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    First Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    November 26, 2012

    Toyota is in the midst of a sea change. The company who is currently known as the brand who builds bland, boring, and reliable vehicles has been issued an edict by CEO Akio Toyoda to design and build vehicles with passion. We’re beginning to see some of the fruits of this edict bear out with the Scion FR-S and Lexus GS.

    Now, Toyota has introduced the next vehicle to follow this in the form of the 2013 Avalon. You might be wondering, the Avalon?! Well yes, Toyota wants break the adage that Avalon is for old people by giving the new Avalon a very sleek look, new interior, and a sporty ride. Does the change from couch on wheels to sport-infused big sedan work?

    gallery_10485_492_123947.png

    The big thing Toyota hammered into our heads during the regional press preview in Ann Arbor, MI besides 'the new Avalon isn’t your grandfather’s car', was that the new Avalon was built with America in mind. Bill Fay, Group Vice President & General Manager, Toyota Division said during the Detroit launch, the new Avalon is “designed, engineered, manufactured, sold and serviced in America, the 2013 Avalon marks the beginning of a new era for Toyota… with the company developing more vehicles here specifically for the U.S. market.”

    Toyota's CALTY Design Research group was in charge of the new Avalon’s design and they did an excellent job. The overall look chucks the plain box look of past Avalons and goes for something that is very sleek and muscular. Up front, the most prominent design touch is a two-tiered grille layout. The bottom features a large chrome grille that makes a reference to new Aston Martin models. Above the chrome grille is a wide chrome strip with the Toyota emblem sitting in the middle. The side profile features a lot of deep contours, a coupe-like roofline, and a raked c-pillar. The back end gets two-tiered taillights and dual exhaust outlets.

    gallery_10485_492_452107.png

    gallery_10485_492_792457.png

    Inside the Avalon, Toyota put a lot of emphasis on making the Avalon look and feel very special. Materials range from soft-touch plastics, stitched door and dash panels, and leather seats. The only ding I’ll give the Avalon’s interior is the use of ‘plood’, it really doesn’t belong in this very handsome interior. The center stack features either a 6.1 or 7-inch touchscreen (depends on model), climate control, and what Toyota calls IntelliTouch controls, which are capacitive buttons. The capacitive buttons responded very quickly when pressed.

    gallery_10485_492_889642.png

    Also appearing inside the new Avalon is Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune uses your smartphone to provide applications like Bing, OpenTable, iHeartRadio, and Pandora in the vehicle. Entune also provides traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks info. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to play around with Entune during the event. Hopefully when I do get a vehicle equipped with Entune, I can go deeper into it.

    While the outgoing and new Avalon share the same wheelbase length, the new model is actually smaller in all exterior dimensions. Interior dimensions are largely unchanged from the outgoing model, meaning there is a load of head and legroom through out the new model.

    For safety, the new Avalon comes equipped a Rear Cross Traffic Warning system which warns the driver of vehicles in the way when reversing. There is also a Blind Spot Monitoring system, ten airbags, radar cruise-control, and optionally, a Pre-Collision System.

    Next: Shall We Drive?


    The new Avalon uses the same 3.5L V6 engine from the last-generation Avalon. The engine is rated at 268 HP and 248 lb-ft of torque going through a six speed automatic. The engine has got the oomph to move car at a very rapid pace, something that cannot be said of the previous Avalon. This is mostly due to weight loss of the new Avalon, dropping around 110 lbs from the outgoing model. The engine is also very smooth and quiet when you decide to drive it at a normal pace.

    gallery_10485_492_1224360.png

    The six-speed automatic provides is well-suited for this application providing some very smooth shifts. Toyota also fitted paddle shifters and ‘Dynamic Rev Management’, which blips the throttle on a downshift. On paper this sounds completely ridiculous for a big sedan like the Avalon, but when you actually try it, it works beautifully. I do wonder though if the age group that the new Avalon is targeted at (40 to 60 year olds) will actually use this feature.

    For those who are looking for some greenness in their big sedan will lean towards the new for this generation Avalon Hybrid. The Hybrid comes equipped with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive which in this uses a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder producing 156 HP and 156 lb-ft of torque, a electric motor with 105 kW and 199 lb-ft of torque, and a nickel-metal hydride battery. Total system output is 200 HP going through a CVT.

    gallery_10485_492_402635.png

    Performance is adequate with the run to 60 MPH taking about 8.2 seconds, about 1.5 seconds slower than the V6. Otherwise, the powertrain is very quiet and smooth whenever you’re in electric or hybrid mode. The CVT is a does a good job of keeping you moving and doesn’t make its presence known unless you push the pedal further down and the engine noise is abundant.

    The handling characteristics of the new Avalon and Avalon Hybrid can be described as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When driven normally, the Avalon provides a very luxurious and gentle ride. Wind and road noise are kept to a minimum. It’s only when you take the Avalon onto a curvy road and show it some aggression that Mr. Hyde appears. Despite being a large sedan, the Avalon shows a surprising amount of agility when driven through a corner. The suspension keeps the Avalon planted while the steering has the right amount of weight and firm feel that you would want in a sporty vehicle. This is a one-eighty from the last-generation Avalon which had all the steering feel of a used-and-abused arcade racing game. Plus, the old Avalon felt like it going to tip over when driven enthusiastically due to its marshmallow-fluff suspension.

    So how was Toyota able to pull this coup off with the new Avalon? For one, Toyota added a number of welds to the new Avalon’s body giving it more rigidity. Toyota also fitted Dual link MacPherson struts in the back, stabilizer bars, and a new electric rack-and-pinion steering system. Finally, there is drive mode select which offers three different modes (four in the Avalon Hybrid) which modifies throttle response and steering effort. The modes are as followed,

    • EV Mode (Only on Avalon Hybrid): Allows a vehicle to travel on electric power for a short distance
    • Eco Mode: Increases the resistance to push down on the pedal, adjusts engine and climate control for better fuel economy.
    • Sport Mode: Adjusts throttle and steering response
    • Normal Mode: Balance between Eco and Sport

    The new Avalon goes on sale next month with a base price around $31,750 (includes the $760 destination charge) for the XLE V6. If you want the Avalon Hybrid, be prepared to shell out $36,315 for the XLE Premium. Toyota expects to sell around 70,000 Avalons within the first year, a huge increase from 23,078 Avalons sold through October this year. Toyota expects 80% of the new 2013 Avalon to be the V6 while the rest will be the hybrid.

    Toyota has taken their couch on wheels and has made the new Avalon into a big sedan that is able to balance comfort and sport pretty well. Will the Avalon's new balancing act bring in the younger generation of buyers that Toyota is aiming for?

    gallery_10485_492_887739.png

    Author's Note: Special thanks to Toyota and Toyota’s Midwest PR office for inviting Cheers & Gears to check out the new Avalon, and providing breakfast and lunch at the Weber’s Boutique Hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan. -WM

    Year - 2013

    Make – Toyota

    Model – Avalon

    Engine – 3.5L DOHC 24-valve dual VVT-i V6

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 268 HP (@ 6,200 RPM)

    Torque @ RPM – 248 lb-ft (@ 4,700 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25 w/17-inch wheels, 21/31/24 w/18-inch wheels

    Curb Weight – 3,461 lbs

    Year - 2013

    Make – Toyota

    Model – Avalon Hybrid

    Engine – Hybrid Synergy Drive: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i Atkinson cycle 4-Cylinder, Electric Motor

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, CVT, Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) Battery Pack

    Horsepower @ RPM – 2.5L: 156 HP (@ 5,700 RPM); Electric: 105 kW (@ 4,500); Combined: 200 HP

    Torque @ RPM – 2.5L: 156 lb-ft (@ 4,500 RPM); Electric: 199 lb-ft (@ 0-1,500 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40

    Curb Weight – 3,585 lbs

    - 2013 Avalon Pricing:

    • XLE: $31,750
    • XLE Premium: $33,955
    • XLE Touring: $36,260
    • Limited: $40,410

    - 2013 Avalon Hybrid Pricing:

    • XLE Premium: $36,315
    • XLE Touring: $38,010
    • Limited: $42,160

    *Note: All prices include a $760 destination charge.

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    I like the design of this thing, in and out. The dash is not subscribing to the sameness of so many other cars that have a prominent center stack sweeping into the console, it is different. I also think plood adds warmth to an interior, and this one is no exception.

    The exterior is sporty, really surprising in a good way v. earlier iterations of this model. It does adhere to the long roof, six-window, fastback, short deck sedan school of design pioneered in the modern age by the Audi A7, and shared by the Fusion, '14 Impala and MKZ, among others (arguably, the Benz CLS may have started the trend, but that car had a droopy tail and a little different proportion, imo). It is sweeping and dramatic, but since so many cars share it now, hopefully it doesn't become cliche too soon.

    It appears that Toyota has kept a relatively low beltline here, something that is also a refreshing change from recent design convention. It contributes to a slimmer profile and, hopefully, better visibility, which has been the bane of high beltline cars from all over the map.

    Seeing this sporty new Avalon makes me nostalgic for Mercury, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. The mind wanders, thinking of the possibilities their respective design teams could have come up with on a Milan/Marquis, Cutlass/Aurora, or Grand Prix/Bonneville that adheres to this school of form. Now it is left up to a foreign brand, Toyota, to take up the slack by hiring American designers who don't have a problem helping Japan. Misty for past glories, I guess I am.

    Edited by ocnblu
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    Good post, ocnblu...Interesting observation re: Mercury, Olds and Pontiac. It is too bad that so much has slipped away from the domestic brands.

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    Good post, ocnblu...Interesting observation re: Mercury, Olds and Pontiac. It is too bad that so much has slipped away from the domestic brands.

    While the history of these past brands is great, one has to admit that there were way to many brands and non profitable lines.

    I look for GM ot strengthen their products now by taking from their rich history and putting it into a deeper bench of fewer product lines.

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    They could have dropped Saab, Saturn, Hummer, most of Opel/Holden (keep the R&D centers), not given $2billion to Fiat, and instead focus on just the core brands (including Oldsmobile) that got them to the place of largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

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    It's okay I guess. The new Impala IMO looks much better though. I doubt it will attract many younger buyers and the plood that is often griped about in today's cars in well placed here.

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      RAV4 Adventure
      The active lifestyle-inspired RAV4 Adventure will be available in front-wheel drive with an Automatic Limited-Slip Differential, or with Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel-drive.  Both versions feature a standard Tow Prep Package that includes an upgraded radiator and supplemental engine oil and transmission fluid coolers, as well as a suspension system with a higher ride height.  As with all RAV4 models, the Adventure grade will come standard with Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), and TSS-P.  Exterior styling features exclusive to the RAV4 Adventure includes:
      Large overfender flares 18-inch five-spoke black alloy wheels with 235/55R18 tires Lower body guards Black headlight bezels Black fog lamp surround, roof racks and Adventure badging The RAV4 Adventure will be available in five exterior colors including Black, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Super White, and one new color for RAV4 models, Ruby Flare Pearl.
      The sporty exterior features of the RAV4 Adventure are mated to exclusive interior features that include:
      Unique interior trim panels Leather-wrapped shift knob 120V/100W power outlet in the cargo area Adventure door sill protectors All-weather mats floor and cargo mats with Adventure logo Additional features new for 2018 in select RAV4 models include optional heat/power fabric front row seats, heated steering wheel, and wiper de-icer as part of a new Cold Weather Package.
      The 2018 RAV4 Adventure grade along with the Tundra and Sequoia TRD Sport grades will begin arriving in dealer showrooms in September.
    • By dfelt
      G. David Felt
      Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com
       
      24/7 Wall St reports Tesla Loses in Safety Test to Chevy and Toyota

      For 2017 electric / hybrid auto rating, Tesla looses to GM and Toyota the safety crown. Tesla has stated that they have already corrected the safety issues but were unable to deliver an updated auto for testing. It will be retested later this year. Errors happen, be interesting to see how the BOLT tests out.
      24/7 Wall St. Story
    • By William Maley
      Toyota Motor North America Reports January 2017 Sales
      Toyota division posts best-ever January in RAV4, Highlander TCUV posted 17th consecutive month of best-ever monthly sales L/Certified by Lexus achieves best-ever January sales Plano, Texas (February 1, 2017) – Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), Inc., today reported its U.S. January 2017 sales of 143,048 vehicles, a decrease of 11.3 percent from January 2016 on a volume basis. With the same number of selling days in January 2017 compared to January 2016, sales were down 11.3 percent on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis. 
       
      Toyota division posted January sales of 127,476 units, down 9.2 percent on a volume basis and DSR basis.
       
      “Coming off a record December and year in 2016, the industry in January took a bit of a pause with volume down slightly vs. a year ago,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division.  “Much improved Light Truck availability helped RAV4 and Highlander begin the year with record January sales.”
       
      Lexus posted January sales of 15,572 vehicles, down 25.6 percent on a volume basis and DSR basis.
       
      “January proved to be a challenging month driven by limited LUV availability and the strength of our December results,” said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager of the Lexus division. “Our outstanding December of nearly 41,000 resulted in a low days’ supply for our core models, especially in metro markets. We are continuing to replenish dealer inventories and expect healthy levels in February. Our dealers did achieve a best-ever January in L/Certified sales with more than 7,900 sales.”
       
      January 2017 Highlights  
      Camry posts January sales of 20,313 units Toyota division SUV up 8 percent in January Highlander posts best-ever January, up 12.4 percent RAV4 posts best-ever January with sales of 22,155 units, up 2.8 percent 4Runner sales were up 16 percent TCUV had a best-ever January and 17 consecutive months of  best-ever monthly sales RX posts sales of 5,520 L/Certified by Lexus posts best-ever January sales of 7,901, up 9.2 percent from January 2016  *Note:  Unless otherwise stated, all figures reflect unadjusted raw sales volume
      TOYOTA  U.S. SALES SUMMARY
      JANUARY 2017
        -- CURRENT MONTH --
      -- CALENDAR YEAR TO DATE --     
                          2017
      2016
      DSR %
      VOL %
      2017
      2016
      DSR %
      VOL %
      TOTAL TOYOTA
      143,048
      161,283
      -11.3
      -11.3
      143,048
      161,283
      -11.3
      -11.3
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV
      127,476
      140,350
      -9.2
      -9.2
      127,476
      140,350
      -9.2
      -9.2
      TOTAL LEXUS
      15,572
      20,933
      -25.6
      -25.6
      15,572
      20,933
      -25.6
      -25.6
                        YARIS IA (INCL SCI IA)
      1,951
      1,840
      6
      6
      1,951
      1,840
      6
      6
      YARIS LIFTBACK
      1330
      548
      142.7
      142.7
      1,330
      548
      142.7
      142.7
      TOTAL YARIS
      3,281
      2,388
      37.4
      37.4
      3,281
      2,388
      37.4
      37.4
      iQ
      0
      2
      -100
      -100
      0
      2
      -100
      -100
      xD
      0
      3
      -100
      -100
      0
      3
      -100
      -100
      xB
      0
      782
      -100
      -100
      0
      782
      -100
      -100
      tC
      72
      715
      -89.9
      -89.9
      72
      715
      -89.9
      -89.9
      COROLLA IM (INCL SCI IM)
      1,460
      1,250
      16.8
      16.8
      1,460
      1,250
      16.8
      16.8
      COROLLA SEDAN
      20,107
      22,362
      -10.1
      -10.1
      20,107
      22,362
      -10.1
      -10.1
      TOTAL COROLLA
      21,567
      23,612
      -8.7
      -8.7
      21,567
      23,612
      -8.7
      -8.7
      86 (INCL FR-S)
      474
      507
      -6.5
      -6.5
      474
      507
      -6.5
      -6.5
      MIRAI
      83
      26
      219.2
      219.2
      83
      26
      219.2
      219.2
      AVALON
      2,503
      3,597
      -30.4
      -30.4
      2,503
      3,597
      -30.4
      -30.4
      PRIUS
      7,829
      9,311
      -15.9
      -15.9
      7,829
      9,311
      -15.9
      -15.9
      CAMRY
      20,313
      26,848
      -24.3
      -24.3
      20,313
      26,848
      -24.3
      -24.3
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. CAR
      56,122
      67,791
      -17.2
      -17.2
      56,122
      67,791
      -17.2
      -17.2
                        CT
      393
      622
      -36.8
      -36.8
      393
      622
      -36.8
      -36.8
      IS
      1,423
      2,178
      -34.7
      -34.7
      1,423
      2,178
      -34.7
      -34.7
      RC
      447
      755
      -40.8
      -40.8
      447
      755
      -40.8
      -40.8
      ES
      2,171
      3,400
      -36.1
      -36.1
      2,171
      3,400
      -36.1
      -36.1
      GS
      422
      1,298
      -67.5
      -67.5
      422
      1,298
      -67.5
      -67.5
      LS
      280
      397
      -29.5
      -29.5
      280
      397
      -29.5
      -29.5
      LFA
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      TOTAL LEXUS CAR
      5,136
      8,651
      -40.6
      -40.6
      5,136
      8,651
      -40.6
      -40.6
      TOTAL TOYOTA CAR
      61,258
      76,442
      -19.9
      -19.9
      61,258
      76,442
      -19.9
      -19.9
                        SIENNA
      7,285
      10,992
      -33.7
      -33.7
      7,285
      10,992
      -33.7
      -33.7
      RAV4
      22,155
      21,554
      2.8
      2.8
      22,155
      21,554
      2.8
      2.8
      FJ CRUISER
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      VENZA
      4
      184
      -97.8
      -97.8
      4
      184
      -97.8
      -97.8
      HIGHLANDER
      12,656
      11,258
      12.4
      12.4
      12,656
      11,258
      12.4
      12.4
      4RUNNER
      8,699
      7,496
      16
      16
      8,699
      7,496
      16
      16
      SEQUOIA
      1146
      852
      34.5
      34.5
      1,146
      852
      34.5
      34.5
      LAND CRUISER
      272
      273
      -0.4
      -0.4
      272
      273
      -0.4
      -0.4
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. SUV
      44,932
      41,618
      8
      8
      44,932
      41,618
      8
      8
                        TACOMA
      12,509
      12,717
      -1.6
      -1.6
      12,509
      12,717
      -1.6
      -1.6
      TUNDRA
      6,628
      7,232
      -8.4
      -8.4
      6,628
      7,232
      -8.4
      -8.4
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. PICKUP
      19,137
      19,949
      -4.1
      -4.1
      19,137
      19,949
      -4.1
      -4.1
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. TRUCK
      71,354
      72,559
      -1.7
      -1.7
      71,354
      72,559
      -1.7
      -1.7
                        NX
      2,964
      3,133
      -5.4
      -5.4
      2,964
      3,133
      -5.4
      -5.4
      RX
      5,520
      6,956
      -20.6
      -20.6
      5,520
      6,956
      -20.6
      -20.6
      GX
      1,418
      1,608
      -11.8
      -11.8
      1,418
      1,608
      -11.8
      -11.8
      LX
      534
      585
      -8.7
      -8.7
      534
      585
      -8.7
      -8.7
      TOTAL LEXUS TRUCK
      10,436
      12,282
      -15
      -15
      10,436
      12,282
      -15
      -15
      TOTAL TOYOTA TRUCK
      81,790
      84,841
      -3.6
      -3.6
      81,790
      84,841
      -3.6
      -3.6
      Selling Days
      24
      24
          24
      24
          DSR = Daily Selling Rate
                   
    • By William Maley
      Toyota has announced that October 3, 2017 will be the date it will cease Australian production at their plant in Altona - a suburb of Melbourne. The date is 17 days before Holden shutters its production line in Elizabeth. In a statement, Toyota is planning to keep the AM and PM shifts at the plant until the plant closes. This is to ensure the company meets their goal of 61,000 vehicles for the year - 26,600 domestic and 34,400 exports.
      "Our priority over the remaining months is to continue to support our employees in every way possible so that they are well prepared for the future," said Toyota Australia President Dave Buttner in a statement.
      "We remain extremely proud of our rich manufacturing history which spans over 50 years. Our employees are committed to producing vehicles of the highest quality as we work towards our goal of 'last car = best global car'."
      Toyota will begin phasing out production of various models beginning in August with the Aurion. This will be followed by the Camry Hybrid in September, and the standard Camry on October 3rd.
      Once the Altona plant is closed, Toyota will begin importing the 2018 Camry from Japan.
      Source: CarAdvice, Toyota
      Press Release is on Page 2


      31 January 2017
      TOYOTA AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES CLOSURE DATE
      Toyota Australia has today announced that Tuesday 3 October 2017 will be its final day of vehicle production at its Altona manufacturing plant.
      As part of the shutdown process, the plant will stop building Aurion vehicles in August, Camry Hybrid vehicles in September and Camry Petrol vehicles in October.
      The company will continue operating both AM and PM shifts until the final closure date. This will ensure the total volume production of 61,000 vehicles for the year, made up of 26,600 domestic and 34,400 exports, is met. 
      Toyota Australia President Dave Buttner reinforced the company's commitment to supporting employees throughout the transition period and beyond.
      "Our priority over the remaining months is to continue to support our employees in every way possible so that they are well prepared for the future," Mr Buttner said. 
      "We remain extremely proud of our rich manufacturing history which spans over 50 years. Our employees are committed to producing vehicles of the highest quality as we work towards our goal of 'last car = best global car'."
      As part of Toyota Australia's transition to a national sales and distribution company, the consolidation of all corporate functions from Sydney to Melbourne will take effect by 1 January 2018. 
      As a result of this consolidation and closure of manufacturing, the number of employees will reduce from 3,900 people to approximately 1,300. 
      The head office will continue to be based in Port Melbourne and most of the Altona manufacturing site will be retained for new and relocated functions.

      View full article
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