Newly redesigned for 2011, the Toyota Avalon takes steps to remain competitive in a saturated large sedan segment. It’s a good time for an update too, considering the new Ford Taurus , Buick LaCrosse and Nissan Maxima have received substantial redesigns recently. But does the Toyota meet the high demands of large sedan buyers? Yes and no. A new exterior look adds modern flair to the four-door body and interior styling is greatly improved, especially when viewed from the driver’s seat. The drive is competent, smooth and comfortable, but utterly un-engaging, much like previous Avalon models. Where we’re left wanting more is in the technology department, which should have been buoyed by a new touch-screen setup and handy functionality like Bluetooth connectivity. Yet the whole interface falls short of what Ford and other competitors deliver and already seems out of date. Couple that with a price point that seems a tad too high, we’re feeling ambivalent about the whole situation. However, Toyota’s name still brings with it a large buyer base and a level of assumed security, which means the Avalon Limited is guaranteed to fit within many buyers’ prerequisites for a large sedan.
What's to Like
An updated exterior modernizes the Avalon, yet won’t alienate those searching for a subtler look from their large sedan. Comfort is key here, with the Avalon providing a non-intrusive, smooth ride for all passengers. The interior looks classy and up-to-date and features a fantastic audio system as standard in the Limited.
What's Not to Like
Passengers in the rear will have to perch on a disappointingly uncomfortable rear bench seat. Technology features are already out of date, and the drive quality is uninspiring. Watch out, Toyota, with the Limited trim inching into the $35K area, you’re going up against a number of cars with a lot more to offer for the money.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
If Toyota aimed to make a car that was unobtrusive and subtle, then they’ve nailed it. The engine produces a good amount of power, but it’s tempered by the smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission. A soft suspension allows the car to seemingly hover over the road, returning exactly zero road feel to the driver. It’s the same with the steering, which is vague, electronic feeling and unable to communicate anything through the wheel. Pedal response in the throttle is dull and the brakes are spongy. Safe to say, this is not an enthusiast’s car. However, the sound deadening is fantastic and you’ll be quite comfortable driving long distances in the lumbar-supported, heated and cooled fron...