2008 Avalon New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Avalon is a large sedan that's easy to like and even easier to enjoy. Think of it as refuge from a hectic world.
For 2008, the Toyota Avalon gets some styling updates, interior upgrades and, perhaps most significantly, a new six-speed automatic transmission. Yet its calling card hasn't changed significantly. The Avalon remains a very quiet, comfortable, five-seat sedan that's easy to drive and great to travel in.
The Avalon rides like a magic carpet, almost impervious to the worst roads you'll travel. Its delivers good acceleration and good mileage for such a roomy car. Its automatic transmission is quick shifting and decisive. It's pleasant to drive for just about any purpose, and it won't fail you if you happen to be in a hurry.
The interior is finished with quality materials and equipped with ergonomically functional controls. The front seats are roomy and comfortable, the back seat downright spacious. Empty-nesters will appreciate Avalon for its flexibility, and families for its manageable base price, which includes a good stereo with CD changer and most of the features anyone really needs.
Still, the Avalon stands out most for smoothness and quiet operation. The tranquility is a function of many things, including its underlying design, vibration mitigating features and good build quality. Whatever the reasons, the Avalon is smoother and quieter than many sedans that cost a lot more. It offers solace in a busy world, and it helps minimize the stress and aggravation that are increasingly by-products of commuting and running errands on our crowded streets and highways.
Avalon is equipped with the latest safety technology, including a full complement of front, side and head-protection airbags. It scores well in government and insurance-industry crash tests. It also offers important active safety features that help drivers avoid accidents in the first place. However, its Vehicle Stability Control skid-management system is an option rather than standard equipment, and we recommend adding it to the bottom line.
The 2008 Toyota Avalon comes in four trim levels, distinguished primarily by their level of standard equipment. All are powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that's new for 2008.
The Avalon XL ($27,325) comes well equipped, with a full complement of power accessories and features such as an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control with cabin air filter and audio and climate controls on the steering wheel. The nine-speaker audio system adds a six-CD changer for 2008. Cloth upholstery and 16-inch alloy wheels are standard.
The Avalon Touring model ($29,325) features a firmer suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, high-intensity-discharge (HID) head lamps, fog lamps, and a rear deck spoiler. Touring also adds leather-trimmed seats with four-way power for the front passenger, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and aluminum scuff plates on the door sills.
The Avalon XLS ($31,375) reverts to standard headlights and suspension, but it keeps the fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and leather trim. The XLS also adds a power moonroof, heated outside mirrors with electrochromic auto-dimming on the driver's side, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink universal transceiver, and an anti-theft system.
The Avalon Limited ($34,065) upgrades with a 360-watt JBL Synthesis audio system with 12 speakers and Blue Tooth connectivity, a power rear sunshade, Toyota's Smart Key proximity key system, the HID headlamps, a wood-and-leather-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and driver and passenger seat heaters and cooling fans.
Options include the power moonroof ($860) and anti-theft system ($220) for the base XL model. Touring models and above offer heated seats ($440), an eight-way power front passenger seat with heating ($740), the JBL Synthesis sound system ($840) and a navigation system ($2,000-$4,155, depending on the model). Dynamic laser-guided cruise control ($600) is optional only on the Limited.
Safety features: All Avalons get larger brakes for 2008, and all come with a full array of airbags, including front-impact airbags, a driver's knee airbag, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front passengers, and curtain-style, head-protection airbags for outboard passengers front and rear. Other standard safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Optional is Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system ($650); we recommend getting it because it can help the driver avoid an accident.
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