Thursday, May 19, 2011

Autos: 2011 Toyota Avalon

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED: $37,884 (base price: $32,995)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 211 cu in, 3456 cc
Power (SAE net): 268 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 248 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting

Wheelbase: 111.0 in Length: 197.6 in
Width: 72.8 in Height: 58.5 in
Curb weight: 3495 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 6.6 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.6 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 6.8 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.0 sec @ 95 mph
Top speed (governor limited, mfr's claim): 135 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 180 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
EPA city/highway driving: 20/29 mpg
C/D observed: 22 mpg
A car for those who fondly remember the Buicks of yore.

July 2010

On the way to conquering the universe, Toyota put a pill right down Buick’s stack. The languid Avalon, essentially a punched-out Camry with Lexus trappings, may not fascinate the street pilots who devour this magazine, but about 40,000 people are expected to lay down their greenbacks for one this year, and Toyota has a few minor changes to announce.

The fenders are new for 2011, raising the rear decklid for better aerodynamics and creating a more windswept face with a new grille at the center. A revised dash cages the instruments in separate, attractive binna­cles, and a large shingle of loss-luster plastic resembling brushed pewter contains the navigation system with its revamped con­trols. On the Limited, chrome slivers on the door handles and lower doors add a blaze of old-fashioned brightwork.

There are just two versions: the base Avalon and the Avalon Limited, tested here and now coming with standard leather and a sunroof. Otherwise, Toyota’s Arthurian super-Camry remains unchanged down to its six-speed automatic and 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, which delivers 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That’s 0.3 second slower than our previous Avalon test car, but punch the gas in traffic, and the Avalon moves out. That’s all most Avalon drivers care about.

Expressway travel is a quiet, efficient affair, though the brakes have an abrupt light-switch feel and the steering is slow and somewhat lifeless in the middle, so you’re just a bit more active correcting the Avalon’s path as it’s disturbed by crosswinds and pavement changes. Perhaps the owner clin­ics reveal that Avalon buyers like to be reminded of their first high-school cars.
The Avalon isn’t much larger than the Camry—there’s an extra 1.7 inches at the wheelbase, 8.4 inches overall, and just over an inch more in width—but it feels roomier, especially in the back, and remains a Lexus in everything but its grille badge. Here, then, is a car for those who fondly remember the Buicks of yore.


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