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Found 6 results

  1. When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff. The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge. Exterior Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much. The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck. Interior Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger. Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom. Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices. Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults. Infotainment Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020. If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station. Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. Performance Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT. The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph. In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid. Ride and Handling Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles. In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed. Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day. Verdict Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax. The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540. For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480. Alternatives Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: ES 350 Trim: Luxury Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,755 As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)* Options: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00 18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00 Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00 Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00 *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options. Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas); 118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43 Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,800 As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00 Carpet Mat Package - $248.00 View full article
  2. When Toyota introduced the last-generation Avalon for the 2014 model year, I was shocked by how Toyota had built the better Lexus ES. On the surface, this seems a bit crazy. But Toyota had put a lot of effort into shedding the image of Avalon of an old person’s car by bringing a modern and sleek look; luxurious interior, and a balance between a relaxing ride and sporty dynamics. This became more apparent when compared to the ES launched a couple of years earlier, looking very dated in terms of looks and driving like a cream puff. The times are a changing and the two brands have launched new versions of their respective sedans within the past year. I find myself wondering if Toyota still builds the better Lexus or if the ES has finally stepped up and can give the Avalon a real challenge. Exterior Toyota stuck with the shape of the previous Avalon but gave it some refinement. The low roofline and sloping rear glass shape are paired with more aggressive rear end featuring a full-length taillight. Where the new design falls apart is in the front. Toyota must have taken some of the pages out of Lexus’ design book on grille design as the Avalon has a massive grille. Lower trim models make do with black slats for the insert, but my Hybrid Limited tester features chrome slats that make it more polarizing. I understand Toyota wants to give the Avalon a bit more presence on the road, but this new grille design is a bit much. The ES 350 is a different story as Lexus’ designers pulled off an extensive transformation. Wearing a toned-down version of the brand’s current design language, the new ES has an overall look of something formidable and elegant. The spindle grille is front and center, but Lexus has made it slightly smaller to have fit in with the flowing lines. Other design traits include a sloping roofline and shortened rear deck. Interior Like the exterior, the ES’ interior is completely unrecognizable from the outgoing model. Gone are the cheap feeling and mismatch plastics. In their places is a combination of leather, soft-touch plastics, and wood trim that brings forth a sense of premium uniformity. Ergonomics are also top of the class with such touches as control knobs sitting on either side of the instrument panel, and controls for the climate and audio being in easy reach for driver and passenger. Those sitting in the front are treated to leather-covered seats that provide an excellent balance between support and coddle. Those sitting in the back seat might complain about the low position, but will like the ample amount of head and legroom. Stepping inside the Avalon Hybrid, Toyota has given it a major makeover. Gone is the flowing and rounded center stack with capacitive touch controls. Instead, the Avalon uses a narrower and blocky center stack with actual buttons. I’m sad to see the touch controls go away as I found them to be quite responsive. Toyota likely dropped them as buyers complained there was no feedback - a click sound or pulsation - to whoever was using it. Other changes include a slim chrome bar running along the dash vents and more color choices. Finding a comfortable position in the Avalon was no problem due to the numerous amount of power adjustments available on the Limited. Like the ES, the Avalon’s seats strike the balance of comfort and support just right. In the back, there is an abundance of legroom that allows passengers to stretch out. Headroom is fine for most adults. Infotainment Toyota has installed the latest version of Entune for the 2019 Avalon. While looking somewhat dated with a muted color palette and dull screen, Entune retains its ease of use. The menus with large touchscreen buttons make it very easy to move around the system, along with clearly marked buttons and knobs sitting on either side. Toyota has also got with times and made the Avalon the first model to feature CarPlay integration. Those wanting Android Auto will need to wait until 2020. If there is an Achilles heel to the ES 350, that would be Lexus’ Remote Touch. I have written numerously about how using this system is not only a pain, but very distracting when driving. Take for example changing an XMSirius station. Look at the screen to see where the cursor is. Use the touchpad to move the cursor to the station you want, making sure to keep an eye on the screen. Press down on the touchpad to make the selection, hoping you’re finger doesn’t slip and causes something else to happen. This whole routine plays out time and time again whenever you want to do something. Even Apple CarPlay which was introduced for 2019 is a pain to use with Remote Touch. There is salvation on the horizon. Earlier this year, Lexus unveiled an updated RX crossover with a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The automaker said that it will be available on other models in the coming years. Here’s to hoping the ES is one of the first recipients. Performance Both vehicles come with the choice of either a 3.5L V6 or hybrid system using a 2.5L four-cylinder. An eight-speed automatic is teamed with the V6. The hybrid uses a CVT. The 3.5 V6 has been given a bit more power for 2019, now producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This bump makes for a noticeable improvement in overall acceleration, feeling slightly quicker than the last ES 350 I drove. Power builds on a smooth and linear fashion. The engine is also noticeably refined, with barely a rumble coming from underneath the hood. With only a total output of 215 horsepower, the hybrid system in the Toyota Avalon may seem underpowered. This is only an issue when climbing a steep hill or needing to make an immediate pass. Otherwise, the hybrid system provides plenty of oomph for the daily drive. I like how the system seamless transitioned from electric to hybrid power with only a minimal buzz coming from the engine bay. Like other Toyota hybrids, the Avalon Hybrid can travel on electric power alone - albeit a short distance and at speeds below 25 mph. In EPA testing, the ES 350 returns 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined and the Avalon Hybrid returns 43 City/43 Highway/43 Combined. I clocked averages of 25 in the ES 350 and 40 in the Avalon Hybrid. Ride and Handling Aside from engines, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 share another vital component. Under the skin of both models is a version of Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA) known as GA-K. This variant provides the stiffer structure and lower-center of gravity found on other TGNA models, but allows both Toyota and Lexus to build larger front-wheel drive vehicles. In the Avalon Hybrid, the move to GA-K doesn’t change much. The last-generation model showed that you could have good driving dynamics and retain a mission of comfort. The new model continues that with slightly improved handling and sharper steering response. The ES 350 is a different story. Changing over to GA-K transforms the model from a creampuff on wheels to a luxury sedan with that can take corners without embarrassing itself. Body roll is significantly reduced and the steering responds to inputs without fuss. Neither one of these sedans will challenge the likes of the Germans or the Kia Stinger GT, but they will not fall over and cry uncle when pushed. Ride quality is still one of the impressive points for both models. On some of roughest, pothole-ladened streets that the Metro Detroit has on offer, the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 made it feel like mere ripples. Not much outside noise comes inside the cabin of either model, making them a perfect place to decompress after a long day. Verdict Let’s begin with the 2020 Avalon Hybrid. This updated sedan didn’t surprise me and that’s fine. Aside from the styling, Toyota made small changes to address certain issues of the previous-generation and build upon its strengths. Getting 40 MPG is still an impressive trait for such a big sedan. With a starting price tag of $35,560 for the gas version and $36,650 for the hybrid, the Avalon is still the one to buy if you want the luxuries of the ES without the luxury tax. The ES 350, on the other hand, is the more impressive of the two. You have to wonder if Lexus was motivated by what Toyota was able to pull off with last-generation Avalon. In a lot of ways, the ES 350 looks and feels like a proper luxury car. Add in a new platform that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to tip over and Lexus is very close to that idea of “Experience Amazing”. The only fault is Remote Touch which sours many of the dramatic improvements. If Lexus can get that new touchscreen into the ES ASAP, I would gladly give it my “Most Improved Car of the Year” award. How I would configure a 2019 Lexus ES 350 or Toyota Avalon Hybrid Starting with the ES 350, I would skip the base model and go with the Luxury trim. This adds such items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and ambient lighting. On top of this, I would add Blind Spot Monitoring package and a power rear sunshade. With destination, I'm out the door with a final price of $45,540. For the Avalon Hybrid, I would pick the XSE. This is positioned as the sporty model with various exterior treatments including a mesh insert for the grille. Other standard equipment includes a moonroof, leatherette and suede upholstery, and wireless phone charging. The only two options I would tick are the Ruby Flare Pearl paint and 14-Speaker JBL Audio System. Add destination and the final price comes to $41,480. Alternatives Genesis G80: A perennial favorite, the G80 slots between the Avalon Hybrid and ES 350 in terms of price - $41,750. It comes showered with loads of standard equipment and an excellent engine lineup. It cannot match the ES and Avalon in terms of interior design, but provides a more modern and easier to understand infotainment system. Ride quality is similar in all three vehicles, but the ES and Avalon have a slight edge in handling. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2019 Make: Lexus Model: ES 350 Trim: Luxury Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with Dual VVT-i V6 Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600 Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26 Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,755 As Tested Price: $45,955 (Includes $1,025 Destination Charge)* Options: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking - $1,065.00 18-Inch Split Five-Spoke Alloy Noise Reduction Wheels - $950.00 Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00 Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00 *No window sticker was provided for the ES 350. This is me taking a guess as to final price and options. Year: 2019 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, 650V Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 5,700 (Gas); 118 (88 kW) (Electric); 215 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 163 @ 3,600-5,200 (Gas) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/43/43 Curb Weight: 3,715 lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $42,800 As Tested Price: $45,118 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge) Options: Advanced Safety Package - $1,150.00 Carpet Mat Package - $248.00
  3. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 25, 2013 Can a vehicle have a midlife crisis? If your answer is the "Toyota Avalon', then the answer would be yes. For the past two generations, the Avalon was positioned for older buyers who wanted to stay in the Toyota family. This plan worked for sixteen years, but it also earned the Avalon the dubious honor of the Japanese Buick. Ouch. With the third-generation Avalon, Toyota had a quandary. Do they stick with the old person's car or do they go down a different road? They went with the latter option and made the Avalon younger. Toyota turned to their U.S. branch and gave them a mission; design and build an Avalon that attracts a younger audience. 'Younger' in this case is 40 to 60 year olds. Going younger to attract a younger audience? I decided to find out if that was possible and an Avalon Hybrid was dropped off for a week. The Avalon Hybrid is one of the more striking full-size sedans on the market today. A coupe-like roofline is the major styling point of the Avalon, helping the vehicle look much more youthful. The front end utilizes a two-tier grille layout. The bottom grille is large and wide, somehow reminding me of an Aston Martin. On top is a slim chrome bar the extends the length of the front end and features Toyota's emblem. The side features sculpturing along the doors and a distinctive line running from the front door to the trunk lid. There are also a fair number of hybrid badges throughout the Avalon Hybrid's body. Moving inside, the Avalon Hybrid is very well-appointed. In the Limited trim, you get leather throughout and stitching on the dashboard and door panels. The only item I wish Toyota would fix is the wood trim since you can tell it's plastic. Build quality is excellent. The Avalon Hybrid's center stack is one of the nicest stacks I have seen and used in awhile. You have a textured material surrounding the six or seven-inch touchscreen and climate control that feels very premium. There is also Toyota's IntelliTouch controls, which is what the brand calls the capacitive buttons throughout the center stack. Toyota deserves a lot credit with their IntelliTouch controls since they don't require someone to hit them about seventeen different times to have something happen. Touch it once and an action happens. My Avalon Hybrid came equipped with the seven-inch touchscreen which brings forth the infotainment system from Lexus. I have to say this is much better than the infotainment system used on the six-inch screen since its much better to look at and use on a daily basis with a much newer interface that has larger touch points and a bit more color. Comfort is mostly excellent throughout the interior. Driver and passenger get a set of leather seats with power adjustments and the choice of either heat or ventilation. Backseat passengers get loads of legroom. Headroom can be tight for taller passengers due to the sloping roof. On the Limited trim, backseat passengers also get heated seats. Nice touch. Enough about the comfort and luxuries, lets dive into the powertrain. Under the Avalon Hybrid's hood is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system which pairs a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric motor (105 kW and 199 pound-feet of torque). Total output stands at 200 horsepower. A continuously-variable transmission routes the power to the front wheels. With a curb weight that's over 3,500 pounds, the hybrid's powertrain specs seem a bit low. However, the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain is very much up to the job. It takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed when compared to the V6, but it offers the same smoothness and refinement. The CVT doesn't make itself known to everyone unless you floor the throttle and whine of the transmission appears. You have the choice of four different drive modes on the Avalon Hybrid to alter the behavior of the engine and other bits. They include; EV Mode: 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 To change from one mode to another, there is a set of buttons just behind the gear selector. For the majority of the week, I left the vehicle in Eco and found it to be ok in normal driving. There were times when I switched it back to normal or to sport to get moving and keep up with traffic as the throttle response wasn't there. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid is rated ay 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. During the course of a week, I averaged 40.7 MPG in mixed driving. Very impressive. As I wrote in my first drive of the Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid last November, I described the handling characteristics as being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde since it was smooth and comfortable when driven normally, but becomes surprisingly agile when pushed. I want to revisit that for a moment. Compared to the Chevrolet Impala and Kia Cadenza I recently drove, the Avalon Hybrid isn't as smooth or comfortable. I found that it would let more bumps and road imperfections into the interior. This is due to the Avalon's suspension tuning leaning more towards sport than comfort. As for driving fun, the Avalon is still tops in this class. The suspension keeps the Avalon Hybrid's body roll in check and the steering has the heft and feel that you'll find in sporty vehicles. Toyota has seemingly pulled off a fountain of youth trick with the Avalon Hybrid. A vehicle which was the equivalent of the couch you would find at your grandparent's house has undergone massive transformation into a well-done full-size sedan that offers a fine blend of fuel economy and a somewhat sporty drive. Sometimes a midlife crisis is a very good thing. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Avalon Hybrid, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Continuously-Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 5,700; (Electric) 105 kW @ 4,500; (Combined) 200 @ N/A Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 4,500; (Electric) 199 @ 0 - 1,500 rpm; (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40 Curb Weight: N/A lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $41,400.00 As Tested Price: $44,853.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $1,750.00 Blizzard Pearl Paint - $395.00 Floor and Trunk Mats - $225.00 Wireless Charging Capability for eBin - $200.00 Emergency Assistance Kit - $59.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  4. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com September 25, 2013 Can a vehicle have a midlife crisis? If your answer is the "Toyota Avalon', then the answer would be yes. For the past two generations, the Avalon was positioned for older buyers who wanted to stay in the Toyota family. This plan worked for sixteen years, but it also earned the Avalon the dubious honor of the Japanese Buick. Ouch. With the third-generation Avalon, Toyota had a quandary. Do they stick with the old person's car or do they go down a different road? They went with the latter option and made the Avalon younger. Toyota turned to their U.S. branch and gave them a mission; design and build an Avalon that attracts a younger audience. 'Younger' in this case is 40 to 60 year olds. Going younger to attract a younger audience? I decided to find out if that was possible and an Avalon Hybrid was dropped off for a week. The Avalon Hybrid is one of the more striking full-size sedans on the market today. A coupe-like roofline is the major styling point of the Avalon, helping the vehicle look much more youthful. The front end utilizes a two-tier grille layout. The bottom grille is large and wide, somehow reminding me of an Aston Martin. On top is a slim chrome bar the extends the length of the front end and features Toyota's emblem. The side features sculpturing along the doors and a distinctive line running from the front door to the trunk lid. There are also a fair number of hybrid badges throughout the Avalon Hybrid's body. Moving inside, the Avalon Hybrid is very well-appointed. In the Limited trim, you get leather throughout and stitching on the dashboard and door panels. The only item I wish Toyota would fix is the wood trim since you can tell it's plastic. Build quality is excellent. The Avalon Hybrid's center stack is one of the nicest stacks I have seen and used in awhile. You have a textured material surrounding the six or seven-inch touchscreen and climate control that feels very premium. There is also Toyota's IntelliTouch controls, which is what the brand calls the capacitive buttons throughout the center stack. Toyota deserves a lot credit with their IntelliTouch controls since they don't require someone to hit them about seventeen different times to have something happen. Touch it once and an action happens. My Avalon Hybrid came equipped with the seven-inch touchscreen which brings forth the infotainment system from Lexus. I have to say this is much better than the infotainment system used on the six-inch screen since its much better to look at and use on a daily basis with a much newer interface that has larger touch points and a bit more color. Comfort is mostly excellent throughout the interior. Driver and passenger get a set of leather seats with power adjustments and the choice of either heat or ventilation. Backseat passengers get loads of legroom. Headroom can be tight for taller passengers due to the sloping roof. On the Limited trim, backseat passengers also get heated seats. Nice touch. Enough about the comfort and luxuries, lets dive into the powertrain. Under the Avalon Hybrid's hood is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system which pairs a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle four cylinder (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric motor (105 kW and 199 pound-feet of torque). Total output stands at 200 horsepower. A continuously-variable transmission routes the power to the front wheels. With a curb weight that's over 3,500 pounds, the hybrid's powertrain specs seem a bit low. However, the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain is very much up to the job. It takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed when compared to the V6, but it offers the same smoothness and refinement. The CVT doesn't make itself known to everyone unless you floor the throttle and whine of the transmission appears. You have the choice of four different drive modes on the Avalon Hybrid to alter the behavior of the engine and other bits. They include; EV Mode: 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 To change from one mode to another, there is a set of buttons just behind the gear selector. For the majority of the week, I left the vehicle in Eco and found it to be ok in normal driving. There were times when I switched it back to normal or to sport to get moving and keep up with traffic as the throttle response wasn't there. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid is rated ay 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. During the course of a week, I averaged 40.7 MPG in mixed driving. Very impressive. As I wrote in my first drive of the Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid last November, I described the handling characteristics as being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde since it was smooth and comfortable when driven normally, but becomes surprisingly agile when pushed. I want to revisit that for a moment. Compared to the Chevrolet Impala and Kia Cadenza I recently drove, the Avalon Hybrid isn't as smooth or comfortable. I found that it would let more bumps and road imperfections into the interior. This is due to the Avalon's suspension tuning leaning more towards sport than comfort. As for driving fun, the Avalon is still tops in this class. The suspension keeps the Avalon Hybrid's body roll in check and the steering has the heft and feel that you'll find in sporty vehicles. Toyota has seemingly pulled off a fountain of youth trick with the Avalon Hybrid. A vehicle which was the equivalent of the couch you would find at your grandparent's house has undergone massive transformation into a well-done full-size sedan that offers a fine blend of fuel economy and a somewhat sporty drive. Sometimes a midlife crisis is a very good thing. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Avalon Hybrid, insurance, and one tank of gas. Year: 2013 Make: Toyota Model: Avalon Hybrid Trim: Limited Engine: 2.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i Atkinson-Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Continuously-Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 5,700; (Electric) 105 kW @ 4,500; (Combined) 200 @ N/A Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 4,500; (Electric) 199 @ 0 - 1,500 rpm; (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40 Curb Weight: N/A lbs Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, Kentucky Base Price: $41,400.00 As Tested Price: $44,853.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge) Options: Technology Package - $1,750.00 Blizzard Pearl Paint - $395.00 Floor and Trunk Mats - $225.00 Wireless Charging Capability for eBin - $200.00 Emergency Assistance Kit - $59.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  5. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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.
  6. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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. View full article

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