- Quiet and upscale interior with roomy seating front and rear
- Large trunk
- Above-average fuel economy
- Wide array of optional features
- Ride quality might be too firm for traditional Avalon buyers
- All-wheel drive is not an option
The criteria for a solid full-size sedan these days are pretty straightforward: a roomy cabin, a long list of creature comforts and a quiet, controlled ride. Those expectations are apparently tattooed on the arms of every 2016 Toyota Avalon engineer, because the latest version fulfills those needs and then some.
The vast, airy cabin affords more than enough room for passengers front and rear. There's also Lexus-like wood and soft-touch plastic trim, while the supremely comfortable seats are perfect for long-distance cruising. Noise from the road, wind and tires is practically nonexistent. Luxurious features, including ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and a power rear sunshade are all available.
Understating styling is a hallmark of the Avalon, but under that skin is a sophisticated sedan with a luxurious interior.
Even though the Avalon offers a comprehensive set of features along with satisfying performance, there are a few competitors worth considering. Although it's a bit smaller on the inside, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is fun to drive and the cabin design is more modern. The 2016 Kia Cadenza offers goodies not available in the Avalon, including a panoramic sunroof and adaptive headlights. The 2016 Chrysler 300 offers all-wheel drive for cold-weather traction or an optional 363-horsepower V8 for more spirited performance. Other standouts in the category include the 2016 Chevrolet Impala and 2016 Hyundai Azera.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
Touring models now come with a sport-tuned suspension. An XLE Plus version slots between base XLE and XLE Premium trims, while the Touring Sport has been dropped.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
There are five trim levels for the 2016 Toyota Avalon: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring and Limited. The Avalon Hybrid is covered in a separate review.
The base XLE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted paddle shifters, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar support) and a four-way power front passenger seat. Electronics features include keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen with Toyota's Entune interface with voice controls (including Siri Eyes-Free for iPhone users) and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
Like most sedans in its segment, the Avalon offers exceptional rear seat comfort and a sizable trunk.
Upgrading to the XLE Plus adds additional functionality to the keyless entry system, a sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The XLE Premium steps it up another notch with driver memory settings, Qi wireless charging, navigation, a nine-speaker audio system, smartphone app integration, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection.
The Touring comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a sport-tuned suspension and unique interior trim.
With the top-of-the-line Avalon Limited you get equipment from the Touring trim (minus the interior accents) in addition to xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors with puddle lamps, 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, Safety Connect and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.
The Limited also offers a Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system, lane-keeping assist, frontal collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking and automatic high-beam headlight control.
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 with most cars in this class, the Avalon's rear seat is quite roomy. The cavernous trunk offers 16 cubic feet of space, and its wide opening and low liftover height make it easy to load heavy bags.
Top-notch materials combined with a sleek design give the Avalon the look and feel of a luxury car.
All Avalons come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Toyota's Entune infotainment system and iPhone integration with Siri Eyes-Free. The Entune system was updated last year to include swipe capability, a customizable home screen, voice recognition and cache radio that can rewind up to 20 minutes.
Storage cubbies provide ample room for keys and wallets, 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. We like its convenience, but it doesn't charge very quickly.
Standard safety features for the 2016 Toyota 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 Premium, Touring and Limited come with blind spot monitoring systems with rear cross-traffic alert. 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 Toyota Safety Sense package includes a frontal collision warning system, automatic pre-collision braking and lane-keeping assist.
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 stars for overall crash protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Avalon scored a "Good" rating: the highest possible. The Avalon's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2016 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.
In Edmunds testing, an Avalon XLE sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, making it one of the quicker cars in its segment.
The Touring version of the Avalon features unique interior trim along with a sport-tuned suspension.
The 2016 Toyota Avalon's V6 engine is smooth and powerful and should provide more than enough punch 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. The Avalon exhibits a slight amount of body roll through corners, but overall it is surprisingly composed when the road gets twisty.
At its core, 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 comfort, overall quality and solid performance, the 2016 Toyota Avalon is one of the best full-size sedans on the market.