2013 Toyota Avalon – Review and First Look

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DRIVING THE 2013 TOYOTA AVALON

The drive, however, wasn’t half bad. I spent some time in both hybrid and DSC_0062gasoline-powered cars, and neither put me to sleep, which is a good sign. The hybrid is a more powerful application of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, making use of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine along with an electric motor, and while able to push you back in your seat, it still had the rubber-band like driving experience that keeps full-hybrids cast in this mold far from my radar screen.

Power was more than ample for passing, and the brake pedal feel was solid, without exhibiting the ABS pulsing found in many hybrids I have driven. The V6, a carryover from the previous generation, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and achieved a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds, a full two seconds faster than the hybrid. Considering that I only got 35.5 mpg with the hybrid, I would much rather have the passing power of the V6 than the elastic-band drivetrain

DSC_0068Handling was engaging enough to drive on farm roads, thanks in part to a sport-tuned suspension out of the Camry SE. Selecting sport mode, from Sport, Eco, and either Normal (in V6 models) or EV (in Hybrids) would result in the electric power steering decreasing its boost and transmitting more road feedback to the driver. Road-feel, while middle of the road, was smooth, and the cabin was quiet, but even the smallest potholes were noticeable, which, were the Livery model to be used in New York City, could be problematic.

BOTTOM LINE

When it was first introduced, Toyota sold over 100,000 Avalons in the U.S.  Last year, that figure was closer to 30,000.  Toyota thinks that the fourth generation Avalon will remedy the situation, and that could very well be the case.

Driving the 2013 Avalon changed my opinion of the nameplate fairly significantly, from one I would sooner compare to Buick to one that I think is a competent larger sedan. It has upscale features, including a power rear sunshade and ventilated front seats typically found in more expensive vehicles, which will make it unique in its segment, but what really distinguishes it from the competition will become apparent only when behind the wheel.

 

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