In truth, there's a lot of old Avalon here; the sheetmetal and interior are new, but the running gear and platform are the same. The new car features the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 268 hp, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota says that the car hits 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway on the EPA cycle.
As expected, the exterior design�the work of Toyota�s CALTY studio in California�was torpor-inducing, but the new interior is very clean and neat, featuring a simplified center stack and the segment's only reclining rear seat. Myriad driver distractions are available, including Bluetooth music streaming.
The Avalon comes in two levels: standard and upscale Limited. Even the base car gets standard leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. All Avalons get a full array of airbags and electronic safety aids, including an override for the gas pedal when the brakes are pressed. The latter, of course, is a feature that would have saved Toyota's bacon if they had thought of installing it a model before 2011.
As yet, there's no word on Avalon pricing, but don't expect it to stray far from the current model's when it hits the showroom floors.
(BY MARK GILLIES, PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEVIN HILLGER AND THE MANUFACTURER )