2009 Avalon New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Avalon does lots of things well, but its strength is the solace it offers those riding inside. It's harder to be aggravated by the news, the traffic or other drivers when you're cruising Zen-like in this big, comfortable sedan.
For 2009, Toyota has closed the last link in Avalon's comprehensive safety package by making skid-mitigating Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) standard on all models. Active front headrests, designed to limit whiplash injuries by cradling the head more effectively in a rear impact, are also added as standard equipment in 2009. The Avalon Touring, originally created for those who wanted a slightly sportier driving experience, has been canceled due to lack of interest.
Toyota's largest sedan stands out most for smoothness and quiet operation. The serenity is a function of many things, including Avalon's underlying design, vibration mitigating features and good build quality. Whatever the reasons, the Avalon is more tranquil than many sedans that cost a lot more.
The Avaolon rides like a magic carpet, almost impervious to the worst roads you'll travel. But it also 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.
Avalon also has the latest safety technology, starting with a full complement of front, side and head-protection airbags. It scores well in government and insurance-industry crash tests. And in addition to the now-standard VSC skid-management electronics, it comes with traction control and an ant-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. These features make sure that stopping power is distributed evenly, regardless of road surface, and that the brakes apply with full force in a panic stop.
It all makes Avalon easy to like and even easier to enjoy. Think of it as refuge from a hectic world.
The 2009 Toyota Avalon is available in three trim levels distinguished by the level of standard equipment. All come with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. The familiar Avalon Touring model is no longer available.
The Avalon XL ($27,845) is 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 includes a six-CD changer. Cloth upholstery and 16-inch alloy wheels are standard.
The Avalon XLS ($32,145) adds fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and leather seating. The XLS also comes standard with 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 ($35,185) 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, 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. The XLS offers heated seats ($440), an eight-way power front passenger seat with heating ($740) and the JBL Synthesis sound system ($840). A navigation system is also available. Dynamic laser-guided cruise control ($600) is optional only on the Limited.
Safety features on all Avalons include active front seat headrests, which are intended to cradle the head more effectively in a rear impact and limit whiplash injuries. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is standard. All models also have anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Occupant protecting features include 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.