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New Car/Review


Toyota Avalon XLS (2001)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 30,405
     Price As Tested                                    $ 34,719
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 184 cid/2995 cc
     Horsepower                                   210 @ 5800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               220 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.1"/71.7"/191.9"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3614 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           205/60R16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            21/29/25
     0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 95.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           125 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(The Toyota Avalon borders on being a luxury car, according to Matt Hagin. Bob Hagin says that in this case, close counts.)

MATT - The Avalon is listed by as a no-kidding all-American car in the government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy listings. That's a pretty accurate description of the car in that it was penned in the Toyota design studio in Southern California and is built at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. The Avalon got a complete makeover last year and the goal in producing the newest version was to make it more comfortable and quieter than its predecessor. The designers achieved this but in doing so, they made the Avalon less "sporting" and more of a very luxurious boulevard cruiser. It has traction control to slow down spinning front wheels in icy conditions and a brake-assist system that applies extra pedal pressure if the driver hasn't activated the anti-lock braking system in a panic stop. The suspension front and rear is pretty conventional, with MacPherson struts on both ends but it uses a multi- link system in back to tie things together.

BOB - The powerplant is basically the typically-Toyota 3.0-liter V6 that is used in the Camry, but it's upgraded with improved intake and exhaust systems and uses a variable valve timing system that's electronically-controlled. It's all-aluminum and has twin cams on top of each head with four valves per cylinder. It puts out 210 horses and 220 pound/feet of torque that's evenly delivered over a wide rpm range which makes for a smooth, linear delivery of power. It's not a stop-light drag racer, but then the Avalon wasn't designed to be a sports car with room for five. So when it's pushed to the limit on a slalom course, the traction and skid control systems kick in to let the driver know that he or she is over the limit by displaying a flashing light on the dash and giving off a continuous "beep."

MATT - Understandably, the only transmission available on it is a four-speed automatic in which top gear is an overdrive and obviously designed for highway cruising. Our XLS model had all the Toyota optional available "goodies," which included an in-dash six-disc CD player and P206/16R all-season tires mounted on 16-inch alloy wheels. The outside mirrors are a bit larger this year, and the automatic dimming system on the inside mirror keeps the driver from getting blinded by high-beam drivers to the rear. A really nice touch would have been to add this feature to the outside mirrors as well.

BOB - Toyota engineers went to great lengths to isolate the cabin from outside noise and road distractions. The windshield wiper mechanism is shielded from the slipstream and even the curvature of the leading roof pillars was designed to lessen wind noise. The undercoating is some kind of special aerated material to reduce what the factory brochure calls "stone pecking." I assume that this is the sound made by gravel or pebbles being thrown up by the tires and hitting the bottom of the car.

MATT - That's a new one to me, Dad, but English is a living language so new words and phrases make their way into our vocabulary all the time. The interior of the Avalon is built for comfort. Ours had the special Leather Package which has leather-faced upholstery as you'd expect, as well as heat to the power seats as well as the outside mirrors. And they both have an electrical "memory" so that the drivers don't have to keep arranging their seat and mirror positions. In keeping with the emphasis on "traditional" American car amenities, the Avalon can be had with a three-across front seat, but I've been told that it's a rare one that's ordered that way.

BOB - The rear seat is really very comfortable for three, and there's enough leg and head room to keep full-sized passengers back there from becoming claustrophobic. There's a lockable pass-through from the trunk to the back seat but aside from skis, I can't think of any items that are so long that they can't be stored in the cavernous trunk.

MATT - I can, Dad, and the Toyota guy asked me to make sure that you didn't use the Avalon to transport eight-foot long fence boards.