2013 Toyota Avalon - Steve Purdy First Look
2013 TOYOTA AVALON – FIRST LOOK
By Steve Purdy
Until now if asked to identify the most typical “old-man’s” car we might have named the Toyota Avalon, particularly with the anachronistic Mercury Grand Marquis gone to the storage yard in the sky. Even though the last Avalon (generation two) was competent and nicely appointed, it offered little appeal to anyone under Social Security age. Toyota is determined to change that perception with this fresh, third generation Avalon - a large, stylish, full-function, comfortable sedan.
Again, that’s all changing with the mostly-new 2013 Toyota Avalon, perhaps a candidate for “Most Improved” honors. Toyota calls this a “premium mid-size sport sedan” but it is the same size as most full-size cars. So, if you’ll forgive me for my brashness, I’ll continue to refer to it as full-size.
Seating inside is generous and not too soft, both front and rear with more bolster than expected. Interior volume at least matches the last generation Avalon and exceeds it in some measurements. Avalon does not include folding rear seat backs.
Buyers can choose a conventional powertrain or a hybrid. The former is a carryover 3.5-liter V6 making 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque rated at 21-mpg in the city, 31 on the highway and 25 combined on regular fuel. That’s excellent mileage for this size of car. During our test drive we found the acceleration surprisingly strong with a respectably resonant rumble on full throttle. We can control the six-speed automatic transmission with either paddle shifters or the console-mounted shifter if we like, and it even has a ‘blip’ function on downshifts.
Three selectable driving modes are at our fingertips – Eco, Normal and Sport – that adjust throttle response and shift points among other things. This is all done electronically and is becoming as ubiquitous as manual shift modes in automatic transmissions. That allows us to prioritize fuel economy or performance whichever we’re in the mood for.
Wider track with conventional McPherson struts in front and dual-link independent suspension in the rear feature shocks with rebound springs for smoother rough road response. Electric power steering adjusts to speed and other factors to provide decent feel and feedback. While it doesn’t feel like the German sedans it felt much improved over the outgoing Avalon. While we did not experience any challenging roads on our test drive we did push it hard enough to confirm that the handling is quick and responsive enough to satisfy all but the most hard-driving enthusiasts.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive is essentially the same as Camry and one of the most thoroughly developed. Touting 40-mpg in the city, 39on the highway, and 40 combined, according the official EPA numbers, plus an EV mode to make better use of electrons by holding in electric mode to 25 mph, this HSD system is fully sorted in every way.
The best in new safety technology is available on the Avalon - blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert with 180-degree view, adaptive cruise control with three ranges, pre-collision warning and intervention and more airbags than a Senate panel.
New Avalons began arriving at dealers in November 2012. Base price begins at just over $30,000 for the XLE which comes with leather, smart key and plenty of other unexpected content. The top-of-the-line Hybrid Touring model starts at about $41,000. In all we have four trim levels of the conventionally-powered Avalon and three levels of the Hybrid are available from which to choose.
Toyota’s new car warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.
I would be proud to be seen in the new Avalon. Yes, I really am an old man, though I’m certainly a car-conscious old man sensitive to what I drive. With lots of modern new products in this segment of the market – Impala, Azera, Taurus, Chrysler 300 - Avalon will most certainly hold its own.
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