Toyota’s top of the line Avalon front-wheel-drive, four-door sedan has gained a facelift for the 2011 selling season that gives it a more expensive look – even without a change to the factory sticker price. The new front and rear styling adds elegance and gives the Avalon a more refined look, as does the new dashboard treatment inside.
The Avalon, now being more aggressively marketed than it ever was before, wants to appeal to younger buyers, hence the facelift – was it really Botox? Wanting to shed its mien as a car meant for older people, and a viable option for those looking at a Buick, the Toyota Avalon has meandered upstream and is a much nicer sedan than it used to be.
Quite stylish in a near-black sizzling crimson color (different from another Avalon tested by High Gear Media's editors this year, seen above), the 2011 Avalon needs little to complete its luxury stance. Its exterior has raised haunches and a distinct front-to-rear crease above the polished door handles that exude class. Polished window surrounds and sills complete the march upstream. The horizontal front grille is bright and there’s a similar bar at the rear to separate the sloping rear lamps and signals.
Equipped with a 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 that produces 268 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 245 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm, the Avalon steps out nicely and displays agility that seemed to be missing from previous Avalon models. Its six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift allows drivers to operate the gearshift manually but, fair warning, the driver must shift down the transmission as this machine won’t do it for them
The MacPherson strut suspension all around with offset coil springs and stabilizer bars doesn’t have a mushy feel to it and the variable assist power rack-and-pinion steering feels very good on-center, giving it a crisp feel. The turning circle is decent for this large front-wheel-drive sedan at 36.9 feet. Toyota fits P215/55R Bridgestone tires riding on 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy rims that add to the quiet feel of the Avalon.
The Toyota Avalon is classified as a large sedan at 197 6 inches length, 72.8 inches width and 58.5 inches height. It rides on a 111-inch wheelbase and weighs 3616 pounds. Toyota equips the Avalon with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank and allows regular fuel: fuel economy estimates are 20/29 and this sedan should be able to go 500 miles between fill-ups on long, steady trips.
Brakes have power assistance with ventilated front and solid rear discs. ABS, EBD and brake assist bring the Avalon to a consistent halt with no fanfare to speak of. The Avalon is an extremely quiet car, showing that Toyota’s efforts to trim unwanted noise have gone well. There are two large pipes at the rear but their sound doesn’t enter the cabin except at full song.
The interior of the 2011 Toyota Avalon is inviting, as the driver gazes at black gauges with white numbers and red pointers. There are gray rims to the gauges that include both temperature and fuel analog indicators. The speedometer reads to 160 mph and the tachometer tops out at a 6500-rpm redline. The trip computer lies at the base of the tachometer, along with the odometer, while trip odometers are at the base of the speedometer. At rest the gauges are blacked out, Lexus-style.
All windows are one-touch both directions, as is the standard tilt/slide sunroof. Among the standard features for 2011 are the heated and ventilated front seats and the power driver’s seat cushion extension (lumbar controls are included as well). A smart key system offers push-button start and the perforated leather trim on the eight-way power front seats offer great lumbar, but somewhat lacking lateral support.