2013 Toyota Avalon

The Toyota Avalon usually lands in the garages of those who want a large, comfortable luxury sedan, but could care less about a premium badge on the grille. The 2013 Avalon, bowing at the 2012 New York auto show, furthers that mission but with bolder styling and hints of sporty intentions.

At the car’s unveiling, Toyota’s Group Vice President Bob Carter described CEO Akio Toyoda reaction upon seeing the new Avalon for the first time: “Cool! Don’t change a thing.” While the 2013 Avalon’s primary demographic won’t likely call the full-size sedan “cool,” the new sheetmetal is definitely a big departure from the outgoing model.

Up front, the lower air dam dominates with its large gaping, trapezoidal grille and chrome-like trim. In sharp contrast is the more subdued upper grille and headlights, which mimic the Camry’s overall design. The profile reveals a couple character lines, but the kink on the rear quarter window and the wraparound taillight treatment have a greater visual impact. The rear end features horizontal LED taillights connected by a chrome bar, while a contrasting lower bumper helps break up the Avalon’s vertical heft. The wheel wells can be filled with 17- and 18-inch wheels.

Buyers may find the Avalon’s interior to be its strongest asset. The unique dashboard design is highlighted by a floating center stack trimmed in a metallic finish. Capacitive buttons and a standard touch screen add a modern touch, while generous amounts of faux-wood and soft-touch materials cover the dash and door panels. Toyota says the dash panels and contrast stitching are handcrafted on sewing machines. Optional features include navigation, a JBL sound system, ambient lighting, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone climate control, and an adaptive cruise control system.

Toyota says the cabin is quieter thanks to added sound absorbing material, while redesigned side view mirrors, repositioned windshield wipers, and acoustic glass should reduce wind noise. Toyota doesn’t cite any changes in passenger room despite a reduction of overall length from 197.6 to 195.3 inches and a 1.7-inch reduction in the rear overhang. Better yet, trunk capacity has actually increased 1.6 cubic feet to 16 cubic feet.

Powertrain details haven’t been released, but we expect Toyota’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque to carry over, as well as the six-speed automatic. Toyota says the body is stronger, while a new suspension includes stiffer springs and sway bars to reduce body roll. The Avalon even features a Sport mode that Toyota claims will enhance throttle response and will adjust the electric power steering system for a more weighted feel (other modes include Normal and Eco). Additionally, steering wheel mounted shift paddles are now offered.

2013 Toyota Avalon pricing hasn’t been announced, but the 2012 model starts at $33,955 (including $760 destination). Toyota says the new Avalon is the automaker’s first car designed, engineered, built, sold, and serviced in America. Models should reach dealers by the end of this year.

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