There are dual settings for heating, air conditioning and ventilation for front passengers and the rear passengers have ventilation, as well. There’s covered storage at the base of the center stack, behind the shifter (with 12V) and under the armrest, with 12-volt, auxiliary and USB plugs and ports inside.
The leather-covered steering wheel has audio functions on the left, temperature controls on the right, phone on the lower left and display (for the trip computer) and voice controls on the lower right.
The 2011 Toyota Avalon Ltd sedan has a suggested retail price of $36,235 including delivery and handling fees. There were two options on this car that brought it to a total of $37,884. Carpeted floor and trunk mats added $199 and Toyota’s navigation and premium audio package added another $1450. The latter package included the voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with integrated back-up camera (very bright), JBL Synthesis 660-watt audio with four-disc CD changer and MP3/WMA playback capability, 12 speakers including subwoofer, XM satellite radio with NavTraffic, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, hands-free phone and music streaming via Bluetooth.
There is plenty of space for three real people at the rear of the Avalon and a single pass-through to the trunk for longer objects that won’t fit in the 14.4-cubic-foot hold. There are plastic holders on one side of the trunk that look just right for wine bottles, but we didn’t test that option on our shopping trips. The rear seats can be manually adjusted and Toyota fits a rear window shade with controls on the lower left of the dash. The rear center armrest has two cupholders and shallow storage; there are pockets in the front seatbacks as well.
I particularly liked the driver door storage. Yes, it’s hard plastic but it tilts open and keeps papers from flying out in high winds. There is a lot of soft-touch plastic in the cabin that adds to the elegance of this sedan.
Made in Kentucky, the 2011 Toyota Avalon is what I consider a “sleeper”. It has a long list of standard features that normally cost extra in other cars, a great driver’s position and good feedback from the steering wheel, an easy-to-understand navigation system with bright screen and comforting wood surrounds as well as a good combination of electronics and luxurious accommodations.
Up to now, I wasn’t too keen on the Toyota Avalon but the newest edition has gone to great lengths to change my mind.
© 2010 Anne Proffit