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William Maley

First Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid

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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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      82,564
      92,818
      -14.5
      -11.0
      389,951
      417,387
      -7.3
      -6.6
      SIENNA
      7,346
      10,434
      -32.3
      -29.6
      38,903
      46,696
      -17.3
      -16.7
      C-HR
      4,366
      1848
      127
      136
      21,908
      2398
      806.4
      813.6
      RAV4
      38,202
      38,356
      -4.2
      -0.4
      160,670
      150,646
      5.8
      6.7
      FJ CRUISER
      0
      0
      0
      0
      1
      2
      -50.4
      -50
      VENZA
      0
      0
      0
      0
      0
      11
      -100
      -100
      HIGHLANDER
      21,312
      18,115
      13.1
      17.6
      92,650
      82,738
      11.1
      12.0
      4RUNNER
      11,739
      11,014
      2.5
      6.6
      53,259
      53,098
      -0.5
      0.3
      SEQUOIA
      868
      964
      -13.4
      -10.0
      4,556
      5,349
      -15.5
      -14.8
      LAND CRUISER
      268
      259
      -0.5
      3.5
      1,291
      1,292
      -0.9
      -0.1
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. SUV
      76,755
      70,556
      4.6
      8.8
      334,335
      295,534
      12.2
      13.1
      TACOMA
      21,380
      17,654
      16.4
      21.1
      93,970
      78,154
      19.3
      20.2
      TUNDRA
      10,062
      10,677
      -9.4
      -5.8
      45,837
      43,809
      3.8
      4.6
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. PICKUP
      31,442
      28,331
      6.7
      11.0
      139,807
      121,963
      13.7
      14.6
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. TRUCK
      115,543
      109,321
      1.6
      5.7
      513,045
      464,193
      9.7
      10.5
      NX
      4,975
      5,009
      -4.5
      -0.7
      23,810
      21,426
      10.3
      11.1
      RX
      9,697
      8,849
      5.4
      9.6
      41,197
      38,329
      6.6
      7.5
      GX
      2018
      1851
      4.8
      9.0
      9,521
      9,157
      3.2
      4.0
      LX
      524
      404
      24.7
      29.7
      2,186
      2,299
      -5.7
      -4.9
      TOTAL LEXUS TRUCK
      17,214
      16,113
      2.7
      6.8
      76,714
      71,211
      6.9
      7.7
      TOTAL TOYOTA TRUCK
      132,757
      125,434
      1.8
      5.8
      589,759
      535,404
      9.3
      10.2
      Selling Days
      26
      25
          127
      126
          DSR = Daily Selling Rate
                          *NA Built Vehicles 
      TOYOTA  U.S. SALES SUMMARY
        MAY, 2018
        -- CURRENT MONTH --
      -- CALENDAR YEAR TO DATE --
                          2018
      2017
      DSR %
      VOL %
      2018
      2017
      DSR %
      VOL %
      COROLLA
      27,052
      30,942
      -15.9
      -12.6
      123,858
      136,164
      -9.8
      -9.0
      CAMRY
      28,875
      32,547
      -14.7
      -11.3
      139,680
      147,434
      -6.0
      -5.3
      AVALON
      2,669
      2,872
      -10.6
      -7.1
      16,499
      14,215
      15.2
      16.1
      YARIS IA (INCL SCI IA)
      2,861
      3,444
      -20.1
      -16.9
      13,430
      15,758
      -15.4
      -14.8
      RAV4
      16,769
      17,580
      -8.3
      -4.6
      70,412
      70,483
      -0.9
      -0.1
      VENZA
      0
      0
      0.0
      0.0
      0
      11
      -100.0
      -100.0
      HIGHLANDER
      21,312
      18,115
      13.1
      17.6
      92,650
      82,738
      11.1
      12.0
      SIENNA
      7,346
      10,434
      -32.3
      -29.6
      38,903
      46,696
      -17.3
      -16.7
      SEQUOIA
      868
      964
      -13.4
      -10.0
      4,556
      5,349
      -15.5
      -14.8
      TACOMA
      21,380
      17,654
      16.4
      21.1
      93,970
      78,154
      19.3
      20.2
      TUNDRA
      10,062
      10,677
      -9.4
      -5.8
      45,837
      43,809
      3.8
      4.6
      ES
      3,400
      3,335
      -2.0
      1.9
      14,544
      12,864
      12.2
      13.1
      RX
      5,834
      8,301
      -32.4
      -29.7
      32,391
      35,626
      -9.8
      -9.1
      TOTAL
      148,428
      156,865
      -9.0
      -5.4
      686,730
      689,301
      -1.2
      -0.4
      N.A VEHICLES % OF TOTAL
      68.9%
      71.9%
          70.1%
      72.3%
          TOYOTA DIV. IMPORT CAR
      12,930
      13,722
      -9.4
      -5.8
      61,948
      65,662
      -6.4
      -5.7
      LEXUS IMPORT CAR
      4,777
      5,956
      -22.9
      -19.8
      19,992
      25,290
      -21.6
      -20.9
      TOYOTA DIV NA BUILT CARS
      61,457
      69,805
      -15.3
      -12.0
      293,467
      313,571
      -7.1
      -6.4
      LEXUS NA BUILT CARS
      3,400
      3,335
      -2.0
      1.9
      14,544
      12,864
      12.2
      13.1
      TOTAL TOYOTA CARS
      82,564
      92,818
      -14.5
      -11.0
      389,951
      417,387
      -7.3
      -6.6
      TOYOTA DIV. IMPORT TRUCK
      37,806
      33,897
      7.2
      11.5
      166,717
      136,953
      20.8
      21.7
      LEXUS IMPORT TRUCK
      11,380
      7,812
      40.1
      45.7
      44,323
      35,585
      23.6
      24.6
      TOYOTA DIV NA BUILT TRUCK
      77,737
      75,424
      -0.9
      3.1
      346,328
      327,240
      5.0
      5.8
      LEXUS NA BUILT TRUCK
      5,834
      8,301
      -32.4
      -29.7
      32,391
      35,626
      -9.8
      -9.1
      TOTAL TOYOTA TRUCK
      132,757
      125,434
      1.8
      5.8
      589,759
      535,404
      9.3
      10.2
      Selling Days
      26
      25
          127
      126
                              TOYOTA  U.S. HYBRID SALES SUMMARY
        APRIL, 2018
        -- Current Month --
        -- Calendar Year To Date --  
        2018
      2017
      DSR %
        2018
      2017
      DSR %
        Toyota Prius Sedan
      4,760
      6,065
      -24.5%
        20,554
      27,636
      -26.2%
        Toyota Prius V(only)
      170
      929
      -82.4%
        1,882
      4,474
      -58.3%
        Toyota Prius C(only)
      818
      1,121
      -29.8%
        3,873
      6,182
      -37.8%
        Toyota Prius PRIME(only)
      2,924
      1,908
      47.4%
        12,018
      8,074
      47.7%
        Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
      4,268
      4,070
      0.8%
        19,347
      17,061
      12.5%
        Lexus NX Hybrid
      762
      228
      221.4%
        3,077
      1,048
      191.3%
        Lexus RX Hybrid
      1,359
      747
      74.9%
        4,407
      3,025
      44.5%
         
    • By William Maley
      Before the new Corolla hatchback hits dealers later this summer, Toyota has revealed pricing and fuel economy numbers.
      The base SE will set you back $20,910 (includes a $920 destination charge), while the XSE begins at $23,910. That will net you a new 2.0L four-cylinder with 168 horsepower and a six-speed manual. A CVT is available for an additional $1,100.
      This is what you get on either trim:
      SE:  Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning; 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility, and 16-inch wheels. XSE: 18-inch wheels, LED fog lamps, upgraded infotainment system, leather-and-fabric upholstery, and heated front seats.  As for fuel economy, the SE with the CVT is the mileage leader with EPA estimates of 32 City/42 Highway/36 Combined. The XSE CVT is next with figures of 30/38/33. For the manual, Toyota only has figures for the SE which are 28/37/31. Numbers on the XSE manual are coming soon.
      Source: Toyota

      View full article
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