- Lexus-quiet interior
- Smooth, almost pillowy ride
- Strong, silent powertrain
- Backseat space
- snooze to drive
- Conservative look and feel
- Price overlaps that of Lexus ES 350
The 2009 Toyota Avalon isn’t a Lexus, but it almost feels like one. The big, roomy sedan is designed for providing a comfortable ride and plenty of interior space, and it absolutely succeeds on those fronts.
Toyota's 2009 Avalon is the automaker's entry into the full-sized sedan market. The 2009 model is very similar to that offered in 2008.
For 2008, Toyota upgraded the brakes for better response, less fade, and shorter stopping distances. The Avalon is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, generating 268 horsepower and driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Nearly every aspect of the 2009 Toyota Avalon driving experience is centered around comfort, assurance, and, in most respects, isolation. The suspension soaks up nearly every kind of bump, yet the body stays in check if you pitch the Avalon into a sharper corner, showing plenty of poise, though it doesn't feel remotely sporty. 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 Avalon's fuel economy ratings are among the highest in its class of large sedans, at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.
In 2008, all Avalons got a new face with revamped bumpers, headlamps, and grille, along with new tinting for the taillamps; overall its appearance became a little more distinctive but not any less conservative. The XLS and Limited models get new wood grain and a power passenger seat. 2009 Toyota Avalon XLS models pick up larger 17-inch alloy wheels, while Limited models gain chrome door handles.
The Avalon's interior alone 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. The trunk is plenty big for a very large suitcase, plus several smaller ones. Three adults can sit in the backseat of the 2009 Toyota Avalon and have just enough shoulder room and space to sprawl their legs.
The 2009 Toyota Avalon is offered in three different trim levels—XL, XLS, and Limited—that span quite a range in price and equipment. 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.
The 2009 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. Electronic stability control is now standard across the 2009 Toyota Avalon line, as are anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, side curtain bags, and a driver's knee bag.