Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: February 18, 2016
My clearest memory of the Toyota Avalon was from a 2010 TV Spot. Toyota, with the help of fake airline pilots (and stewardesses), compared the quiet and smooth ride of the Avalon to flying in an airplane. I’m not quite sure why that particular advertisement resonated with me – probably because Toyota just publicly admitted to how sanitized the Avalon’s driving experience was. Nevertheless, the world’s largest automaker must be on to something, as the Avalon is now on its fourth iteration.
Face-lifted in 2015, the new Avalon received minor changes to its styling, resulting in something dramatically different from its predecessor. The happy-go-lucky gaping maw in the previous Avalon has been retooled to be larger (if that was even possible), and the smile was turned upside down, making it look like a shark swimming with its mouth open.
Other alterations to the front fascia include a set of LED vertical daytime running lights in lieu of fog lights, and LED headlights for improved visibility at night. Sadly there isn’t an option for adaptive lights like the more expensive German rivals. The rear end hasn’t been forgotten either as the tail lamps get the LED treatment too.
The rest of the exterior design essentially remains the same, which isn’t a bad thing. The Avalon is a sleek looking car, and the minor changes help unravel a more aggressive and appealing side of the luxury sedan.
Back in the day, the Avalon was restricted to only one trim level: fully loaded. But times have changed and it now features three trim levels: XLE, Limited Standard Package, and Limited Premium Package. The latter is what this Parisian Night Pearl tester has been outfitted with. The chrome details look chintzy at first, however once the sun sets, the paint really razzes up the car with looks befitting (almost) of a Lexus.
Inside, the Avalon remains untouched. A palette of luxurious materials greets occupants: leather, wood, and aluminum. Regrettably, the effect of the swank-ified cabin experience was diminished by the steering wheel lifted straight from something much cheaper in the Toyota lineup.
It isn’t the wheel itself that is bad – it features thick padding and premium smelling leather (yes, I did smell the steering wheel). What ruins it is the piece of hard plastic found on the third spoke. Worse still is the fact that other Toyotas have it painted aluminum. When all is said and done, the entire experience felt like the company wanted to distinctively draw the line between Toyota and Lexus.
The Avalon is powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 found in its cousin (that’s you Lexus ES350). Multi-port injected and good for 268HP and 248 lb-ft of twist, the transverse mounted V6 is a power plant that should be familiar to anyone who has driven a V6 Toyota in the last decade.
All that power is coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Three drive modes are included in the Avalon: Sport, Eco, and Normal. Putting the car in Sport and engaging the paddle shifters actually delivers some pretty quick shifts. It’s far from the gold standard of the industry but it certainly was quicker than the Accord Coupe I tested earlier this year.
Toyota says that part of the facelift includes a retuned suspension geared more towards comfort. It is a tough idea to wrap your head around – an Avalon that is more comfortable than its predecessor? But the engineers have indeed pulled it off, as the Avalon is extremely plush to ride in.
Potholes are a joke – they are something the Avalon ignores, hovers across, and cruises past. The biggest downside to the retune however is the amount of pitch and roll the car succumbs to. Under heavy braking the Avalon will pitch forward so much you could practically smell the thick leather steering wheel (now you know why).
Quick decisive direction changes sees the Avalon gradually rocking from side to side like a big ocean liner. The wheel has a decent amount of heft to it and is fairly responsive albeit lacking in feel. The biggest drawback to the suspension is the bouncing from the rear end when encountering large bumps. It takes a few moments for the car to settle down after hitting a small dip in the road.
During my week with the Avalon, I took it on a small trip to London, Ontario. The car hummed along the 401 effortlessly. On the inside, the 11-speaker JBL system kept me entertained (thank you Sirius XM) with its great sound. I was a particular fan of the old-school hi-fi inspired volume knobs.
The Limited model adds a host of safety equipment over the standard Avalon too. Toyota’s Safety Sense P includes blind spot monitoring, dynamic radar cruise, cross traffic alert, and lane-departure warning, all of which adds up to a very serene and calm road trip experience. My round trip took six hours and the Avalon was a great companion – I even managed to score the manufacturer’s highway fuel efficiency rating at 7.4 L/100km.
In the past, the Avalon has been the butt of jokes, succumbing to the stereotype of a stale and benign driving experience. The engineers at Toyota have worked hard to prove that there is value to the Avalon name. Deceptively quick and premium enough to almost be a Lexus, the Avalon should be on every full-size sedan shopper’s shortlist.
However, at an as-tested price of $43,770, the Avalon’s biggest competition comes not from the Big Three stateside, rather from in-house: the Toyota Camry. Selling at a full $9,000 less than the tippy top Avalon, it’s a tough sell for anyone who is in need of a family car. But rest assured, if you do happen to have some extra cash lying around, the Avalon will provide one of the most comfortable rides in town.
型号 Model: 2016 Toyota Avalon Limited
顏色 Paint Type: Parisian Night Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $38,990
試車售價 Price as Tested: $43,770
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,820
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,960 / 1,835 / 1,460
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,625
引擎 Engine: 3.5L DOHC V6, Dual VVT-i
最大馬力 Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.4 / 7.4 / 9.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P225/45R18 All-season tires