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2011 Toyota Avalon Review – Providing comfort in familiarity

Thursday November 4th, 2010 at 9:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

Pros

  • Generous amounts of power available from the standard V6 engine
  • Luxurious comfort without the upscale price tag
  • Redesigned interior is spacious, elegant, and incorporates many high-tech features
  • Outstanding 660 Watt, 12-speaker JBL sound system

Cons

  • Not to be mistaken for a sports sedan
  • Navigation display has low-resolution graphics and the default screen is never the one I want to see
  • Faces tough competition at its price point

Toyota has introduced a redesigned Avalon for 2011, teaming its 268-HP V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission for high fuel efficiency (29 MPG EPA highway rating). Evoking a time when travel was sophisticated, elegant and comfortable, the new Avalon combines a distinctive new exterior style and a restyled interior rich with premium touch points and practical new technologies.


2011 Toyota Avalon

Growing up with Toyota

Toyota has been a consistent reliable brand to drive, with diversified top selling models such as the Camry sedan, the subcompact Corolla, and the semi-environmentally conscious gas/electric hybrid Prius. Growing up, I knew many families who were loyal Toyota fans as evident by the number of Corollas, Supras, and 4Runners parked on the street and in people’s driveways in my old neighborhood.

The Avalon has always been a solid performer, with standard V6 power, lots of interior space and a reputation for reliability. Early Avalons were often criticized for their humdrum style, especially the first-generation model.

At first glance the redesigned Avalon still looks too conservative and not all that different from the old car. However, look closer, and you’ll notice a lot has changed, from the more streamlined headlights to the smoother-looking front grille. The interior is even cleaner and looks more high-end with tasteful wood accents on the doors, steering wheel and center stack. Extra touches such as the navigation system with backup camera and heated and cooled seats were nice additions over the outgoing model.

2011 Toyota Avalon

Driving Impressions

Approach the Avalon Limited with the key fob in your pocket and the driver’s door unlocks almost silently. The door handles are thick, and they open weighty slabs of steel that feel vacuum-sealed to the car. There’s not much shape to the front seats, but all the controls are logically arrayed — including 14 switches or knobs to operate the navigation and sound systems, and 10 buttons integrated into the steering wheel.

Developed and built with American roads in mind, the Toyota Avalon is big, stable and powerful. A 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The front-drive Avalon is based on a heavily modified version of the previous-generation Camry chassis.

Its ubiquity may define it as ordinary, but this combination of engine and transmission is so buttery smooth that its gears could well be lubricated by cholesterol. Throw in the thick sound-insulation package and the result is a suitably powerful drivetrain that operates in virtual silence with shifts you practically need a stethoscope to detect.

2011 Toyota Avalon interior

There are three trim levels: XL, XLS and Limited. Even the base XL comes loaded with standard equipment. The XLS is more upscale, with premium features including a moonroof and a six-CD changer. The leather-lined Limited serves as the model’s top-of-the-line trim.

The Limited trim handles adequately, but the Avalon should not be mistaken for a sport sedan. It is a full-size car with qualities that lean toward comfort over athleticism. Downsides to the Avalon are few. Main complaints concern the navigation display which always returns to its default screen and doesn’t have a “night” mode when ambient light is low. Additionally, the Avalon possesses a slightly dull driving demeanor that can lull you into a medical coma.

Notably, the Avalon has matured gracefully over the years and has great appeal to the loyal Toyota fan who seeks comfort in familiarity. The V6 provides plenty of power off the line, but what sticks out the most is how smooth and quiet the car drives. It’s perfect for a long road trip, with lots of passenger room and a good-size trunk. With an aging baby-boomer generation seeking comfort and functionality over style and flash, the 2011 Avalon is perfect for staying within your comfort zone.

BUILD INTERIOR PERFORMANCE HANDLING STYLING VALUE OVERALL
RATING 4.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 4.0 4.0 4.0/B

MORE EXPERT REVIEWS
2008 Toyota Avalon 2008 Toyota Avalon Touring – The Everyman Luxury Sedan
Rating: 4.58 stars
By Kurt Gensheimer

“On the interstate is where the Avalon shines. First off, the cabin is gigantic, the leather seats are as welcoming as your living room couch and the engine is barely audible.”

2011 Toyota Avalon Photo Gallery

2011 Toyota Avalon

2011 Toyota Avalon Specs

ToyotaThe official website of Toyota – www.toyota.com

6 Responses to 2011 Toyota Avalon Review – Providing comfort in familiarity

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  5. derek says:

    @Peter – I know a lot of Avalon owners that would disagree with you whole heartedly. Many of them are loyal Toyota owners and would not hesitate to purchase another Toyota, despite the hype created by the media surrounding Toyota’s number of recalls.

    The unintended acceleration is a witch hunt and Toyota was the vamp that got crucified because it was such a huge target with deep pockets. All tests and investigations have come up with zero hard evidence leading to an electrical or mechanical failure.

    Electrical power steering is here to stay and continues to be improved for a number of reasons. I’ve driven a lot of Toyota/Lexus/Scion vehicles and the engineers are getting better with dialing in more steering feedback and response to driver input. The Avalon is targeted toward a more mature audience and thus the suspension and driving dynamics are toned down to meet those expectations. The Avalon has no delusions of competing with or trying to become a European sedan. The Avalon is what it is. Nothing more.

  6. Peter Anastopulos says:

    When it’s a Buick or Crown Vic it’s awful but when it’s a Toyota it’s “Matured’ bullshit.This car is awful rubbery ,loose and nervous on the entrance ramps.Toyota has always had problem with that Electo/Magnetic steering but continue to use it. How can you even remotely say it’s reliable with whats been going on at Toyota .The Avalon being one of the main culprits of unintended acceleration and all those engine recalls.Worst of all is the way the veneer of Toyota leather fades and the headlight lenses fog up a few years into ownership.Toyota has fooled a lot of people because in the 1980′s and 1990′s they built primitive but reliable vehicles that’s changed .Trying to compete with the Germans they forsaken the only reason why we bought Toyota which is Value.





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