RAMONA, Calif. — This is a car designed for Sunday afternoons. Monday through Friday, it does duty as the cocoon to protect drivers along the byways; Saturday it does duty as the grocery and errand machine with spacious seating and good storage. But when the road opens up and schedules are dispensed with, the Avalon is a great companion for family — or just the two of you.
A roomier, sharper Avalon is now available. Gone is the soft-shouldered first generation Avalon: in its place is a more refined, formal vehicle that continues to be the sole "big American" car offered by a mainstream Japanese nameplate in the U.S. Its competition includes the Mercury Grand Marquis, Buick LeSabre or Park Avenue, the new Chevy Impala, and the Chrysler Concorde/300M.
The Avalon is more than a Camry with an extra-roomy rear seat. With the midsize segment growing, the company sees the Avalon as a premium move-up vehicle. The EPA designates the Avalon as a large car; this is based on its large interior volume, greater than most cars with a smaller shadow, even though it’s built on a stretched Camry platform.
But with the Avalon, Toyota stylists penned a more cab-forward shape, giving the car a contemporary styling that is dynamic, elegant and distinctive. The Avalon retains the same wheelbase from the previous generation, but gains about an inch of width and shifts some exterior length from the front to the rear of the car. The rear seats are pushed rearward to provide more leg room, the seats are situated higher and the roof has been raised to increase interior space.
Moving things forward
Too, the Avalon's instrument panel was moved forward about four inches, providing a feeling of openness and requiring less eye movement when transitioning between the road and the gauges. At the center of the instrument panel is a new multi-information display. The XL grade features warning lamps, odometer, trip meter, clock and outside temperature functions. The premium XLS grade adds a compass, trip computer and calendar functions.