A big Toyota named after the legendary island of Arthurian lore. It’s about the size of an island too.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
Pricing: 2016 Toyota Avalon
Base price (Limited trim): $43,770
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $45,530
I’ve often kidded that the Avalon, named after a legendary island of the dead where people went and were taken to die, was the last car an old person would ever buy. It was designed for old people and it would last them for the rest of their days. But it’s come a long way since those days, and while it’s still a pretty posh, comfortable ride, much of the Avalon is perfectly fine for any age of driver – it just depends what you’re after and where your preferences lie.
In my opinion, the big Avalon looks great. It’s a bigger Camry in many ways. It gets Toyota’s current gaping-mouth grille, which is a bit overdone, but otherwise the Avalon gets plenty of things to brag about. Slick lines, nice huge wrap-around tail lights, LED headlights and daytime running lights and a set of muscular-looking exhaust tips. In addition, the wheel wells are filled with 18-inch rims and fat rubber.
The Avalon’s somewhat dark interior gets nice materials, including a handsome wood trim (which was too dark to get noticed right away in my review car) and plenty of soft-touch plastics. The heated and cooled leather seats are insanely comfortable, but lack almost any kind of bolstering, discouraging any kind of sporty driving. This is a theme that will repeat itself.
Navigation, your phone and the 11-speaker JBL audio system are all handled by the well laid-out and easy to operate system on a 7-inch touchscreen. There’s a Qi wireless charger for your smart phone below, and plenty of driver assistance technology too – blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, back-up camera, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and lane departure alert and assist. Not to mention a three-zone automatic climate control, including one for the back seats.
The two main rear seats are very comfortable as well, and are heated. As you’d expect in a car this bag, there is plenty of leg room, even in the middle and head room is generous enough. Our three kids were very happy with the space back there. A little deluxe touch is the powered sunshade for the rear window.
Big cars do something else well, and that’s cargo space. The Avalon’s large 453 litre trunk can be opened remotely via button on the dash or the key fob.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel drive sedan retains its 268 HP 3.5L V6 and the 6-speed automatic. It’s not a fuel miser of course, and Toyota rates it at 11.4 L/100 km (21 US mpg) city and 7.6 L/100 km (31 US mpg), which is actually pretty impressive. We averaged 10.6 (22 US mpg) trundling mostly around town, which isn’t bad at all.
The first thing that you’ll notice when driving the Avalon is Toyota covers the comfort territory. Very well. It has a very comfortable ride and it soaks up the biggest hits you can throw at it. Of course that means there is nothing sporty to work with, as the car has lots of body roll around corners, and plenty of dive and squat happening when you step on the brakes or the gas. In that way it often felt more like our 1978 Oldsmobile than a thoroughly modern car. Taking any sporting pretensions you might have had down yet another notch is one of the numbest steering sensations in the industry. But all of these things aren’t really a knock against the Avalon – they are really just in character with the rest of the car.
Everything happens in a very quiet, hushed manner, regardless of what speed you’re traveling at, and the Avalon actually has quite a bit of power any time you ask for it. The 6-speed is a very smooth transmission, aiming for comfort and trying to maximize fuel economy for the most part. Yes, paddle shifters and the gear selector allow you to bang off manual shifts, but seriously, why would you in this car?
I can’t stress the comfort department enough. Toyota seems to have set out to make the most comfortable car possible at this price, and they’ve succeeded. I can’t think of many cars that would provide more comfort for its drivers and passengers around town and on the highway. This would make a fantastic road trip car.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was pretty high. She said it looks expensive and drives like it’s expensive. She did say that it feels like an older person’s car though.
If a refined, spacious car that’s comfortable and well-appointed is what you’re shopping for, it’s tough to imagine a better value than this loaded up Avalon Limited. Even the lower Touring trim comes with nearly everything, and makes for an even greater value proposition since it’s more than $5000 less.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Toyota Canada.
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