Plush ride, premium equipment mark Avalon


The Avalon, Toyota’s flagship sedan since 1995, is an impressive premium full-size offering.

Several years into its fourth generation, the 2016 Avalon receives a minor face lift. The most noticeable difference between it and last year’s model is new front-end styling. New front turn signals and a bolder new front grille create a new face for the sleekly styled large sedan. The Touring trim level benefits from sportier styling and sporty suspension tuning.

Based on the same platform as the Toyota Camry and Lexus ES, the Avalon distinguishes itself with differentiated styling and a more spacious cabin. The Avalon is much more than a stretched Camry. A comparison reveals that Avalon is much more refined and plush.

Avalon’s exterior styling is appealing and sporty, and Touring models bump it up a few notches with unique styling cues, including LED headlights and 18-inch dark gray painted alloy wheels.

A luxurious and quiet cabin has been a hallmark for the Avalon. That tradition continues, thanks to strategically placed sound-absorbing and sound-insulation materials, acoustic-type glass for the windshield and side glass and foam injected into the A-, B- and C-pillars and rocker panels. The result is a cabin that remains extremely quiet and tranquil, even at highway speeds.

With prices starting around $33,000, the 2016 Toyota Avalon is available in five trim levels: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring and Limited. The sporty Touring model is priced at about $37,000, and the top-of-the-line Limited will set you back about $41,000.

All Avalon models are powered by a competent 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transaxle.

There are no other engine or transmission choices available, and power goes out to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not offered in the Avalon.

Avalon’s 3.5-liter engine burns 87-octane fuel and, remarkably, this large sedan is rated for an impressive 21/31 mpg city/highway.

The base XLE trim level comes well equipped, including automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power front passenger seat, Smart Key System on driver’s door and trunk with push-button starting, rear-view camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, eight-speaker audio system and more.

Also included in the XLE is Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.

Avalon’s controls are easy to reach and operate. There is plenty of room for six-footers in the front and in the rear. Its 16 cubic feet of cargo space is welcoming, too.

Besides all that, Avalon delivers a pleasing ride. My Avalon tester was a Touring model. While some have complained about its stiffer ride, I found it to be well-mannered and moderately firm.