It’s hard to put a finger on just what it was about it. The new Avalon is in one sense a throwback to an earlier time when almost everyone drove large, made-for-the-open-road sedans. On the other hand it is a 21st century automobile, fully conversant with everything that entails.
It just felt good to be in the driver’s seat – comfortable, roomy, powerful – just everything you want a touring car to be.
Though it’s hard to think of a vehicle made of chrome and steel as drop-dead gorgeous, every time I walked out to get in the Avalon I thought to myself and sometimes vocalized, “Man, what a beautiful car.”
An auto writer drives a lot of new vehicles of every kind and something about the Avalon just fit – like a new pair of Levi’s fresh out of the dryer after their initial washing.
That’s enough gushing, though, so lets get down to brass tacks. There are two models, the second being the Avalon Limited. Both have features common in many luxury cars costing a great deal more.
Like halogen headlamps on the standard model and high intensity discharge lights on the Limited. Both have wide-angle fog-lamps, a great feature if you drive Hwy. 285 into South Park from time to time. Both also feature LED tail lamps.
Both have heated sideview mirrors with an auto-dimming feature, solar energy-absorbing glass, a rear view camera and articulated steering wheels. The Limited has rain-sensing wipers.
We tested out a fully loaded Limited, which may have something to do with why we loved it so much.
Features we find so seductive include heated and ventilated front seats, multi-function info displays, JBL Synthesis sound, voice-activated navigation and even a rear sunshade.
Both models are powered by a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-Valve V6 that produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.
They both have a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with a sequential shift capability.
Each has Toyota’s Star Safety System, which combines and coordinates the various, brake, traction and stability functions.
Smart Stop, a reaction to the incredibly exaggerated occurrence of runaway acceleration, is also featured. To our knowledge there were less than 20 such episodes out of the millions of Toyotas on the road. In any case, this feature reduces engine power if the brake is pressed firmly, even if the accelerator pedal is floored.
The Avalon rates dead center on emissions, but makes up for its average green rating with 20-mpg in town and 29-mpg on the open road.
The Toyota Avalon has received high safety ratings for years and was a top pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2010.
If you find yourself yearning for the days of yore when those big, comfortable, well-powered sedans, sometimes affectionately called “land yachts,” ruled the road, the Toyota Avalon is sleek, safe and seductive overland Clipper ship for the world of today – a true highway star.