A heavily-discounted Lexus ES350 The Avalon might have a slightly geriatric stigma attached to it, but it’s become a seriously competitive vehicle.
The Toyota Avalon, being one of the flagship cars of the Toyota line up, has been a part of the team since 1994. When it came on the scene, it replaced the ever-so-great Cressida which was powered by the 7M-GE inline-6 which can also be found in the non-turbo version of the Supra MKIII.
Fast forward to present day and I’m getting into the new 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, painted in a stunning Cypress Green Metallic. This is the 4th generation model, first seen at the New York Auto Show in April of last year and then later became available for sale. This model is generously powered by a 2GR-FE 3.5 V6 which pumps out an impressive 268 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 248 LB/FT of torque at 4,700 RPM. This might sound like any other number to most drivers, but to me it was something to keep me interested during this week of driving what would probably have been my grandfather’s car.
I tried to imagine that I was actually in a Lotus Evora which uses the same motor, but the soft, cushy interior and smooth, quiet ride of the Avalon quickly destroyed that dream. Off the line, the new Avalon is seriously quick. Unfortunately, the tires that come standard with it have no grip whatsoever and with no effort, you can be squealing down the road like a kid who just got his license. The engine sounds really good too; I can safely say that this 3.5L is one of my favourite Toyota engines ever. When talking about a company that produced the 2JZ engines, that statement isn’t to be taken lightly.
For this generation, the Avalon shares its platform with the new Lexus ES, which I loved for the beautiful navigation system and easy-to-use audio system. Though the ES used to be based on the Camry platform, it has since grown up and in my eyes is now worthy of Lexus’ premium brand moniker. However, this is quite the opposite for the Avalon. The navigation screen looks like something from the past and the audio controls are quite difficult to use. It’s sad to admit it, but I was spoiled by the Chevrolet MyLink system in the Camaro. While the Avalon’s system does look very basic, it does what it needs to do especially considering it’s powering some nice-sounding JBL Synthesis speakers. The Synthesis is one of the best-sounding systems in mainstream cars.
One snag I found myself in on numerous occasions, which of course could have just been me, was that while I tried to increase the volume without using the steering controls and not taking my eyes off the road, I always ended up hitting the touch-sensitive climate control buttons with my palm in the process. Another note, while the Bluetooth connectivity is pretty good, the iPod surfing controls have some delays which could become extremely annoying.
Taking my colleagues out to lunch was no problem as there were no interior or legroom issues and the interior is very nice, soft and incorporates comfortable leather seating which was a bit bland but suitable when taking into consideration the target market. Though the Avalon might have a slightly geriatric stigma attached to it, it’s become a seriously competitive vehicle.
The exterior of the new Avalon is very nicely done. I love the new styling Toyota has adopted, but it still looks a lot like my image of a Camry on steroids. The LED headlights are a very nice touch; however the monster truck-like wheel gap is something I’m not a fan of as it actually takes away from the great looks of the factory 18” aluminum alloy wheels.
With a tested price of $41,850, the 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited seems to have everything you would expect from a premium vehicle, without the image associated with a luxury brand. Keep in mind, at that as-tested price, my Avalon was absolutely loaded. A similarly-equipped Lexus ES, which is essentially the same car, would run you back at least $10,000 more. If you are in the market for something that will get you from point A to point B in not only a fast way, but also backed by the reliability that Toyota is known for, there’s really no better choice on the market. The Chrysler 300 or the Ford Taurus, while offering all-wheel-drive, are definitely a step below the Avalon. Aren’t the Americans supposed to be good at offering big, comfortable land yachts?
2013 Toyota Avalon Limited Gallery