The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Heels on Wheels - 2013 Toyota Avalon Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Toyota Avalon


By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The redesigned Avalon represents a new direction for Toyota, now focused on going after a younger and more tech-based buyer by giving this sedan a sleeker interior and athletic feel behind the wheel. Also featuring a Hybrid version, a lighter chassis, and all-new connectivity and safety technology, only the name remains the same.

For one day in the mountainous range of Santa Barbara off the California coast, I drove a 2013 Toyota Avalon in the Limited trim featuring Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motor generators and a net system horsepower of 200. Standard features at this grade include: leather upholstery and interior trim; power and heated ventilated front seats; heated rear seats; premium navigation and JBL audio systems with Entune; seventeen-inch wheels; puddle lamps; HID headlamps; and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic alert. Total vehicle price as described comes to $41,400.

The Avalon proves to have a custom-fit approach just by the fact Toyota had to invent new factory machinery to build it – it is also designed, engineered and manufactured entirely in north America. Main competitors are other sleek mid-to-full-size sedan options like the Lincoln MKL, Chrysler 300 and Ford Taurus.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The bold and more aggressive design of the Avalon features the same wheelbase dimensions but with shorter overhangs, reducing the height by an inch. The thinner taillamps intersect the design lines perfectly for a look the feels unified. Inside is degrees plushier than previous models with soft-touch materials at the dash and door. The avant-garde center stack is contoured to the driver and refuses to soak up unnecessary space, blending touch-sensitive IntelliTouch switches with more traditional dials and button controls. The Limited grade features the highest quality upholstery.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2013 Toyota Avalon is not yet tested by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A safety feature optional for the Limited is a pre-collision system where the drive can set a safe cruising distance and be forewarned with a flash and beep when coming too close to a vehicle in front – the Taurus has the same feature.

Cost Issues: On sale this winter, the Avalon is priced as follows: XLE $30,990; XLE Premium $33,195; XLE Touring $35,500; Limited $39,650; Hybrid XLE Premium $35,555; Hybrid XLE Touring $37,250; Hybrid Limited $41,400.

Activity & Performance Ability: Some of the more interesting performance components for the Avalon are the new square quadrabeam headlights, paddle shifters, driving modes for both engines (Sport, ECO and EV), and Blind Spot Monitor. Driving in the Santa Ynez Mountains pushed the Avalon Limited Hybrid to show swift acceleration during deep inclines. Transferring from Sport to ECO mode on high-speed stretches was not an experience in abrupt throttle change that plagues so many hybrid systems. There are no paddle shifters on the Hybrid trims. The new electric power steering did enhance straight-line stability.

The Green Concern: The Avalon has shed 121 pounds, which aids in the vehicles new EPA-estimated fuel economy results, going from 19-city and 28-highway to 21-city and 31-highway for the non-hybrid 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Hybrid model expects 40 miles-per-gallon combined.

The completely redesigned 2013 Toyota Avalon will leave a high-tech impression on younger buyers that might have passed up this mid-size sedan in the past, thanks to a new Hybrid option and a Limited trim that appropriately captures the best in technology and elegance.

2012 Katrina Ramser