Fewer automakers offer the large class sedan because consumers are increasingly gravitating to SUVs and highly capable midsize sedans. Toyota, however, is one brand that’s still carrying the torch. The Toyota Avalon simultaneously exemplifies and upends the conventions of the class. This latest model has a V6 engine that delivers smooth acceleration. Though slightly larger than the Toyota Camry, the Avalon has acres of legroom for all occupants and a higher percentage of premium materials. The Avalon lends itself well to long road trips thanks to the supportive outboard seats and minimal wind noise. Toyota also brings performance into the picture. The Avalon, with nimble handling and quick steering, is surprisingly up to the challenge of zipping along a curvy road. There’s even a new TRD model this year with a sport-tuned suspension. If you want an uncompromising blend of performance and comfort consider the top Touring trim. It’s equipped with adaptive dampers that soften the ride or sharpen handling at the press of a button — a rare feature for this type of vehicle. With a potent 301-horsepower V6 mated to a smooth-shifting transmission, the Avalon has power to get up and go. It is also pleasant to use in most scenarios, from long road trips and afternoon cruises to day-to-day commutes and short errands around town. Braking is consistent and never grabby, which lends to its comfort in daily use.
The Avalon is surprising in its athleticism — its shockingly enjoyable handling and drivability. While not a sport sedan, this cruiser can handle twisty roads with relative ease for a vehicle of its size. Think about a mobile defensive end or tackle in football as opposed to an athletic linebacker. Comfort is a strength for the Avalon and is probably the primary reason you’d consider such a large sedan. All seating positions give you ample cushioning and support for long drives or short cruises. The leather upholstery is very soft and gives the sensation that the Avalon is more upscale than its price suggests. The ride is cushioned and makes you feel shielded from harsh roads. The cabin is cozy due to the climate control’s quick heating and cooling. While there is no rattling or shaking inside the cabin, road noise is present at all times.
The Avalon’s cabin is a nice place to be. It is roomy and user-friendly. There are even redundant key functions located on the steering wheel. Legroom is abundant, the driving position is superb due to its multitude and depth of adjustments, and visibility is great up front and modest to the sides and over the shoulder. Toyota’s Entune system and its 9-inch touchscreen are surprisingly good. Apple CarPlay support makes things so much better. The display is bright and responds well to inputs, but Toyota tends to lock out more functions while you’re driving than other carmakers.
There’s one USB port for data and four 2.1-amp power-only USBs — two up front and two in back. The front console also houses a wireless charging pad. The car’s built-in voice controls are hit-or-miss — it’s better at understanding radio commands than navigation commands. We had much more success using Siri via Apple CarPlay.
While cargo capacity is average on paper, the Avalon works out to be more convenient compared to some others due to the wide trunk opening, broad floor and convenient loading height. You might be disappointed if you’re the type who folds the rear seats to expand the space because there’s a sizable step up to the folded seats.
Inside, there are numerous small cubbies, plenty of cupholders, and a center console that’s sizable and surprisingly deep. The door pockets are average, but there are enough other options that it’s not a concern. The Avalon really shines when it comes to fitting child safety seats. The car seat anchors are easy to access, and the huge rear bench has space enough for just about any type of seat.