After last year's mid-cycle update, the Avalon sails into 2017 unchanged other than the addition of Toyota's Safety Sense P suite of safety features as standard equipment. This includes pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.
The Avalon competes against some remarkably good rivals including the sporty Nissan Maxima, the luxe Chrysler 300, and the Chevrolet Impala. It will also go toe-to-toe with the redesigned Kia Cadenza and Buick LaCrosse.
While the Avalon's most recent update saw its suspension feature a softer state of tune, it's still nothing like the pillowtop-soft models of the past. Sharp steering, good grip, and a responsive suspension setup make the Avalon a more sporty steer, plus, there are three selectable driving modes and paddles for manual shifting. Buyers lusting after that easy-going feel might wish to consider the Lexus ES 350, which shares its platform and powertrain.
Speaking of powertrains, the Avalon comes standard with a smooth 3.5-litre V6 engine that's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission which drives the front wheels. The engine develops 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque which puts the Avalon near the bottom of the pack against similarly-sized V6-powered models. Still, it's a lot more powerful than the four-cylinder models sold by Ford and Chevrolet. Fuel economy for the big sedan is quite reasonable: 11.4 L/100 km city and 7.7 L/100 km highway.
Inside, the Avalon provides stretch-out space for passengers in front and in back; heated rear seats and retractable blinds are available, too. Overall, the cabin design is modern, thanks in part to a standard navigation screen, touch-sensitive climate controls, and plenty of shiny chrome and metallic trim. Oddly, the Avalon is not available with folding rear seats; buyers must make do with a pass-thru for the 453-litre-large trunk. While the Avalon offers available wireless device charging, it is not yet available with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The Avalon is available in Touring and Limited trims; both are generously equipped.
The Avalon Touring includes leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, 6.95-inch display audio system with navigation, reverse camera, Bluetooth, text and e-mail assistant, eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, heated seats, driver memory, proximity key with push-button start, power moonroof, full automatic LED headlamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels in dark finish.
The Limited adds premium leather upholstery, driver adjustable thigh support, eight-way power passenger seat with lumbar, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, aluminum scuff plates, ambient lighting, power rear sunshade, 11-speaker JBL audio system, wireless device charging, tri-zone climate control with colour TFT control panel, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, silver-finish 18-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, puddle lamps, automatic wipers, and LED daytime running lights.
The Avalon Touring sells for $39,900 with the Limited retailing for $44,540.