Thursday, February 5, 2015


The Toyota Avalon for 2015 is a luxury sedan that seems to offer just about everything a luxury car shopper might want. There's a smooth, comfortable ride. There are high-end appointments and a long list of standard and optional amenities. There's even a fuel-efficient hybrid model, which boasts excellent fuel economy.

The Avalon comes up short in one key area: status. It doesn't boast the luxury badge that Toyota's Lexus division offers, and for many buyers, that alone is the difference between choosing the full-size Toyota and the luxurious Lexus ES, which is largely similar to the Avalon underneath.

Still, for drivers who don't mind the Avalon's mainstream branding, it seems to offer Lexus luxury for Toyota prices. This unique selling point has kept the car popular with a devoted segment of buyers for more than 20 years.The Avalon offers two engines: gas-powered and hybrid. Gas-powered models have a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that's been a mainstay in the Toyota lineup for years. The vehicle uses a 6-speed automatic and returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Opt for the Avalon Hybrid, and you get a 156-hp hybrid 4-cylinder mated to an automatic with continuously variable transmission. That model returns 40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.The Avalon is offered in four trim levels:Premium, XLE Touring, XLE Touring Sport and Limited. Both gasoline and hybrid models come in Premium, Touring and Limited trims, while the base-level Avalon XLE is solely restricted to the gasoline-powered model.

Things start off with the base-level Avalon XLE ($33,100), which is offered only with the sedan's V6 engine. Standard features include automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an iPod hookup and a 6.1-in, center-mounted touchscreen.

Next up is the XLE Premium ($34,800 for the V6; $37,200 for the hybrid). It adds improved keyless entry functionality (bringing the feature to the rear doors), a power sunroof, a built-in garage door opener and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The 2015 Toyota Avalon has 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and 10 standard airbags. Available features include rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-collision system,. In government crash tests, the Avalon earned a 5-star overall rating. That score consisted of a 5-star side-impact rating and 4-star ratings in frontal and rollover assessments.On the road, the 2015 Avalon is much tighter and more responsive than its predecessor was. Whereas the old car pitched and rolled in corners, the new one stays respectably flat. The ride is still quite refined, but its character has changed for the sportier.

In our interior evaluation, we immediately noticed that the Avalon's front seats are no longer flat and soft like your favorite easy chair. Toyota has added real contours this time, and there are even modest side bolsters to keep you planted in corners. The sloping roofline still leaves enough headroom for 6-footers in the back, and the copious legroom might satisfy even the 7-ft segment.

Most controls are straightforward, although the high-tech IntelliTouch buttons on the center stack may require an adjustment period. Toyota says they're responsive to gloved fingers and long fingernails, but the jury's out on their small size and similar appearance at a glance. On the bright side, the gauges are Lexus-like in their crispness and clarity. The quality of the materials also satisfies.

Trunk space in the regular Avalon has improved significantly, measuring a competitive 16 cu ft. versus the outgoing trunk's subpar 14.4 cu ft. Laudably, the Avalon Hybrid's trunk can still hold 14 cu ft. despite sharing that region with the hybrid system's concealed battery pack.

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