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.
The Avalon has been something of a caricature since it wafted on stage in 1994. The stretched Camry was low on soul, devoid of style and soft of spring. In short, it was the Buick that wouldn’t leave you stranded. Since then Toyota has struggled to divine a mission for their full size sedan, a problem complicated by the re-invigoration of the large sedan market by the American brands. In hopes of resurrecting sales numbers, which have slid to 25% of their 2000 year shipments, Toyota has injected something hitherto unseen in an Avalon: style. Is it enough?
Hey Sajeev and Steve,
Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall.
She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were still for sale. If you’re asking why she’s getting rid of it, there isn’t any particular reason. (Read More…)
Have you seen a more ghastly DLO (daylight opening) fail than the new Avalon? (note the nicely highlighted black plastic sections in the photo sent by the OP- SM)
Gather ’round the warm glow of your collective computer screens, let’s tell the tale of three Entry-Level Luxury Sedans of the year 2013 with very different DLOs. A tale with plastic triangles and fixed window panes told by me, but the ending lies at the end of the comment section. (Read More…)
Panthers get a lot of love here at TTAC, but my automotive soft spot is actually for big, softly sprung front-drive sedans. When I bought a brand-new Chrysler LHS back in 2000, I probably single-handedly dropped the average age of the LHS buyer by double digits. I can’t say exactly what the attraction was, but there’s something pleasing about wafting around in a big, smooth sedan with just enough get-up-and-go. Around the same time as Chrysler attacked the large front driver market with the LH platform, Toyota was getting into the full-size arena with the Avalon.
But, just as the LHS tended to live in the shadow of the 300M, Toyota’s full-size model has always suffered from its little brother’s success: the Avalon never stood out enough to tempt buyers away from the (none too cramped) Camry and its smaller price tag. Now, tackling Buick, Ford and Hyundai rather than Chrysler for the large FWD sedan market, Toyota has given the Avalon a thorough going-over with the goal of distancing the near-luxo-barge from its mass-market cousin. But will this makeover help the “forgotten Toyota” reclaim some spotlight? (Read More…)
Hyundai and Toyota have done the math, and they know Americans almost always prefer big, crude and comfortable over slick, trim and stylish. In hopes Impala-ing this fat part of the mid-sized sedan market, Toyota and Hyundai have refreshed their Avalon and Azera sedans for 2011, and the results are… well, frankly, we can’t tell.