- Quiet and upscale interior with roomy seating front and rear
- Large trunk
- Above average fuel economy
- Ride quality might be too firm for traditional Avalon buyers
The Toyota Avalon has a history of being a rather conservative car. No, we don't mean it's been a frequent guest on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Rather, Toyota has stayed away from style and fashion fads in favor of no-nonsense design and comfort. However, with its 2013 redesign, the latest-generation Avalon received a more stylish exterior design and sportier handling to go with its traditional room and comfort. It was certainly a risk for Toyota, but we like how the changes gave the Avalon a more modern feel and yet still kept it very pleasant to drive.
Two years later, the 2015 Toyota Avalon keeps that balance going. It has a quiet and comfortable interior, with plenty of room for five passengers. It's also pretty well equipped. Even a base Avalon comes with keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery and a power driver seat as standard. Moving up to the more expensive versions will get you tech-oriented features like adaptive cruise control and smartphone app integration through Toyota's latest version of its Entune system. For power, the Avalon relies on its 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers silky, effortless acceleration while still returning strong fuel economy of 24 mpg combined.
Along with the Avalon, though, there are some great choices in the large-sedan class this year, highlighted by the appealing 2015 Chevrolet Impala, the updated 2015 Chrysler 300 and the related, and well-rounded 2015 Hyundai Azera and 2015 Kia Cadenza. The Avalon isn't the sportiest of this group, but it is arguably the most comfortable and it boasts the strongest reputation for quality and reliability. Given those strengths, the Edmunds.com "A" rated Avalon easily earned a recommended spot in our 2015 Sedan Buying Guide and certainly merits a top spot on your shopping list.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
Toyota adds an XLE Touring Sport model to the Avalon's 2015 lineup, while also upgrading the Entune infotainment system, making paddle shifters standard on all models and adding blind spot monitoring to the Touring models.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 Toyota Avalon is offered in five trim levels: XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring, Limited and XLE Touring Sport. The Avalon Hybrid is covered in a separate review.
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 and entry, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch central touchscreen display (Entune Audio Plus) and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
The XLE Premium adds upgraded keyless ignition and entry (additional functionality for rear doors and trunk), a power sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The XLE Touring has 18-inch wheels, foglights, driver memory settings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Toyota's Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, which includes a nine-speaker audio system, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system and smartphone app integration.
To the XLE Touring, the XLE Touring Sport adds black-painted alloy wheels, xenon headlights and perforated leather upholstery with dark blue piping.
Going with the Avalon Limited gets you all of the XLE Touring's equipment plus xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, automatic wipers, ambient cabin lighting, tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver seat, eight-way power adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear seats, a rear power sunshade and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.
Some of the upper trims' features are available as options for the lower trims, though availability can vary by region in the United States. The Limited also offers a Technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, automatic high-beam headlight control, Qi wireless charging and a pre-collision system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Avalon's interior is spacious and elegant, with high-quality materials throughout. The front seats are very comfortable, with plenty of side bolstering and lumbar support for both the driver and the front passenger. As you'd expect from a car in this class, the Avalon's rear seat is quite roomy.
All Avalons come standard with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, and the XLE Premium and above come standard with additional smartphone app integration and a larger screen. Toyota has also updated Entune for 2015, adding swipe capability, a customizable home screen, voice recognition training and cache radio that can rewind up to 20 minutes.
Storage cubbies provide ample room for drinks and personal effects, and the center console is large. The front section of the center console acts as a convenient "eBin," with power cords passing through a sliding panel for two cell phones and auxiliary and USB connections. This area is also home to the available Qi wireless charging system. Toyota is among the first automakers to offer wireless charging for cell phones. We like its convenience, but it doesn't charge very quickly. The generous trunk offers 16 cubic feet of space, and its wide opening and low liftover height make it easy to load heavy bags.
Standard safety features for the Avalon include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front and rear seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and a rearview camera. The XLE Touring, XLE Touring Sport and Limited come with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. Also standard on the Limited is Toyota's Safety Connect service, which includes roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location and automatic collision notification. The Limited's optional Technology package includes a frontal collision warning system.
In our testing, an Avalon XLE came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, a few feet longer than the class average.
In government crash tests, the Avalon received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Avalon scored a "Good" rating -- the highest possible -- in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Avalon's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2015 Toyota Avalon comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 268 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability.
At Edmunds.com's test track, an Avalon XLE sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, one of the quicker times in this segment. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 24 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway).
The 2015 Toyota Avalon's V6 engine is smooth and powerful and should provide more than enough acceleration to please most drivers. Furthermore, that performance is delivered in a very quiet, unruffled manner, which adds to the Toyota's appeal as an effortless open highway cruiser.
Overall, the Avalon provides an impressive blend of comfort, performance and efficiency. It's also just plain easy to drive. The ride quality is firmer than that of Avalons of old, though, so if you're coming out of an older Avalon, make sure you give this new car a thorough test-drive.
With its combination of style, comfort, overall quality and willing performance, the 2015 Toyota Avalon is a very smart choice for the full-size sedan buyer.