- Seats five adults in comfort
- Attractive cabin design with high-quality materials
- Composed and quiet ride
- Powerful and efficient V6
- Available upscale amenities
- Strong crash test scores
- Expensive for its class
- Refined nature leaves little room for flair or personality
- Rear seats do not fold
The full-size sedan is as American as apple pie, baseball and Chuck Norris. It was the preferred vehicular choice for decades when gas was cheap, space was abundant and the crossover sport-utility was but a glint in Jeep's eye. As full-size sedans have shrunk from those land yacht days of yore, this most American of automobiles has been defined in recent years by a Japanese car: the Toyota Avalon. Providing a space-efficient interior, abundant luxury features, strong performance, solid crash test scores, thrifty fuel economy and a refined ride, the Avalon has been the bar that competitors have been expected to clear.
The 2010 Toyota Avalon is in the twilight years of its current generation, but it still remains a benchmark for the class. Riding on a stretched version of the previous-generation Camry platform, the Avalon has front-wheel drive and a virtually flat rear floor that allows three adults to sit abreast in comfort. Despite looking smaller from the outside than many of its full-size sedan rivals, the Avalon offers more space in most interior dimensions. The backseat in particular is a lavish place to spend time, with a standard reclining seatback, abundant headroom and an available power rear sunshade.
Another bright spot for the Avalon is its standard 268-horsepower V6 engine, a variation of the same power plant available throughout Toyota's lineup that delivers an impressive balance of power and fuel economy. Indeed, the Avalon's ability to accelerate more rapidly than similarly powered competitors while still returning 22 mpg combined could be a deal maker by itself.
However, it's not entirely bright and sunny in the land of Avalon. For starters, Toyota's biggest sedan is more expensive than comparably equipped competitors like the Buick LaCrosse and Ford Taurus, which were both completely redesigned and thoroughly improved for 2010 to better compete in the full-size segment. The Avalon also lacks its American competitors' design flare inside and out, which could be a deciding factor among buyers who remember the grandiose glory days of full-size sedans. So while the 2010 Toyota Avalon remains at the top of its game, it finally has serious competition to deal with.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
The 2010 Toyota Avalon gains standard rear-passenger auto up/down windows.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Toyota Avalon is a full-size sedan available in XL, XLS and Limited trim levels. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power driver seat, a reclining rear seat and a nine-speaker stereo with six-CD changer and auxiliary audio jack. The XLS adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a sunroof (optional on XL), leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming driver and interior rearview mirrors, and wood trim. The Limited adds xenon headlights, a passenger-side auto-dimming mirror, automatic wipers, keyless ignition/entry, additional power driver seat adjustment, a power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory functions, a power rear sunshade, Bluetooth and a 12-speaker JBL stereo upgrade.
Toyota's options are grouped into packages, but their content and availability differs by region. Among options available on the XLS are a power passenger seat, heated front seats, driver memory functions and the JBL stereo upgrade. The XLS and XLT can be equipped with a voice-activated navigation system. Adaptive cruise control is only offered on the Limited.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Toyota Avalon's interior feels upscale and inviting thanks to its glowing Optitron gauges, attractive and ergonomic control layout and high-quality materials. Movable panels conceal the radio and navigation controls when they're not in use, giving the dash a sleek appearance. However, to truly achieve the luxury feel the Avalon is known for, we suggest opting up to the XLS or Limited.
The front seats are wide and accommodating -- with the Limited, you also get heated and ventilated seats with a seat-cushion length adjuster. The rear seats are quite comfortable as well. Legroom is abundant even by full-size sedan standards, and the rear seats boast a manually reclining back that allows passengers to stretch out on long trips. A 6-footer can sit in back with more than enough knee- and headroom, and with a nearly flat floor, getting three into the backseat on carpool day is no problem. One minor annoyance is the inability to fold the rear seats (the trade-off for the reclining feature). The trunk measures 14.4 cubic feet, smaller than what's available in other full-size sedans.
Standard safety equipment on the 2010 Toyota Avalon includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag.
In government crash tests, the Toyota Avalon earned a perfect five stars in all frontal- and side-impact categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Avalon earned the top score of "Good" for its protection of occupants in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Toyota Avalon is motivated by a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 268 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The EPA's fuel mileage estimates for the Avalon stand at 19 mpg city/28 highway and 22 combined, making it one of the most fuel-efficient full-size sedans available.
Not surprisingly, the 2010 Toyota Avalon is at its best on the open highway. The cabin remains quiet, the ultra-smooth V6 engine has plenty of passing power and the suspension swallows up road imperfections without drama. The Avalon is no athlete, though, so those interested in a slightly more involved driving experience should consider the Buick LaCrosse. The Avalon's steering is too light to feel sporty, but it at least responds to driver input in a precise, fluid manner. Additionally, a tidy turning circle makes the Avalon feel unexpectedly maneuverable on tight city streets.
Its price of entry may be higher than those of its rivals, but if you're looking for a refined, well-built full-size sedan in the $30,000 price bracket, the 2010 Toyota Avalon is a top-notch choice.