For around two decades, the Toyota Avalon has been the benchmark in the premium midsize sedan category, even when more rivals have started to sprout in the past few years. The Avalon still plans to remain a strong force in its category by introducing new elements for the 2016 model year. These include two distinct suspensions: one delivering a more responsive driving experience (Touring grade), and the other offer more comfortable ride (non-Touring grades). Likewise, the new Avalon now boasts of a new frontal styling, more equipment for all grades as well as a new model grade (XLE Plus).
Toyota created the Avalon to look like a luxury model. This was achieved by giving the sedan a sleek coupe-like profile, appealing chrome trim, a compartment that could accommodate in comfort up to five passengers as well as a spacious trunk with a capacity of 16-cu. ft. For the 2016 model year, the new Avalon sports a new front grille and turn signals. In this regard, the Touring grade – only available as a gas model -- now looks sportier thanks to its new grille, LED headlights as well as LED daytime running lights. It also features a new sporty suspension tuning as well as a set of 18-inches. dark gray painted alloy wheels.
Meanwhile, the XLE Plus grade represents an upgrade for the gas model, while serving as the base grade for the Avalon Hybrid. The XLE and XLE Plus models are provided, as standard with Entune Audio Plus system with seven-inch screen. They are also provided with Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link that employs a user’s smartphone to offer navigation functionality through the head unit. The XLE Premium, on the other hand, has the Entune Premium Audio with In-Vehicle Navigation and App Suite, as well as Qi wireless charging for compatible smartphones.
Furthermore, the Limited edition looks more luxurious with its new super chrome alloy wheels, which come with 17-inch rims on the Hybrid and 18-inch ones for the gas model. It is available with the optional Toyota Safety Sense-P system that is made up of a suite of driver-assist technologies like Automatic High Beam headlights, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist as well as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection.
All grades are available with a wide array of color finishes like Ooh La La Rouge Mica, Parisian Night Pearl and Sizzling Crimson Mica.
Interestingly, the luxuriously spacious interior of the Toyota Avalon is considered as one of the roomiest in the midsize category. For the interior, customers could choose from three interior color themes: almond, black and light gray with gray accent stitching. Just like all of its predecessors, the new Toyota Avalon will be known for its plush, hushed cabin. The latest iteration of the Avalon combines strategically placed sound-absorbing and sound-insulating materials. It also employs acoustic-type glass for the windshield and side glass. The A-, B- and C-pillars and rocker panels feature injected foam.
The luxurious interior of the Avalon is marked by premium amenities and design touches. For instance, the power windows slow down as they approach the top of the frames while the coin box comes with a damper for smoother opening and closing. The center panel is surrounded by elegant smoke chrome trim while the shifter is framed by a glossy trim. The steering column of the Avalon tilts and telescopes.
In terms of standard equipment, the Avalon starts out generous and becomes more lavish as the grades level up. For instance, the Avalon XLE grade features, as standard, medium-grain leather seating with an 8-way power driver's seat and 4-way power front passenger seat (both with multi-stage heating). This grade is provided with the Smart Key System – allowing operation for the driver door and trunk -- includes push-button starting. Smart Key on the passenger door is offered on higher grades. The Avalon XLE also comes with an instrument panel that employs Optitron-type gauges and a 3.5-inch TFT color multi-information display. In the Avalon Hybrid, this display comes with a Hybrid System Indicator that displays power output and regeneration. It also features a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for the Entune Audio, information display, cruise control and hands-free phone function. This steering wheel also has buttons for voice recognition and a vehicle-to-vehicle distance switch for Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Meanwhile, the Limited trim includes premium perforated leather, with a 10-way power driver's seat and 8-way power front passenger seat, both of which are heated and ventilated. This grade also features heater rear seats. The automatic climate control system of the Avalon Limited operates in three zones --including the rear seat area – unlike other grades that feature a dual-zone system. Since the Intelligent Touch controls could respond to a light touch, it could be operated even when the driver has long fingernails or is wearing gloves or longer. In addition, the Avalon Limited comes with a rear window power shade that could block sun rays for the rear passengers.
All Avalon models are fitted with a backup camera. The Limited grade, however, has superimposed dynamic guidelines on the display, showing the approximate distance from objects in the field of view of the camera.
Serving as the core of the Toyota Avalon, as standard, is 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) that could deliver 268 hp of output at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 rpm. As mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, this V6 engine allows the new Avalon to sprint from zero to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, while returning EPA-rated fuel economy number of 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway/24 mpg combined. Avalon models powered by the V6 engine are provided with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. They also offer three modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. The Eco Mode makes the Avalon more fuel efficient through a delicate balance between driving performance, air conditioning function as well as fuel efficiency. The Sport mode offers higher levels of driving experience, as made possible by adjusting throttle response, transmission shifting and electric power steering feel.
Remarkably, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid is the only hybrid vehicle offered in its segment, and one of the Toyota’s seven hybrid models for 2016. It is powered by the Hybrid Synergy Drive system that makes use of a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor, offering a combined 200 hp of output. This hybrid system could vary power between the gasoline engine and electric motor. It could even combine the power from both systems when required, with torque sent to the wheel via a distinct planetary gear-type continuously variable transmission. When the Avalon is running only on electric power (EV Drive), the air conditioning and power steering systems remains operational. These systems also continue to work even when the auto start/stop system shuts off the vehicle’s gas engine.
When the EV Drive mode is activated, the Avalon Hybrid could be driven electrically for a short distance at speeds under below 20 mph. To support the conventional brake system, regenerative braking captures the kinetic energy of the wheels and stores it in the hybrid compact nickel-metal-hydride battery.