Toyota redesigned its largest sedan, the flagship Avalon, as a late 2005 model. The current Avalon is bigger, roomier and more powerful than its predecessor. Changes for 2007 are minor.
Manufactured in Kentucky, Avalons come in XL, sporty Touring, XLS and top-of-the-line Limited forms. Both the Touring and XL models can be equipped with Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control, and dealers can install a towing package that allows the Avalon to tow up to 1,000 pounds.
Compared to the 2007 Camry, the Avalon is 8 inches longer overall and 1.7 inches longer in wheelbase. Toyota describes the Avalon as having "subtle" character lines and a grille that incorporates chrome-accented horizontal bars. Fog lamps are installed on all models except the XL. The XL's wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, and the other three models have 17-inchers.
Up to five people can fit inside the Avalon. The rear floor is flat, and the rear seats have reclining seatbacks. When the Avalon was redesigned for 2005, Toyota promised an extra 1.5 inches of space between the front and rear occupants, and the car's width increased by an inch for more hip and shoulder room.
The Touring edition is targeted at younger buyers; it features a unique interior with charcoal dashboard trim. The mainstream XLS model includes leather upholstery and a moonroof.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, a power driver's seat and a cassette/CD stereo. The Limited has heated seats with ventilation, rain-sensing wipers and keyless start. A navigation system is optional on Touring, XLS and Limited models.
Under the Hood
The Avalon's 3.5-liter V-6 develops 268 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. The five-speed automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shift provision.
All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, side-impact airbags and a driver's knee airbag are standard. Side curtain airbags protect front and rear occupants, and an electronic stability system is optional.
Avalons have always been excellent road cars, and the latest version continues that tradition. Despite a generally heavy feel, the Avalon accelerates with some assertiveness. You often get a smooth ride on good roads, but the decidedly taut suspension translates to considerable harshness when rolling over certain types of bumps. Steering is responsive — if a tad vague — and the Avalon maneuvers fairly easily. The easy-to-drive, well-built Avalon runs quietly.
Ample glass area helps visibility. Large, symmetrical, well-lit gauges are generally easy to read, though the trip odometer and manual-mode indicator are more difficult to see.
The well-cushioned seats are supportive but offer little side bolstering to keep occupants in place. Space is abundant up front, and legroom and foot space are more than ample in the backseat. A rear passenger's head might graze the roof, especially in the center position.