In redesigning the large Avalon sedan for 2013, Toyota spiced up the proven recipe by mixing in a bit more Lexus-like cabin luxury. But it didn't get the dynamic flavor quite right.
Always packaged and marketed as a sedan for older drivers, Avalons were known for a spacious interiors, a comfortable ride, and pampering amenities. For 2013, Toyota sought to broaden the Avalon's appeal, creating a bit more engaging driving experience and some of the latest cockpit technologies. (See our sedan buying guide.)
Thus far, we have slightly mixed feelings about the success of this approach. We're currently testing two Limited models, a V6 and a hybrid. Both priced over $40,000. By now, we've logged hundreds of miles and our impressions are still solidifying, as the sedans begin their formal testing.
While trying to make the car sportier to drive, Toyota didn't get the balance quite right. The steering is no longer super light, nor the ride floaty. But the handling isn't good enough that you'd want to hustle the car down twisty roads. Worse yet, the ride is harsh and abrupt with the 18-inch wheels. We favor the 17-inchers on our hybrid model. Dynamically, the Avalon is sending mixed signals.
But there is much to like about this sedan. In fact, the interior has stepped it up, with rich materials and fine design touches. There's lots of room inside and you get a comfortable cabin for transporting full-fledged adults. Bluetooth connectivity and touch-screen interface may add some tech appeal, but we could do without the trendy flush buttons for some controls.
There is much to like about the redesigned Avalon, but thus far, our testers are wishing for a bit more suspension refinement. Score one for Lexus luxury but it's penalized for a very un-Lexuslike ride.
The video below shares more initial thoughts, as we continue testing these new cars.