2013 Toyota Avalon: First drive review
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is better, but is it exciting enough to draw younger buyers?
Toyota redesigns its luxurious Avalon sedan for 2013, giving it a stronger look that the company hopes will attract younger buyers. Toyota says the design goal is bold, aggressive luxury. We think the design looks great but is hampered by an awkward face.
For the first decade or so after it was released in 1995 the Toyota Avalon was essentially a Japanese Buick. Heck, it even had a front bench seat, a la the LeSabre or Park Avenue. With its focus on quiet luxury and docile handling, the Avalon attracted an elderly customer base. The Avalon has since stopped copying Buick, but its buyers are still among the oldest on the market. For 2013, Toyota says the Avalon is getting improved handling and an aggressive new design that should bring down the age of the midsize sedan's average buyer by a decade. But is it really that exciting? Let's take a look.
Reviews: Find expert and user reviews
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is offered in four trims with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three trims with a new hybrid powertrain. The V6 comes in XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring and Limited trims, while the hybrid gets all but the base XLE trim. The XLE V6 is well equipped with features such as leather upholstery, Toyota's Display Audio system and 17-inch alloy wheels, while the XLE Premium add a rearview camera, keyless access and starting, and a sunroof. The XLE Touring gets 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters, driver's seat memory, and the Entune infotainment system. The Limited comes with HID headlights, blind-spot monitor with rear-cross traffic warning, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a navigation system.
Hybrid models are similarly equipped, except that a navigation system is standard starting at the XLE Touring level. They all get 17-inch wheels, and the Limited gets a JBL audio system. Notable options for the V6 and hybrid include radar cruise control with a collision-avoidance system and automatic high-beam headlights.
Under the hood
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is offered with a new 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain or a carryover V6 engine. The hybrid powertrain comes from the Toyota Camry Hybrid. It features a 156-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors for a total output of 200 horsepower. The motors can charge the battery, aid the engine, and power the car on electricity alone. Fuel economy is an impressive 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined.
The V6 is Lexus' familiar 3.5-liter engine making 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Estimated Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.
The 2013 Toyota Avalon shares its architecture with the new Lexus ES, and it offers just as much comfort and almost as many luxury appointments. Occupants are surrounded by rich, soft-touch materials that would look just as good in a Lexus as this Toyota. The dashboard, armrests, and door panels are soft touch and leather upholstery is standard — all of which give the car a substantial feel.
The front seats offer plenty of headroom and legroom. They are soft and comfortable, too, though without the bolstering to provide lateral support in aggressive cornering. That's OK, because few owners will treat their Avalon like a sport sedan.
The new design reduces shoulder room in the rear seat a bit, but there is still plenty of space for three-across seating. Headroom and legroom are also generous, and the seats are more sculpted than most, which means better support on long trips. The result is a rear seat that is almost as comfortable as the couch in your living room. That comfort comes at the expense of cargo versatility. Instead of fold-down rear seats, Toyota provides only a center pass-through for long items such as skis. The trunk is pretty big, with 16 cubic feet of cargo space, but the hybrid version has a still-substantial 14 cubic feet to make room for the battery, which sits behind the rear seat.
The Avalon's control interface is a substantial departure from that offered in the Lexus ES. Instead of the mouselike Lexus Remote Touch system, the Avalon features a more traditional button layout, though some of those are capacitive-touch buttons. Higher-line trims have some cool features, such as an LCD climate-control display, a 7-inch touch screen, and the Toyota Entune infotainment system. Entune pairs with smartphones to provide access to several applications, including Pandora and iHeartRadio Internet radio, Bing local search, OpenTable.com restaurant reservations and MovieTickets.com. Entune also provides satellite services, such as real-time weather and traffic, stock quotes, sports scores and fuel prices.
Infotainment systems are increasingly common, and Entune is fairly easy to use. It's a matter of simple touch controls through the center screen. Many customers, especially older buyers, will likely find it easier to understand than the Lexus Remote Touch system and may decide it's one reason to choose the Avalon over the ES, which is essentially the same car.
Must-See on MSN
Pity that they are still using the same antiquated low HP, and torque less engines of the past! instead of updating to the Direct Injection System. In other words: Better, stronger and more fuel efficient like their competition is offering.
If you buy an Avalon Premium, Please make sure you have a manual for the Display Audio System.
I have been trying to get one for a month since I own the car and I am getting the run around from
the Toyota dealer. Can't' believe that they make a car that you can't get a manual for. this is getting
Glad they have improved the car and the handling. I do not care for the big chrome "T" with wings that set atop the grill. I would have preferred it to be more understated.
I will consider this car for my real estate business car. Passenger comfort, room, smooth ride & visibility for my clients is critical. Good move Toyota. To bad GM, FORD & CHRYSLER could not figure this out. To bad Ford did not keep Mercury. What was the the Big 3, now has to wide a spread in car prices: Chevy to Buick; Ford to Mercury. Chrysler styling is to aggressive and small windows.
America needs the Pontiac, Olds,& Merc back in production.