Saturday Road Test – Toyota Avalon – It’s What’s Inside That Matters

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2016 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium

Interior Designers – Take a Bow

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Here is what sets the Avalon apart from many others – the interior design is simply outstanding!

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Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out the interior shot. You want audio, punch audio. You want to change the station or raise the volume there is that wonderful, somewhat forgotten, invention called a knob. (Honda take note.)

You want navi? Hit Apps, then navi and it appears on the well lighted 7-inch display screen.

The smaller ventilation screen below was also an easy read and it was super simple to achieve the desired temperature. Left it mostly in automatic mode during the test, but there was little agreement on temperature in the cabin, so the Sync button gathered dust. For those of us still living in the dark ages, Toyota thoughtfully included a CD player.

Standard was an a very impressive 9-speaker Entune Premium Audio system that added HD radio and Gracenote album cover art while the App Suite functions through a smartphone interface and brings Destination Search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, and Pandora to the vehicle audio display.

You can also record up to 20 minutes of a broadcast if they hit a string of your favorites.

The system was most welcome when forward progress came to a halt on the homeward trek of an all-day drive. On I-70, a tractor trailer overturned and distributed its contents over all of the westbound and one of the eastbound lanes about five miles ahead.

After lots of inching along, I finally reached an exit ramp that would take me to a series of back roads, (passing the Antietam battle ground,) toward home. It was time to use the paddle shifts and engage the Sport mode. There were also Eco and Normal driving modes.

The steering firmed up a little and there were quick gear changes, only after I got over the surprise of having paddles in a car generally thought to appeal only to an older crowd.

Handling was also better than expected even with some body lean.

(By the way, it was hours before crews could clean up the debris and reopen the interstate.)

This is a good spot to mention the Avalon received a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and that is their top rating.

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Unless you opt for the hybrid, there is only one engine choice, but it is a very good one. The 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 with Dual Variable Valve Timing produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.

Teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the V6 can move the Avalon from zero to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. Running on the cheap stuff, the Avalon carries an EPA-rating of 24 MPG combined (21 city/31 highway) fuel economy. In mostly interstate travel, I came away with 28.

Quick passing moves and interstate merging were a snap with this power combo and one quickly achieves a nice cruising speed. The interior is very much on the quiet side, with little wind noise, but there was just a touch more road noise than I would have expected. (See 9-speaker audio system above.) Certain types of concrete roadway surfaces sent a high pitched sound though the cabin, probably from the P215/55R17 tires.

Drivers get an 8-way adjustable seat with multiple lumbar adjustments. Those assigned to the other side make due with a 4-way adjustable seat. There is a huge amount of passenger room to the rear, and two and perhaps three adults can actually be very comfortable even on long trips, something that cannot be said for many of the Avalon’s rivals.

I am not so sure how they would feel on a journey from Accident, Maryland, to Death Valley, California, but you get the idea.

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The glove box was quite small given the large amount of literature that comes with every vehicle, but there was plenty of interior storage elsewhere. The truck is spacious, and able to consume 16 cubic feet of whatever.

A neat addition is the “eBin” electronics storage tray in the center console that can house two devices and charge them with jacks located below it. A storage box beneath the “eBin” can house devices out of sight while they are recharging. The tray is illuminated at night, thank goodness.

Multiple trim levels? Of course! XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring and Limited. The XLE includes as standard, medium-grain leather seating, an 8-way power driver’s seat and 4-way power front passenger seat, both with multi-stage heating standard. The Smart Key System operates on the driver door and trunk and includes push-button starting. The instrument panel uses Optitron-type gauges and a 3.5-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) color multi-information display.

XLE Premium adds wireless charging, navigation, nine speaker audio system, smartphone app integration, blind sport monitoring and rear cross traffic detection, all good additions.

With zero options, the test XLE Premium Avalon in “Parisian Night Pearl” carried an MSRP of $36,685 including $835 for delivery. Assembly takes place in Georgetown, Kentucky.

For that outlay you get a car that is top quality in virtually every area, and one that carries the twin promises of excellent reliability and long life.

Historians! The Avalon was first introduced in the fall of 1995 as a top-of-the-line replacement for the Cressida.

 

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