Toyota wants people to think about traveling in "Avalon Class" when shopping for a large front-wheel drive premium sedan. The changes to Toyota's big sedan are fairly minor, but Toyota promises it will be enough to give the Avalon better positioning.
The 2011 Avalon's general structure and form remains similar to last year's car, but now receives a larger front grille that's flanked by slimmer projector headlights. Its foglights get new encasings and additional chrome outlines the greenhouse and chiseled skirts. To the rear, its dual exhaust integrates smoothly into the bolder diffuser, while a sculpted trunk lid gives the hindquarters more pizzazz. Taillights now incorporate LED elements and encompass the reverse and turn signals into one sleeker package. The fresh wheel designs add to the model's new look.
Much time was taken to revamp its interior as well. New color choices and premium touch points aim to uplift the sedan close to the luxury echelon. Two trim levels -- Avalon and Limited -- are available and come standard with an eight-way power driver seat, backup camera, dual zone climate control, moonroof, and 17-inch wheels. Step up to the Limited and a power passenger seat, driver seat cushion extension, rain sensing wipers, smart key, and cooled seats are included in the standard features list. Optional on both is a JBL Synthesis sound system, heated seats, and navigation.
Passengers are also welcomed by standard Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB and auxiliary ports, and as we just mentioned, a revised DVD-based navigation. The nav's maps and usability are said to be easier and quicker to use. More backseat room is attained thanks to enlarged reclining seats. For added convenience, there's an electronically controlled rear window shade.
The sole engine option -- a 3.5-liter V-6 VVT-I -- remains in place but is tuned for improved fuel economy and lower emissions. The ULEV-certified mill pumps out 268-horsepower at 6200 rpm and 248 pound-feet of torque at 4700 rpm while mated to its six-speed automatic gearbox. The combo also returns an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg highway, or 23 mpg combined. That's a slight improvement over last year's 19/28/23 rating.
Safety features include a seven airbag safety net, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and TRAC traction control. And yes, the model comes replete with a redesigned accelerator pedal and brake override system.
Three new exterior colors -- Zephyr Blue Metallic, Cypress Pearl and Sizzling Crimson Mica -- have been added to the color pallet. Avalon grade buyers can choose from three leather colors that include Ivory, Light Gray, and Black, while Limited grade owners can specify Ivory, Light Gray, and Black Bordeaux.
Look for it to hit U.S. dealership this spring.