RAMONA, Calif. — This is a car designed for Sunday afternoons. Monday through Friday, it does duty as the cocoon to protect drivers along the byways; Saturday it does duty as the grocery and errand machine with spacious seating and good storage. But when the road opens up and schedules are dispensed with, the Avalon is a great companion for family — or just the two of you.
A roomier, sharper Avalon is now available. Gone is the soft-shouldered first generation Avalon: in its place is a more refined, formal vehicle that continues to be the sole "big American" car offered by a mainstream Japanese nameplate in the U.S. Its competition includes the Mercury Grand Marquis, Buick LeSabre or Park Avenue, the new Chevy Impala, and the Chrysler Concorde/300M.
The Avalon is more than a Camry with an extra-roomy rear seat. With the midsize segment growing, the company sees the Avalon as a premium move-up vehicle. The EPA designates the Avalon as a large car; this is based on its large interior volume, greater than most cars with a smaller shadow, even though it’s built on a stretched Camry platform.
But with the Avalon, Toyota stylists penned a more cab-forward shape, giving the car a contemporary styling that is dynamic, elegant and distinctive. The Avalon retains the same wheelbase from the previous generation, but gains about an inch of width and shifts some exterior length from the front to the rear of the car. The rear seats are pushed rearward to provide more leg room, the seats are situated higher and the roof has been raised to increase interior space.
Moving things forward
Too, the Avalon's instrument panel was moved forward about four inches, providing a feeling of openness and requiring less eye movement when transitioning between the road and the gauges. At the center of the instrument panel is a new multi-information display. The XL grade features warning lamps, odometer, trip meter, clock and outside temperature functions. The premium XLS grade adds a compass, trip computer and calendar functions.
2000 Toyota Avalon
The big interior space is accentuated by the wall-to-wall styling of the dash.
There has been particular emphasis on reducing noise, vibration and harshness. Toyota even reduced 'stone pecking' noise by utilizing injection molded rocker panels. By using dual door seals, stiffer door construction, and thicker side glass, and other improvements, Toyota was able to reduce interior noise by three decibels. An impressive reduction, and something that should be obvious to current Avalon owners after a brief test drive.
Engine output was increased approximately five percent for the new Avalon. The now 210-hp engine is coupled to a smooth shifting four-speed automatic. No thought was given to stuffing Avalon with a long-rumored V-8 — Toyota claims customers are happy with the V-6's output. The improved 3.0-liter V-6 has variable valve timing and a new electronically controlled Active Control Mount (ACM) system that is designed to reduce engine idle vibration.
The Avalon has more than adequate power for merging or accelerating to pass. The transmission downshifts quickly and smoothly. Pushed through tight corners, the Avalon exhibits a strong degree of understeer, and proves its tires are not intended for hard driving or high cornering loads. However, it did handle better than a Chrysler Concorde I drove recently, and the Avalon acquitted itself nicely in an extended drive that included some miserable stop-and-go traffic.
Safe and sound-free
As for safety, the Avalon XLS can be had Vehicle Skid Control, traction control, and Brake Assist. Vehicle Skid Control, or VSC, utilizes the braking system to help the driver maintain control in adverse driving conditions. The system's traction control feature helps reduce tire slippage during acceleration. The Brake Assist feature detects emergency braking and applies supplemental line pressure to help maximize the effectiveness of the Anti-Lock Brake system (ABS).
2000 Toyota Avalon
Also in the area of active safety, the rear-view mirror area on all Avalon models has been enlarged for better visibility. Passive safety is enhanced by an extremely solid body design that helps absorb and diffuse energy along predictable paths, helping to minimize intrusion into the passenger compartment.
Standard on the Avalon XLS, and available as a dealer-installed option on the XL, is an HVAC-integrated micron dust and pollen filter system. Other new comfort and convenience features include an improved illuminated entry system; one-touch power door locks with auto-lock function; auto-down/auto-up driver's window with jam protection; dual double sun visors with extensions; and an optional one-touch power tilt/slide moonroof with jam protection.
Avalon owners will enjoy all-new sound systems with considerably more power, clarity and sophistication. The standard audio system includes a 3-in-1 combination of CD, cassette and AM/FM receiver with 120 watts of power. The premium grade audio was developed in conjunction with JBL and includes exceptional high and low frequency extension and clarity. This was achieved by adopting a separate five-channel, 170-watt amplifier. The system includes 3-in-1 functions with an available integrated six-CD changer on XLS models.
Designed, engineered and built in the U.S., the Avalon is as American as a Buick LeSabre, minus its long-standing heritage. And in some ways, it’s even more conservative.
|2000 Toyota Avalon
Base Price: $25,195 –
Major standard equipment:
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