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Toyota Avalon: 'Sleeper' Among Full-Size Sedans





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The Toyota Avalon has always been viewed here as a "sleeper." Although it's an impressive full-size sedan, the Avalon seems to fly under the radar year after year.

Every time the Avalon has been here for a week of test driving it departs with considerable appreciation. Even my wife, who loves the more expensive and classy Lexus ES350, was totally enamored with the 2014 Toyota Avalon.

The 2014 Avalon arrives with no real changes. Toyota did a complete redesign in 2013, adding to its capability in many areas. The changes added a little better feel for the road, improved the braking, and the cabin enhancements made the interior as good as any in its class.

Avalon remains true to its core values. This is a large sedan that delivers the essentials - refined handling, comfortable seating, quiet ride, solid performance, and won't require a huge car payment.

2014 Toyota Avalon

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 268 horsepower;
  • Mileage estimate range: 21-31 mpg
  • Estimated price: $31,340 to $39,650
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 2 years/25,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

Offered in four trim levels (XLE, Premium, Touring and Limited), the Avalon has some diversity. It even has a hybrid model. Despite the different trim models, there's only one engine (not including the hybrid). But it's a good one!

The Avalon delivers an impressively smooth and sedate ride. The engine is a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

Unlike some of its competitors, the Avalon doesn't get enough credit for being a terrific performing engine that can really gobble up pavement, evidenced by its six-speed automatic transmission going 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is one of the fastest times for the class.

Even with that type of performance, the Avalon gets admirable gas mileage, ranging between 21-31 mpg.

Despite being a big sedan, the Avalon has some very nice driving characteristics. It offers a responsive ride that's not far behind what some of the luxury Lexus sedans deliver. That quality makes the Avalon fun and somewhat effortless to drive. And added bonus: the Avalon is quiet.

One criticism among some auto reviewers is "ride quality might be too firm for traditional Avalon buyers." But that was not an issue that was noticed here.

There's a lot to admire with the interior as well. The Avalon cabin utilizes first-rate materials and the layout is user-friendly, a great quality to possess.

The Avalon was designed to insure comfort for both front and backseat occupants. It features large, supportive seats that are quite comfortable. It has generous trunk space -16 cubic feet - with a convenient wide opening.

What might not be appealing to some is the Entune setup, which comes standard with the Touring and Limited models, and requires owners to install an app on their cell phone and register for an account.

The Entune is several smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic and sports, and stock information.

Toyota makes a high-quality sedan in the Avalon, which is an enticing combination of style, comfort, performance and quality.

It's a smart choice if you're looking to buy for a full-size sedan.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.