Soft suspensions and a slick drivetrain make the 2008 Toyota Avalon brisk in a straight line, if a bit ponderous around corners.
“The current Avalon is among the quickest big sedans in this price range, thanks to a very potent 3.5-liter V6,” claims Edmunds. The sole powerplant in the Avalon, the dual VVTi engine cranks out an enthusiastic 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Motor Trend finds it carries the “Avalon to the 60 mark in a purposeful 6.2 seconds,” and that's with the older five-speed automatic transmission, which has been replaced with a six-speed for ’08. With more ratios available to the tractable V-6, acceleration should be even quicker this year.
The Avalon’s fuel economy ratings are among the highest in its class of large sedans, at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.
Car and Driver finds “the Avalon's independent suspension provides a tauter, sportier ride-and-handling compromise than its forebear” and notes its “velvety ride quality.” But apparently that’s not saying much, as nearly every other reviewer criticizes its handling, including ConsumerGuide: “Poised enough for a big family sedan,” they begin, but are quick to add, “Some testers want more steering feel and weight.” They also note “body lean is pronounced as cornering speeds increase.” “The Avalon's steering is overboosted,” criticizes Automobile, “and early terminal understeer rewards any enthusiastic input.” Truly, it would seem, the Buick of Toyotas, and indeed, Edmunds considers it’s “at its best on the open highway.”
Motor Trend praises the Avalon’s stability control system, calling it “a particularly cushy catcher's mitt, grabbing wayward chassis gyrations without a stinging rebuke back to the driver.” Edmunds likes its “tidy turning circle” that “makes the Avalon feel unexpectedly nimble on tight city streets.” And ConsumerGuide remarks the “strong brakes are easy to modulate, but simulated panic stops induced marked nosedive.”