2016 Toyota Avalon – The 99-percent solution – review

2016 Toyota Avalon Limited

2016 Toyota Avalon Limited

The Avalon is Toyota’s full size 4-door sedan.  It competes with American big sedan stalwarts like the beautifully-styled Chevrolet Impala and the ‘gangsta’-styled Chrysler 300.

When we tested the Avalon a few years ago, we were blown away by the Avalon’s luxurious accommodations, superb build quality and pricing.

With the 2016 Avalon’s light makeover, not much has changed.

The Avalon is big, spacious and still very, very luxurious.  Strip away the Toyota badges, replace them with “Lexus” and nobody would be the wiser.  The Toyota Avalon is that good.

On the road

Driving the Avalon, one is treated to a luxury ride.  By some accounts, Toyota has slightly softened the Avalon’s suspension, making it more compliant and able to soak up road imperfections better than the original model of the current generation.

For sure, the Avalon leans heavily on the luxury side of the large sedan spectrum.  At 195-in. in overall length, it’s 6 inches shorter than the Impala and 4 inches shorter than the Chrysler 300.  The suspension is well controlled most of the time, but at highway speed, the Toyota can occasionally feel slightly ‘floaty’.  Most people wouldn’t notice it.

Don’t try to drive the Avalon like a sport sedan.  It’s mission is clearly “Luxury” and “Comfort”, and to those ends, the Avalon is nearly perfect.

The Limited model is fitted with numerous safety features.  We found the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist both worked seamlessly.  With the cruise control engaged and closing on slower traffic, the system automatically slows the car and maintains a safe distance (which can be adjusted in increments by the driver, shorter following distance for lower speeds, more following distance for higher speeds.)

The Lane Departure Alert system also works well.  This system works when the Avalon can ‘see’ painted lane markings, and if the car starts drifting too close to the edge of the lane, the steering wheel vibrates AND gently steers the car away from the edge, helping keep the car in its lane.  This technology is useful and helps enhance driving safety immeasurably.  I’m a fan and recommend it.

Instrument cluster is easy to read

Instrument cluster is easy to read

The 99-percent solution

There are only a few, very minor areas where the Avalon misses attaining full, luxury-class sedan status.  These are so minor, Toyota’s product planners can forgiven for omitting these in order to achieve a specified price point.  On a luxury car, heated steering wheel would be standard equipment; it’s not available on the Avalon.  And there is no power trunk.  (Yes, the Avalon has a power trunk release, but it doesn’t have a power-assist to raise the trunk lid.)  As I said, the omissions are minuscule.

The beauty of the Avalon is that it is 99-percent a luxury car, and after driving it, 99-percent of people will likely agree.

The Avalon's styling is typical Toyota - conservatively handsome

The Avalon’s styling is typical Toyota – conservatively handsome

Engine and transmission

The Avalon uses Toyota’s workhorse 3.5-litre DOHC V6 with its tried-and-true 6-speed automatic transmission, the same powertrain used in Camry.

Fuel efficiency

The V6’s 268 horsepower (same as Camry) provides smooth, useful power, and is very fuel efficient.  The Avalon is officially rated at 11.4/7.6 L/100 km (City/Hwy).  Our test unit achieved a good 9.9 L/100 km in mostly urban (winter) driving conditions.

Price

Our test unit was a top-of-the-range Limited model, $43,770 MSRP (+$1,660 frt/pdi, $100 AC excise tax.)  The base Avalon Touring starts at $38,990.  The Limited model adds a laundry list of extras, such as heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, JBL 11-speaker premium audio system and numerous safety features (blind spot monitoring, dynamic radar cruise control, rear cross traffic monitoring, pre-collision system, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and so on.)

Front seats are heated and ventilated

Front seats are heated and ventilated

Rear seats are comfortable and provide plenty of legroom for adults

Rear seats are comfortable and provide plenty of legroom for adults; on the Limited model, they’re heated

Avalon's audio system is fitted with our preferred traditional volume and frequency knobs, not touch screen controls

Avalon’s audio system is fitted with our preferred traditional volume and frequency knobs, not touch screen controls

One-touch express up/down power rear window sunshade is part of the upscale Limited model's features

One-touch express up/down power rear window sunshade is part of the upscale Limited model’s features

 

Likes

  • Luxurious ride and feel
  • Price – Toyota pricing for a Lexus in disguise
  • Fuel economy
  • Traditional knobs for audio system volume frequency
  • Driver’s seat automatically slides back for easy entry/exit

Dislikes

  • Misses bona fide luxury class by a hair
  • Lacks heated steering wheel and power trunk lid assist
  • Manually adjustable steering wheel, so it can’t ‘sync’ with  driver’s seat memory

Overall

Once again, we’re impressed with the 2016 Toyota Avalon Limited.

For the price of a Toyota, it provides 99-percent of the amenities and luxury of the company’s premium Lexus brand.

Compared against full size sedan competitors, the Chevrolet Impala is arguably better looking and slightly larger.  The Chrysler 300 is the group’s hot rod with a 363 horsepower 5.7-litre V8 available.

But when it comes to long term reliability, Toyota is untouchable, and the Avalon would be my personal choice.

2016 Toyota Avalon Limited – Highly Recommended

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