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  • 2017 Toyota Avalon Touring

    Posted on September 6th, 2017 ninarussin

    Premium midsize sedan with enhanced active safety features

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    The Avalon is Toyota’s flagship sedan: slightly larger than the midsize Camry, and targeted at customers wanting a premium driving experience. The first Avalon introduced in 1995 as the replacement for the Cressida did in fact share chassis components with the Camry, but since then the two vehicles have taken different paths, the newest Camry being edgier while the Avalon maintains a more conservative approach.

    Buyers can choose between the gasoline model powered by a 268-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission or a gasoline/electric hybrid model. Of the gas-powered versions, the upscale Touring model tested is the sportiest, with standard 20-inch alloy rims. Drivers can choose between Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes, adjusting the car’s throttle mapping to suit their particular-needs.

    This year, all Avalon models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection, adding pre-collision, autonomous braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and assist and automatic high beams to the sedan’s roster of standard safety features.

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    Base price for the Touring grade is $37,650 excluding the $865 destination charge. Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, Entune premium audio with app suite, Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory, four-way power front passenger seat and Qi compatible wireless smartphone charging.

    Options on the test car include special metallic pearl exterior coat and carpeted trunk mats, bringing the final MSRP to $39,134.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    Over the past week I drove the Avalon through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler Arizona as well as sections of the Gila River Indian Community south of town. Throughout the test, the Avalon lived up to its promise of appealing performance with premium amenities rivaling more expensive luxury cars.

    The V-6 engine delivers abundant power. With 248 pounds of peak torque, acceleration off the line is robust. A throttle blipping feature on the six-speed automatic transmission makes it easier for drivers to keep the revs up in the corners.

    Engineers made extensive use of sound-deadening materials throughout the cabin for a quiet interior. Although sound insulation adds mass to the vehicle, the test car’s 3,505-pound curb weight is quite reasonable for a car with a 11-inch wheelbase. Since many buyers purchase the Avalon for its additional rear passenger space, the insulation makes sense, since it makes it easier for all occupants to converse on the highway or listen to the audio system.

    The Avalon is a well-balanced car, despite its front-wheel drive orientation, and quite nimble on its feet. The MacPherson strut front and dual-link independent rear suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps in the road without feeling mushy, while a torsion bar up front and stabilizer bar in the rear keep the chassis flat in the corners. Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.

    The electric power assist steering system is nicely tuned to the car, with plenty of assist at lower speeds and a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway.

    The new active safety features take stress out of the daily commute. Standard blind spot monitoring makes it easier to weave through dense rush-hour traffic. I find the audible alerts on lane departure warning systems to be more annoying than they are helpful since I tend to go over the line when I apex in a cloverleaf turn. However, the system does keep distracted drivers from drifting out of their lanes.

    Automatic high beams automatically shut off when cars approach from the other direction so those drivers won’t lose visibility. Pre-collision with autonomous braking can stop the vehicle completely at speeds up to about 20 miles-per-hour, and significantly decrease the severity of the impact at higher speeds.

    Visibility around the car’s perimeter is good. The standard rearview camera eliminates blind spots in the back corners and beneath the rear glass when the driver shifts into reverse. I had no problems monitoring vehicles when merging onto the highway. Standard blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when cars in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.

    Upscale interior

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    2017 Toyota Avalon

    The Avalon’s spacious interior comfortably seats up to five adult passengers. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob. I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust with ample lower lumbar support. Climate and infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Qi wireless charging enables owners of compatible phones to recharge their devices using a charging mat at the base of the center console.

    While the gauge cluster is easy to read in all lighting conditions, the center stack screen tends to wash out in bright sunlight. Re-angling the screen or adding a hood up top would solve the problem.

    Because the Avalon’s wheelbase is about 1-3/4 inches longer than the 2017 Camry, rear occupants get significantly more legroom. A spacious trunk easily accommodates multiple pieces of luggage, the weekly groceries, golf bags and smaller camping equipment.

    Standard safety

    The Toyota Avalon comes with ten airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, Safety Connect with emergency assistance, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle locator and tire pressure monitoring.

    The Toyota Avalon received a five star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Toyota builds the Avalon at its Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant.

    Like: A solid, stylish midsize sedan with spacious interior and premium amenities rivaling more expensive luxury cars.

    Dislike: Center stack screen tends to wash out in bright sunlight.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: Avalon Touring
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $37,650
    As tested: $39,134
    Horsepower: 268 HP @ 6200 rpm
    Torque: 248 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg city/highway

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