2008 Toyota Avalon Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 2, 2008

The 2008 Toyota Avalon is designed for a cushy, comfortable ride and impressive interior space above all else.

The automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com have consulted some of the best automotive resources to bring you this review; to make it especially useful to discerning shoppers, TheCarConnection.com’s editors have included their own firsthand observations.

Toyota’s full-size Avalon returns for 2008 with a number of changes to its drivetrain, its front end, and its cabin, although the overall design of the Avalon is carried over.

The 2008 Toyota Avalon is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, generating 268 horsepower and driving the front wheels via a new six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota has also upgraded the brakes for this model year for better response, less fade, and shorter stopping distances.

Muted, comfortable, and assuring--that's the best way to describe nearly every aspect of the 2008 Toyota Avalon driving experience. Its V-6 can barely be heard while idling and is glassy-smooth across the rev band, and its automatic transmission shifts almost undetectably. The suspension soaks up nearly every kind of bump, yet the body stays in check if you pitch the Avalon into a sharper corner, with plenty of poise, though it doesn't feel remotely sporty. The Touring model adds a sport suspension that firms up the Avalon slightly, but not to the detriment of comfort. The Avalon’s fuel economy ratings are among the highest in its class of large sedans, at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.

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The Avalon’s interior along is a strong selling point; its passenger space is one of the roomiest of any sedans, with soft, highly adjustable front- and backseats that are contoured adequately for large adults. Three adults can sit in the backseat of the 2008 Toyota Avalon and have just enough shoulder room and space to sprawl their legs. And the trunk is plenty big for a very large suitcase, plus several smaller ones.

For 2008, all Avalons get a new face with revamped bumpers, headlamps, and grille, along with new tinting for the taillamps. 2008 Toyota Avalon Touring and XLS models get larger 17-inch alloy wheels, while Limited models gain chrome door handles. The XLS and Limited models get new wood grain and a power passenger seat, while the Touring model wears metallic trim on its dash. The result is that the Avalon appears a little more distinctive in the details, but it’s still quite plainly styled.

XL, XLS, Limited, and Touring versions of the 2008 Toyota Avalon are available. In addition to the XL’s generous appointments, the Touring gets larger wheels, HID headlamps, fog lamps, and sportier trim. The XLS adds desirable conveniences such as leather seats, heated mirrors, a moonroof, and a garage-door opener, while the Limited piles on luxury gear, including heated and ventilated front seats, wood grain trim, a Smart Key system, a power rear sunshade, aluminum scuff plates, and a high-end JBL sound system with an integrated Bluetooth hands-free interface. Sound systems now have MP3 capability and an auxiliary port for iPods.

Major options include a DVD-based navigation system, a remote start system, Dynamic Cruise Control, and heated and ventilated seats.

Electronic stability control—a feature commonly standard in vehicles in the Avalon’s class—is optional for $650, but anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, side curtain bags, and a driver’s knee bag are among the standard safety features. The 2008 Toyota Avalon has achieved top marks in crash tests, with the best five-star ratings from the federal government in frontal and side impact tests, plus top "good" results from the insurance-affiliated IIHS in frontal and side impact tests. It was rated "poor," however, in the IIHS rear impact test.

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