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Car Review: 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring

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A moulin rouge mica 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring is a great sight on a cool spring day in the Midwest. Toyota has dramatically altered the chemistry of Avalon’s DNA creating, a new potent and persuasive sedan that helps shift the product’s generational appeal while symbolizing Toyota’s exciting new design and product direction for future sedans. Our test model verified this just from first impressions.

EXTERIOR

As good as the previous Avalon was, the new 2013 model is a much more refined and expressive car, starting with the exterior. For the mission of re-positioning the Avalon brand and shifting consumer perception of the sedan, Toyota fashioned an exterior that offers a much more athletic expression in sheet metal. The new Avalon sedan clearly represents a dramatic styling departure from previous Avalon models. The 2013 Avalon’s elegant and athletic design offers a longer flowing roofline, creating a more appealing side silhouette with a lower vehicle beltline that suggests a sense of motion with a road holding stance. Its chiseled shoulder line sculpted into side sheet metal starts over the front wheels and creates a strong, fluid body side design cue, adding to its athletic stance. The new Avalon exterior is designed to communicate a greater sense of performance and agility to better match the car’s vastly enhanced dynamic capability.

Compared to the 2012 model, the new Avalon offers more compact and athletic exterior dimensions, and with a greater styling sophistication that does not sacrifice interior comfort. The vehicle’s stance has also been improved with more taut and compact exterior dimensions. Overall height has been reduced by 0.98 inch (25 mm), while the overhangs have been reduced by 0.59 inch (15 mm) at the front and 1.77 inches (45 mm) at the rear. Filling the wheel well, the gap between the body and the tires has been reduced by 0.27 inch (7 mm) compared to the previous Avalon model. The new Avalon’s visual stance has been further enhanced by 1.29-inch (33 mm) reduction in width of the rear side rails surrounding the rear glass to tighten the proportions of the greenhouse. Vehicle tread has been increased by 0.39 inch (10 mm) at the front and 0.59 inch (15 mm) at the rear, widening the wheel placement underneath the more athletic Avalon body. Our test model sported heated outside mirrors with turn signals, power tilt and slide moon roof, dual chrome tipped exhaust and quadrabeam headlights with auto on/off.

A stronger, more expressive front-fascia design with larger grille opening creates an aggressive appearance while enhancing cooling air flow and pedestrian impact protection. The new Avalon’s exterior turn signal indicators have been located at the lower section of the front bumper to contribute to the slim and sleek appearance. The 2013 Avalon’s sleek and sculpted rear tail lights utilize LED lamps to help ensure visibility and reduce the gap of unlit dark area between the trunk and rear quarter panel.

The more sculpted, athletic exterior design also helps the new Avalon cut through the wind with a low 0.28 coefficient of drag that helps fuel efficiency and on-road stability. The rear tapering design of the new Avalon body and the floor under covers help enhance vehicle stability at speed while improving airflow. The Avalon side mirrors offer improved aerodynamics to help reduce wind noise while also offering a weight reduction of 14.6 ounces (415 grams) compared to the outgoing model. The side mirrors alone help reduce the co-efficient of drag by 0.001 compared to the previous model. These new aerodynamic side mirrors offer features such as a turn signal lamp, electrical adjustment, a mirror heater, memory positioning, a puddle lamp, available Blind Spot Monitor indicator, and electro-chromatic glass. Also, the new Avalon is equipped with a new, lighter weight and more aerodynamic wiper design that stays in contact with the window longer. The new Avalon’s rear valance houses stainless steel dual exhaust outlets integrated into the body.

INTERIOR

The upscale feel of the 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring is undeniable in just about every aspect. The Calty-designed interior elaborates on the exterior’s elegant athletic theme to create a premium interior experience that combines high technology and craftsmanship with an artistic level of sculpted surfaces. Looking outside the cabin, the sculpted dash panel and its concave surfaces in front of the passenger help add to the sense of the cabin spaciousness. This panel is covered in supple, hand-stitched premium soft-touch material, with the seam adding some creative flair as it goes across the dash panel. The broad, low and layered dashboard design helps divide the panel area into a balance between an intimate driver space, with focused angles on the meter and a wide open passenger space. That space is much appreciated and rivals could learn a lesson or two on desired space for the driver and passenger.

The instrument panel has been widened by 1.18 inches (30 mm) in the upper region and 2.56 inches (65 mm) in the lower region compared to the outgoing model, helping enhance the interior’s spaciousness. The driver is engaged by an Optitron type combination meter, which produces a sharp, high quality display and 3.5-inch Thin-film Transistor (TFT) color multi-information display. An Eco area on the dial display helps show when the vehicle is being driven in an Eco-sensitive manner, and it can help guide a driver’s throttle input to develop economical driving habits.

The new Avalon’s interior surfaces are finished in premium materials such as hand-sewn soft-touch material for the dash panel, unique smoke chrome trim surrounding the center panel, and high-quality glossy panel trim around the shifter. All of this attention to detail to touch surfaces and subtle enhancements to texture and visual appeal is aimed at elevating the overall interior experience for driver and passengers. Extensive use of soft-touch materials helps enhance the interior’s feeling of quality and comfort. A generous, dense-foam support is used beneath the supple soft-touch material covering many of the interior’s touch surfaces, while a soft-skin surface with a deep foam construction is used for many of the dash surfaces to create a greater sense of tactile quality.

Beyond styling, the Avalon interior remains highly functional with abundant and improved storage space. Located beneath the HVAC controls in the center console is the eBin electronics storage tray. This new tray design allows storage for two devices (cellphones or iPods, for instance) side-by-side on a premium, higher friction surface. Charging jacks are located below the tray that can be opened and closed with cables passing neatly through the cable slot cut into the bottom of the tray. The tray is also illuminated by LED light for improved night visibility managing cables. Beneath this tray is an electronics storage box where devices can also be stored completely out of sight while charging. Two DC 12V power outlets, an AUX and a USB jack are accessible in the storage box.

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PERFORMANCE

The Avalon utilizes a 3.5-liter, 90-degree, DOHC, six-cylinder engine that features Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) to help offer superior power and efficiency by optimizing the intake and exhaust valve events to increase engine performance across the entire rev range. This robust V6 produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm and provides the new Avalon with competitive acceleration and a 0-to-60 mph time estimated at less than seven seconds. The fact that this brisk acceleration occurs with a more fuel-economy friendly 3.23-to-1 final drive ratio as compared to a 3.54 final drive ratio on the outgoing model is testament to the Avalon’s weight reduction and improved drivetrain tuning.

The V6-powered Avalon features a hydraulic automatic transmission that has been optimized for improved fuel economy and performance from a lightweight front-wheel drive transaxle. The transmission can be shifted from D mode into S mode on the shift gate, where shifts can be actuated with “+” “or” –shifts of the lever. The Sport mode adopts highly responsive upshift control and throttle blipping downshift control, which are adopted for quicker shifting performance. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters help actuate fast, responsive shifts while keeping both hands on the wheel. The transmission response is further enhanced by utilization of a faster-locking torque converter that locks up early even in second gear. The transmission is also kept at an optimal temperature for consistent performance with an automatic transmission fluid warmer. The shift gate is actuated by a lever and shift knob that is covered by either standard leather or premium leather.

The V6-powered gasoline Avalon offers three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. The Eco Mode prioritizes fuel efficiency by balancing driving performance, air conditioning function and fuel efficiency. It reduces driving force when accelerating at low speeds to enhance fuel efficiency. Sport mode helps create a more engaging driving experience by enhancing the Electric Power Steering effort and a more direct, responsive steering feel. It also adjusts throttle response to help increase the sensation of the engine’s torque response during acceleration.

The gasoline drivetrain offers superior efficiency and performance for a premium midsize sedan, with an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 hwy). When equipped with the 18-inch wheel combination, the 2013 Avalon is EPA-rated at 24 mpg combined. Our Touring model was equipped with the 18-inch alloys, and for a loss of 1mpg, your Avalon looks complete and luxurious.

The overall performance was impressive and smooth compared to other sedans in this segment. Handling was top notch for a car the size of the 2103 Avalon, especially when taking sharp turns. Why? The Avalon’s electric power steering system (EPS) has incorporated tuning to improve feel while reducing engine driven accessories to help improve fuel economy. This electric rack and pinion system’s power assist has been optimized in response to vehicle speed to create a lighter effort sensation at lower speeds and increased effort and on-center feel at higher speeds. The system without speed variable influence requires 2.85 turns from lock to lock. The Avalon steering column offers both tilt and telescopic features, and it can be adjusted plus or minus (+ /–) 0.78 inch (20 mm) from its neutral position for tilt and telescopic directions.

The Avalon’s steering wheel has been designed to help improve the driver’s tactile feel and control, enhancing driver confidence behind the wheel. The steering wheel’s shape, grip and tactile feel helps create enhanced grip to improve the driving sensation. Available smooth, premium leather and padded foam help finish the steering wheel. It also includes a four-direction audio switch to enhance operability, in addition to a cruise control switch, DISP (Display) and TEL (Telephone switch). The steering wheel offers buttons for available voice recognition and a vehicle-to-vehicle distance switch for Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Large paddle-shift toggles attached to the steering wheel on the V6-powered XLE Touring and Limited Avalon models help enhance driver control during spirited driving.

OVERVIEW

Just as in the past, Avalon has stepped into a leadership position with styling, luxury and value while keeping prices reasonable. Our 2013 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring as tested stickered out at $36,549, and that is much, much lower than some brands that don’t really compare to the Avalon. The all-new 2013 Avalon combines passionate styling, innovation, and an elevated level of craftsmanship to help reposition Toyota’s flagship sedan within the highly competitive premium midsize segment.

  

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