The new Toyota Avalon gets a complete facelift. It is slightly more compact, more aerodynamic, and in the process less bulky. Still, ‘spacious’ is an understatement inside the new Avalon cabin. Here is the new version of Toyota’s mainstream sedan in which the driver can easily make way for a chauffeur.
UPSIDE: Less bulky and more stylish, fuel efficient, Luxury segment features, Improved backseat comfort
FLIPSIDE: Vague steering, Uninspiring drive, Reduced headroom
PRICE: Toyota Avalon 2013 “S” – AED128000, “SE” – AED 134000, “SE+” – AED 149000 and “Limited” – AED 154000
If you initially think the smiley new trademark grille looks a tad silly for the flagship car of Toyota, the really wide and large lower grille and air vents make up for that, adding more purpose to the facade. However, the rear design is what is even more appealing in the all-new Avalon. Those wraparound lights won’t be out of place in a Lexus. It is a pretty long car, and while the narrowing lower profile adds to the aerodynamics, it takes away a little from the headroom.
Cabin and Controls
Where the car really climbs a notch up is in the creature comforts that the cabin offers. The elegant cabin is nicely finished with leather and wood like appointments, especially on the dash, the door sides and the console.
The uplifting interiors get a dash of luxury or a touch of luxury, pun intended in both cases. The new Avalon features a driver-friendly dash, this time with a very responsive touch operative system. Easy to access on the drive, the touch screen is reasonably responsive but what’s really impressive are the touch controls on the console itself.
While I’ve always found the name Avalon to be almost theatrical, the new car gets its share of dramatic gadgetry as well. Unable to find a slot to insert a CD, I anyway pressed the ‘load’ button, and hopefully muttered “Open sesame!” – and the cave doors parted! I mean, the touchscreen rolled over revealing the CD slot within.
The front seats are ventilated with warm or cool options. I settled into the rather comfortable seat with lumbar as well as extended knee support and got ready for the drive. Now that brings us to the drive itself.
Whatever some loony test drivers like me would say, it’s hard to leave behind the character that has endeared a car to its large family of buyers. So, the flagship of Toyota proudly flaunts its as-vague-as-it-gets steering once again. Well, nothing goes awry on the drive but for an occasional hurtling down feeling which, in conjunction with the vague steering, doesn’t make for an especially gratifying time for the driver but hey, the Avalon is a passenger’s car. With a ride comfort almost as good as a Lexus and a similarly silent cabin, the new Avalon is very much in character for a luxurious large sedan designed for the back seat passenger.
On the console, the eco, normal and sport buttons sit around a knob as is standard to most sedans these days. While the ‘sport mode’ does add its bit of excitement to the drive – raising the rpm levels is mostly what it does – there isn’t a world of difference among the three. Which is actually a good thing, because you don’t mind engaging the plain and practical eco drive for long distances. Anyway, it doesn’t take more than a light push of the throttle to overcome the mild resistance of the Eco mode – mild enough to put up with, for the sake of better fuel economy. The new Avalon returned more than 8 kms per litre in my test – pretty good for a 3.5L engine car. The powerful engine took the large sedan from 0 to 100 kmph in 7.27 seconds without fuss, but braking felt slightly squishy at times.
The SE+ does not get the optional blind spot monitor or radar cruise control but it does have almost annoyingly alert front and rear parking sensors, a decent rear view camera and a navigation system that offers pretty much the standard fare.
While there is ample legroom as ever, the seating angle has actually got even better with more supportive rear seats. The boot is roomy but nothing pathbreaking for a car of its size.
The provisions for storage inside the new Toyota Avalon are thoughtfully laid out. There is even a velvet clad niche right under the protruding dashboard control panel.
The Essential all new Toyota Avalon 2014
Every car has its strength and the Avalon is not a car that bids for the driver’s favour with its handling prowess, even though it is a pretty easy large sedan to move about and comes with paddle shift toggles as well. Toyota Avalon leaves its passengers feeling good without paying the premium for luxury and is a great alternative for value-conscious CEOs, or for wives who relinquish their front seat to be with the toddler. If there is a car that deserves the title of a “limousine among affordable large sedans”, this is it!
Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors
Picture courtesy: Sudeep Koshy