- Dynamic new look
- Luxury-like cabin quality
- Roomy seating front and rear
- Large trunk
- Generous interior storage
- No lesser equipped and cheaper base model
- Ride might be too firm for traditional Avalon buyers
As Toyota flirted with its status as the world's largest automaker, the company seemingly forgot about building appealing cars that connected with drivers on a visual and emotional level. A recently redesigned Camry sent the first signal that Toyota was serious about making interesting cars again. Next up: the 2013 Toyota Avalon.
A wide-mouth lower grille accentuates the Avalon's new front end, while hood channels and narrow headlamp lenses contribute to a more forceful presentation. The Avalon looks sleeker in profile, a result of the car's rear roof pillars that sweep more purposefully toward the trunk. The rear end, meanwhile, is pulled together more tightly, with LED taillamps extending onto the trunk lid and tied together with a sweeping chrome strip.
The Avalon remains front-wheel drive, but overall it's slightly shorter and wider than the previous model. A stiffer body, thanks to increased bracing, and revised suspension settings deliver an improved ride and more assured handling, while still providing ample comfort. The Avalon's engine is pretty much unchanged, however, so you're looking at a still impressively smooth 3.5-liter V6 that generates a respectable 268 horsepower and 25 mpg combined on the EPA cycle.
Despite the new Avalon's smaller dimensions, interior room is actually up thanks to a greater range of seat adjustments and more efficient sunroof packaging. The trunk is also larger and there are new features such as a premium JBL sound system, navigation, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated seats, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. However, the biggest departure is interior materials quality. The last Avalon had quite a few disappointing, hard interior bits that paled in comparison to those in key rivals. The new car, however, feels like a luxury car both in terms of quality and its eye-catching design.
Toyota is positioning the 2013 Avalon as an American sedan, designed and built in the United States and catering to American tastes. With its distinctive new look and improved interior, the new Avalon is an impressive package that puts it back in front after several competitors notched ahead of the previous model. Although looking at the 2013 Buick LaCrosse, 2013 Chrysler 300 or 2013 Hyundai Azera would be wise, we have no problem saying the new Toyota Avalon has more than enough merits to be a top choice for a large sedan.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is fully redesigned.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2013 Toyota Avalon is offered in four trim levels: XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring and Limited. The XLE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar support, a four-way power front passenger seat and heated front seats. Electronic features include keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch central touchscreen display and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, an, auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The Avalon XLE Premium is very similar but has upgraded keyless ignition/entry (additional functionality for rear doors and trunk), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera. The Touring has 18-inch wheels, foglights, upgraded leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, an eight-way power front passenger seat, heated rear seats, a navigation system, Toyota's Entune smartphone app integration system and a nine-speaker audio system with satellite and HD radio.
Going with the Avalon Limited gets you all of the above plus xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, tri-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, a rear power sunshade, a 7-inch touchscreen display and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.
The only option for the Avalon is a Tech package for the Limited that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights and a pre-collision system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Avalon's interior is spacious and elegant, with high-quality materials throughout. The dash has an unusual layered layout dividing it into different zones for instrument panel, center console and front passenger area. The effect is tied together with chrome flashing that is attractive but catches the sun in bright light. All the controls are intuitively arranged and nicely weighted for a quality feeling, however.
The front seats are very comfortable and highly adjustable, with plenty of side bolstering and lumbar support for both the driver and the front passenger. The Avalon's rear seats are so roomy that Toyota is actually offering a livery model of this car. The generous trunk offers 16 cubic feet of space, with a wide access and low liftover.
Gauges are sharp and stylish and the center screen is large and easy to read for navigation directions or vehicle operation information. Its audio controls are well-sorted, too. Storage compartments are especially well thought out and provide ample room for drinks and personal effects. The lower section of the center console provides a convenient "eBin" with power cords passing through a sliding panel for two cell phones and auxiliary and USB connections. A large center armrest provides more storage space and additional connectivity and charging for cell phones.
Standard safety features for the Avalon include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Touring and Limited models also come with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. A pre-collision warning system is optional on the Limited.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2013 Toyota Avalon comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 268 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Estimated fuel economy stands at 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
The first thought when driving the 2013 Toyota Avalon might be: "Is this really the Avalon?" It seems that the redesign has also provided a personality change. The stiffer body is immediately apparent by delivering an assured ride but one that is still comfortable. Designers have firmed up the steering to provide more road feel, while the brakes are nicely tuned to match the increased responsiveness of the drivetrain.
The engine is smooth and powerful and will provide plenty of acceleration to please most drivers. Although Avalon buyers in love with the previous car's indifferent dynamics might be a little disappointed with the new car, overall we think this sedan offers a nice blend of comfort and useful performance.
With new features and a new look for 2013, the Toyota Avalon should earn new respect as a top choice for a full-size sedan.