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The 2011 Toyota Avalon will bring a little more refinement and some new features to the fore when it goes on sale in the summer.
Toyota unveiled the Avalon at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show, and highlighted the car's American bona fides--it was designed in the company's California studios, and it's built at the massive assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
We're praised the 2010 Toyota Avalon for its quiet ride, its roomy cabin and its high-quality interior, rating it at 7.8 out of 10. One of our biggest complaints with the Avalon is its tame exterior, which has improved, if a little, for the new model year. It would be tough to call the new Avalon exciting, but it maintains a clean, formal appearance that reminds us a little of the Chevrolet Malibu--and also the Hyundai Azera, both of which sit in the Avalon's size and price class. The revamped Avalon now wears a grille with some familiar influences--think Toyota Venza--along with a wider stance, a slightly wedgy profile, and a simple tail with large taillamps with LED lighting. Inside there's an elegant dual-cowl dash, with the second cowl arching over the radio and climate controls. Woodgrain trim dominates, along with big knobs and a big LCD screen that controls the Avalon's available navigation system.
A single powertrain slots into all Avalons--a 3.5-liter V-5 with 268 horsepower mates to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's a familiar recipe, found across the Toyota lineup from the Venza crossover to the Sienna minivan and in the Camrys as well. In this application Toyota promises 20/29 mpg fuel economy, which it says makes the Avalon the best in its class. The Avalon's front-wheel-drive chassis uses MacPherson struts in front and in back, and the Avalon sticks with power rack-and-pinion steering.
Passenger room hasn't changed much in the Avalon's latest update, but some of its luxury fittings have been upgraded. The Avalon can seat six, with a three-across front bench available. In back, the Avalon's seats recline for better comfort, something Toyota says is unique in the class. New headrests give the seats better comfort, and some models get leather seats with ventilation.
Among its new features, the Avalon gets Bluetooth; steering-wheel controls for phone, climate control and audio; XM radio; USB connectivity; and an available navigation system with a better interface, Toyota says. Safety features include a new rearview camera (in the mirror on cars not equipped with the navigation system) and the usual front, side and curtain airbag, along with a knee airbag for the driver.
Toyota says the 2011 Avalon will go on sale this spring, with base and Limited editions offered. Standard features will include leather trim, power driver seat, dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, and 17-inch wheels. The Limited adds a smart-key system, ventilated front seats, and a power front passenger seat.