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

2013 Toyota Avalon First Drive Results With Senior Test Drive Comments By Marty Bernstein +Video

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Toyota Avalon


by Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor-at-large
The Auto Channel

Going to test drive the new 2013 Toyota Avalon, if you’re expecting just a few minor changes in one of Toyota’s favorite vehicles … forget it! This is a totally new 2013 Avalon. It is nothing like the previous iterations which were seldom more than minor nip and tuck updates and refinements of a fine car. It was the ultimate Toyota luxury sedan for those who did not care to drive a Lexus which is also a Toyota brand.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

But in a bold move that frankly may estrange some previous owners, the only Avalon DNA that remains in the 2013 versions is the name and the vaunted reputation. It was a big news surprise to me and will be so for many, many fans. Now, that’s not a negative because change can be good and the new Avalon model is not just good …it’s very, very good.

It is the most American Avalon, built entirely in Kentucky, and designed in Toyota’s design and technology centers in California and Michigan. This new Avalon represents Toyota’s future design language and direction, a change for the usually more staid and reserved company. It’s the shape of Toyota’s to come to paraphrase the ads. The general manager of the Toyota division told auto writers during the recent introduction, “The point of the new Avalon is to show the market that ‘Toyota is back!” that’s their business response to the recent disastrous tsunami which hurt the company seriously, but even more it is a significant move from sedate to sleek and smart, a vehicle that offers a wider generational appeal to a larger market of potential buyers. They won’t or should not be disappointed either.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

This is not just an improved Avalon. It’s been enhanced, updated, modernized, updated, changed, okay … revolutionized. New. Better. The exterior dimensions have been trimmed from the previous model to be sleeker and more sophisticated front to rear and top to bottom in new sheetmetal with shimmering, sexy lines and body accents. There’s a new grill with better cooling and pedestrian impact protection. The Avalon’s headlights are in a cluster and are available in Halogen and high intensity versions. Tail-lights are LEDs and optional front LED bulbs can be had too.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Inside it’s the automotive version of big-time-decorators interior décor styling. Soft touch materials – some hand stitched – abound, smoke chrome is accented glossy panels and other elegant textures and touches. Result? Good visual appeal and feng shui. The front seats are comfortable and there’s more rear seat leg room. The instrument panel is clean and clear during daylight. The infotainment dials, knobs, pushers and sliders are within easy reach. Three color options make the selection easy.

Driving the new Avalon was the really big surprise. It’s more agile, more nimble and more responsive than previous generations. The ride is firm and sporty compared to land cruiser languid. It is a better Avalon. Naturally, Toyota has added a Hybrid version as befits the leader in innovative powertrains.

The gas-powered Avalon features a powerful, all-aluminum 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission. Avalon Hybrid is equipped with a modified version of the 2.5-liter Hybrid Synergy Drive system that also propels the Camry Hybrid.

It’s on sale now at Toyota dealers everywhere. Take a look. Take a test drive. You will be pleasantly surprised. The pricing for the four different Avalon versions is detailed below:

Model	       Avalon Gas	Avalon Hybrid 
XLE 	               $30,990	 
XLE Premium 	$33,195	          $35,555
XLE Touring 	$35,500	          $37,250
Limited 	      $39,650   	      $41,400
Senior Test Drive Comments For Those Of A Certain Age

If you’re one of the countless thousands who have purchased an Avalon since it was introduced in 1995 the new model will be a lot different. Gone is the softer handing, lighter steering, and braking. The new Avalon is sportier, has firmer ride, is a drivers’ car with quick and responsive steering and taut brakes. Ease of getting in and out of both the front and back seats remains. I did not drive the car at night so cannot comment about post sundown driving visibility – that will come when a longer test can be arranged as will other comments. What does remain is the Toyota’s reputation for reliability, dependability, reasonable gas mileage and value.