wild and it is MUCH better looking in person than in pictures. I’ve noticed that with other cars that don’t seem to photograph well but look better in 3D. The only thing meh was the rear clip.

        • 0 avatar
          Slave2anMG

          Consumer Reports gives ANYTHING Toyota at least 70 right out of the box. ‘yota honks, indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        Driving a ’14 Impala now, and love love love it. Only thing missing is the torque of a Hemi 300/Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      I feel sick looking at the hideous styling of this car. Toyota never has heard of “form follows function” or Bauhaus. The 300, Charger, LaCrosse and Impala all look fuctional and well tailored compared to this over the top styled nasty-mobile. Whats with the 2 grilles? Another “mock air vent” from Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Thank you! I can’t understand the above comments when everyone I’ve pointed it out to think it’s hideous. The front is like an enraged fish and the back is a completely unsubtle and incomplete mercedes knock off. This car reminds me of the older Kia Amante’s beer-goggles attempt at looking like a real car.

        That being said, a google search of the interior does look pretty nice.

        • 0 avatar
          tuffjuff

          The Avalon’s grill shape is here to stay. Folks who say it looks like a fish boggle my mind, but hey, I guess that’s why some people buy Camries and others buy…. anything else on the road, right?

      • 0 avatar
        watermeloncup

        Agreed! This looks like an uglier version of the Hyundai Sonata.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      I just saw a new Kia Cadenza in the flesh last week, parked next to its kissing cousin the Azera. The Cadenza is a VERY sharp-looking car, probably the best looking one in the segment IMO. Impressive.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    XLE is the base model Avalon. There are XLE premium, XLE touring, and limited models all above it. The radio you have is the “display audio” unit which is the base model touchscreen radio. I’ve used it in a Camry LE before and while the sound is not very good, I found it super easy to use via bluetooth audio streaming and USB with my iPhone 5. When using it via USB, it is incredibly easy to find songs or artists through the head unit and it even shows album artwork. What phone were you trying to use?

    Your gas mileage experience mirrors my 12 hrs in a Camry LE. I beat the 35mpg highway rating with ease averaging 36 over the emergency trip from WV to NC and back for work (i.e. I wasn’t slow poke driving like I do when I pay for the gas).

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Hence the danger of the “poverty” spec rental grade model. They form negative views with the trim. I would have thought XLE in Toyota-speak was top or near top trim too.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        XLE basically means “leather, moonroof, and smartkey standard” in Toyota-speak. You can expect an XLE spec’d Camry to have the same level of equipment as an XLE Venza or XLE Avalon. Same as an LE Venza is similarly spec’d to an LE Camry. If you want all the bells and whistles, you need to step up to a Limited… which isn’t available as a trim in the Camry. It lets you have a pretty decent idea of the equipment level just based on the trim. Corolla and Yaris top trims are the LE, for example, which would have comparable equipment to a Camry LE. Basically, L, LE, XLE, and Limited all mean about the same thing regardless of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    One of the challenges for the new Avalon is that there is so much competition, not just from the new cars that Bark mentioned, but from well-kempt, you-would-be-the-third-owner, used luxury cars.

    You can buy cream-puff Lexus LS460s all day long at $25-30k, and LS430s for under $20k. Consider that the demograph for Avalon and LS is about the same, just with another comma in the checking account.

    But an eight-year-old LS430 with all dealer service and 100k speed-limit-on-the-freeway miles is probably a fine idea. eBay has four of those right now. And that is why the Avalon represents poor value for money.

    Unless, like Bark, fuel economy is a big deal in your personal calculus.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Avalon’s pricing really isn’t out of line with that of the competition, though I do think there is an issue with the ever-growing prices of the full-sized category as a whole. Furthermore, you can always pose the question of “Should I go with the older luxurious car…or the shiny new one?”…especially with the European automakers, whose resale values mostly drop like boulders relative to the prices-as-new.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      So you are comparing an 8-yo Lexus with 100k miles to a new Avalon and declaring the Avalon a poor value? That is a really old car, I wouldn’t consider that an alternative to a brand new Avalon no matter how nice it is. I would guess that most people looking at a new Avalon don’t care about the badge and want a new car rather than someone else’s used car too.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I basically had this exact scenario, and went with a high mileage LS430 that looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor.

      I wanted a big vehicle, and I dislike SUVs. An Avalon that was only a few years old was surprisingly expensive, and a new one with options like leather was nearly $40k out the door.

      The amount of repair and maintenance difference was a negligible amount, and LS’s are almost always well taken care of. It was an easy decision.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Not to mention the Avalon is surprisingly cramped considering they’ve made it “larger” (larger than what, a Corolla?) and the insides are incredibly cheap. Fun fact: the Toyota Avalon has the cheapest-feeling, least supportive seats I’ve ever seen in an automobile.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    a guy down the street from me has an avalon and likes it quite a bit. Admittedly, he’s retired and drives about 40 mph with the blinker left on, so probably not the best case example. Still, the idea that we abuse cars for being favored by the elderly forces me to ask the question: Are there any cars explicitly marketed towards the elderly? They do tend to stray affluent from time to time(or not, based on Scion demographics). What is the most popular vehicle to buy when you know your next ride is gonna have nice woodwork and a satin lining?

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Exactly.

      If you ask the Avalon’s engineers, they’ll tell you they’re desperately trying to market the car to people *without* AARP memberships, and they’re also quick to point out how much “sportier” the new Avalon is in comparison with the old one.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If you look at the print advertising Avalon, (new) Impala, LaCrosse, Azerea, etc. are being marketed squarely at that AARP crowd. Of course you could argue that it is because print media is dead and the only people reading print media are 55 plus but I’d think that was a false conclusion personally. Who are you going to market $40K sedans to? 18 year old kids?

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I had a previous Avalon as a rental once. Hopefully Toyota put more brakes on it to go with that V6 in the redesign. I put my foot into it and was shocked by how fast it took off. Then traffic slowed quickly and it was unpleasant how it braked. Not enough for the mass or the admittedly too much speed I was carrying. And the dive was something I haven’t seen since driving my in laws 2000 Crown Vic or 98 Lesabre.

    But then again, I guess the usual Avalon buyer won’t be planting their foot at 65 mph and need to reduce their speed abruptly. It did wonderful for highway cruising and being stuck in Chicago city traffic. That’s it intended mission, a serene pensioner carrier for those who don’t want a Lexus badge or a German marque.

    Fuel mileage is impressive though. Infotainment not so much.

  • avatar
    jmo

    To second what Gearhead77 said, I had one of these for a rental a while back and wow, it’s amazing how fast cars like this are today.

    The following week I had V-8 300 and if you wait till you’re going 10-15mph then hit the gas, it will slam your head against the seat back so hard it hurts and will LUNGE down the road.

    I’ve driven manual transmission M roadsters, M5s and 911 and they didn’t offer nearly the same sensation of power. I’m thinking it has to do with the automatic and the gearing and tourque converter.

  • avatar

    Last month I took a friend shopping for an Avalon. It would have cost her $470 to lease for 3 years.
    I had her cross shop the Avalon. FULLY LOADED – cost $425 a month.

    Azera looks better, has better headroom and front seat space and feels like a premium product. The Toyota was bland and BORING.

    youtube.com/watch?v=DUuPu_kxN-Y

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I think you mean she cross-shopped the Azera.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The Azera has a fantastic interior, and you truly can get one for $36k loaded, assuming no rebates. The last time I was at my local Hyundai dealership, they had $2k on the hood, so you’re paying $34k for a vehicle that can easily match a ~$40-45k ES350 for equipment and perceived quality.

      The only problem I had with the Azera was it was on the smaller side of things for a full sized car, and the exterior looks are a tad disappointing. The rear is lovely, but most of the rest of the car screams “look at my common Hyundai Sonata” unless you know what details to look for, to differentiate them.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    How disappointing.

    As with people, if the terrible cars were also ugly, we could easily spot them.

    Fortunately, reviewers like this can save us from ‘marrying’ one for $500/month for 6 years.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Is it so hard to believe that there are great numbers of buyers out there that don’t care at all if their car is interesting??

    Two people in my company drive Avalons, one is a salesman and the other is the office manager. Both told me basically the same thing, they wanted a car that was nice and comfortable without being ostentatious in any way. Both are repeat Avalon buyers too. Toyotas, whether you like it or not, are still considered to be universally reliable and to have high resale value. If you don’t care about cars and just blindly shop Toyota, this is your full sized car.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The people I know who drive Avalon are pretty much the same way too.

      They got started with Corolla at some time in the distant past, moved up to Camry and have now moved up yet again to Avalon.

      But if they are financially able, those who can usually move up to Lexus since the Avalon is basically a fattened Camry with pretenses.

      One thing I have also noted is that I have never seen a person younger than let’s say 55 drive a Camry. Just old codgers and old biddies.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Hah! Another weird experience with WordPress.

        After posting this comment I went to edit it to insert the words “porked-up” before Camry in the last line and WordPress told me

        “You are not authorized to edit this comment”

        Hmmmmmmmmmmm…….

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I got just a little heartburn reading this article and the comments. I have been driving about 55 years which makes me older than most of you. I can tell you how one feels about cars when they have reached 70 and beyond: just about the same as you.

    I think we become a little more risk aversive as we are normally on a fixed income but my taste in cars is much as it was 30 years ago. I have developed a taste for vans and trucks but that taste is over 30 years old as well. That is probably in most of my fellow readers wheelhouses. I realize that everyone is different and I think that is important to remember. Also important is that there will be stereotypes practiced by almost everyone and that is something I try to avoid. To fit that stereotype I do like panthers and camry’s because of the function. I think today is the day I start the resurrection of my 57 Chev. Not for everyone.

    Well that is it from geezerland as it’s time for my nap. It’s always time for my nap.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      To back-up this comment, I’m 27 and I can’t wait to slip into something more floaty and “old man-ish” – it’s like Buick exists to cater to my type. I love the idea of a serene ride.

    • 0 avatar

      Ageism is a scourge of many industries, not just blog comments.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      At 63, and the happy owner of a Scion xB (little box), I’ve come to the realization that I’m not buying something that small again. Oh, it’s a hoot on the back roads, good economy, well built, and fun to drive . . . but it’s nothing I’d want to take on a 500 mile trip. And my situation in life has turned around that I’m going to be doing pleasure trips again for the first time in seven years.

      So it means something with an automatic, and probably Buick-ish. Something comfortable, somewhat plush, hopefully low 30′s on the highway. If I want more, I’ll go hybrid. And no, I’m not ossifying into left-blinker-forever senility.

      There’s still two Triumphs, a Harley, and a Solstice sitting in the garage. I still love to drive. I’m just not willing to put up with hard driver’s cars all the time anymore.

  • avatar
    Acd

    This ought to be a Buick.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Very impressive fuel mileage.

    Though why the aversion against testing the silverado?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Outstanding mileage. How ’bout that HUGE upside down Aston grill? The one below the smaller Camry grill.

  • avatar

    What would you expect from a car named after a mythical island?

  • avatar
    seth111976

    As someone who actually paid money for a (used, with less than 30,000 miles) 2008 Toyota Avalon Limited–in beige no less–I should explain why you buy an Avalon.

    Most likely, because you’re old and want something large, comfy, and reliable. Most other Avalons I see are driven by these folks. Buick used to be the go to make for this, but GM’s reliability reputation as caught up with them.

    The other reason is why I bought it: The back seat. The 2008 Avalon has 40.9″ of rear leg room, and an essentially flat rear floor. There is acres of space back there. For me, at 6’1″ tall with two small children in car seats, it has all the room my family needs to haul everyone and everything around.

    As an anecdote, my daughter moved up to a rear-facing convertible seat last weekend. After installation, I moved the front seat back to see how far it could go before it touched my daughter’s seat. The front seat ran out of travel before they came together.

    In conjunction with the back seat is the Avalon being the perfect car for the highway. Comfy leather chairs, heated/cooled front seats, a serious HVAC unit, quiet cabin, smooth ride, rear-power sun shade, and the JBL sound system is excellent. Some of those features (cooled seats, sun shade) are only available on the Limited trim, which is why I specifically sought that level out.

    Is it sporty? No, it isn’t. While the 3.5L V6 is stout and will get you moving in a hurry, it’s still a heavy front drive car, with noticeable body roll when pushed in a corner, and a transmission that tries to get to sixth gear as fast as possible and really doesn’t like to downshift. For me that’s OK, because when I’m behind the wheel I have a wife to my right, two children behind, and three hours of highway ahead of me.

    That is why you buy an Avalon. Otherwise, you’ll probably be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’m not 6’1″, but I 100% agree. If Toyota would turn this into a wagon (and not a jacked up CUV like the Venza), I wouldn’t have given the Prius v a 2nd thought. The 2.5L hybrid drivetrain in the Avalon is a peach; powerful, efficient, quiet. The interior space is fantastic and the rear seats are huge. I have a 1 year old and the v fits a rear facing convertible seat well, but it definitely doesn’t give you a ton of space to stretch out up front.

    • 0 avatar
      waltercat

      I think Seth nailed it. Let’s see – it’s roomy, comfortable, silent, fast, economical and trouble-free. Gee, who would own a car like that?

      It doesn’t handle like a Lotus or street-race like a Camaro. But – as someone pointed out – just who are you selling $35-40K cars to? There’s a very limited market for high-performance large sedans – Toyota is wise to short-change that very small segment.

      The Avalon (along with the Azera) is on my short list for replacing my beloved Acura TL when the time comes.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    It looks entirely too noticable.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    How does the infotainment on this car differ from other Toyota products? I’ve rented a Camry (in L, LE, and SE trim) and a Prius (in base form), and all had some variation of the same infotainment (standard, not upgraded), which I was extremely impressed with. I never needed a manual to figure it out, and the sound quality, especially in the Camry, was extremely impressive. I recently had a Ford Taurus Limited with the upgraded Sony sound system, and I thought the Camrys and Prius all sounded better.

  • avatar
    Kenichi Mifune

    Boring. Absolutely boring.

    Looks like all auto journalists in the U.S. get paid to write the same things about Toyotas, which unfortunately, we have to read over and over again.

    I’d really like to see a more creative way of Toyota bashing some day.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Probably the only person who could write something interesting about an Avalon is the late Hunter Thompson. And he’d be spending damned little time about the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Don’t worry, I didn’t pay him. If you want to read something that is different about Toyotas, we have that too:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/review-toyota-camry-se-2-5l-track-tested/

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Seriously. Same old drivel. Alex Dykes had a great review on the Avalon though, and didn’t spout the tired cliché “this car is boring, therefore the sheep that bought it must be too. Buy this American car, it’s not boring”

  • avatar
    pb35

    I spent a week visiting family on Long Island last month. The conversation at the Budget counter went like this (I reserved a Taurus):

    -Would you like to upgrade to a base 328i (silver) for only $700 more? Um, no thanks.

    -How about a base Challenger R/T (red) for only $300 more? “Very nice, low miles” said the agent. Hell no, I have a hemi Charger R/T in my garage at home. I would burn the tires off the rims on a rental.

    I took the Taurus, a Limited model. It was nice but it took me 3 days to figure out how to adjust the bass as well. Sigh.

    It was so great to get back in my own car.

  • avatar
    JD321

    You didn’t use the word “Interesting” enough.

    32 MPG is , umm, interesting.

  • avatar
    DougYNDOT

    After 13 years, we had to replace my wife’s car, a 2001 Aurora V8 that was generating strange noises and smells.

    It was her turn to pick the car, and I was relegated to the role of Powertrain Consultant. We did shop the Avalon. Her response: Yecch! Hard seats, hard plastics, so-so nav system, no pizzaz. Unremarkable when driving.

    She ended up with a 300C (Hemi). Glorious car, super comfy, super power and great price for the segment.

    A note on Dealerships: we went to 8 dealerships in the Detroit Metro area, and only 4 (that’s FOUR!!) actually followed up with us after our visit. You would think if you showed up ready to spend over $30k on a car they might try to call.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude I hate when dealerships do that. Their job is to let me drive the car and answer questions, and not pester me on the phone. We have enough of telemarketing scum for that, no need for car salespersons to join in.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Hmmmm, there’s an IMMENSE 73 Chrysler for sale in my area. For that money, I could get that, yank the 440, and drop in a 5.7L Hemi. I’d get the same driving experience, and strike fear in the heart of anyone foolish enough to venture into my path.


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