The Toyota Avalon has never been known for flair or extroversion. We'd go so far as to call outgoing model one of the most conservative sedan designs on the market inside and out. Yet the new 2013 version takes the Avalon in a new direction that might actually—perhaps for the first time in Avalon history—pull in shoppers based on its styling and design.
Toyota calls the new Avalon the most “American” Toyota ever, and that includes this sedan's design. Penned entirely in California, and finished and developed in Michigan, the Avalon was conceived with American tastes in mind—especially an audience in the 40-to-60-year-old range.
The design theme of the Avalon is 'Elegant Athletic,' and overall this design is a brisk lane-change—to the degree that it almost warrants a new model name. It's not quite an A7—one of the most beautiful models on the market now to our eyes—but there's no Camry vapor trail left in its lines, and it's truly handsome.
Overall, we like how the new Avalon, from the side profile, looks at ease and neither trying too hard to appear as a hunkered-back rear-wheel-drive sport sedan nor as a cab-forward front-driver. We like the way the roofline arc sits above the more subtle arc in the beltline, and the way the rear pillar arc gradually to the back (Toyota tried to keep it as far back as possible without infringing much on either headroom or the trunk opening).
In front, there's more of a semblance to the Camry, although the more aggressive lower airdam and squared-off projector lamps, with a 'double-eyed' look, point more to a luxury-car identity. Only in back do we think that the design is a slight bit disappointing, with the somewhat generic lux-sedan taillights putting some droop in the tail.
What gives the design punch though is the offset of the rear fender, along with the way the sheetmetal so gracefully flows from the roofline and the doors, meeting in a way that looks not computer-designed but positively hand-sculpted with a series of French curves.
The Avalon's dash received special attention from designers; Toyota wanted the new Avalon to have a premium feel and look, and it shows. The cabin's theme is one that's been styled into most of the current generation of Toyotas, but rises above the usual swipe of differently textured plastics. The climate and audio controls sit on a plane closer to the driver, above a layer that's trimmed with wood grain and an attractive striated surface, which itself is stacked over a dash zone framed in metallic trim. It's unique—not Camry knockoff like some previous Avalon interiors.