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With guest host Damon Lavrinc, Tesla battery swaps, tech in cars, Rob Siegel interview


Who knew the Toyota Avalon could be so... sporty? SEMA isn't just about tuning no-brainers like the Ford Mustang and Scion FR-S, it's about showing what's possible for a wide variety of cars, even seemingly geriatric machines like the big Avalon.


Now that we've waved goodbye to the Lincoln Town Car, there's a big ol' hole in the automotive market for new livery vehicles – you know, the blacked-out hire cars frequently seen idling outside of airport terminals and hotels. Cadillac has announced that its XTS flagship will be offered with a factory livery package, and other American automakers like Chrysler and Lincoln have entered this luxury fleet segment as well. But it won't stop there.


While most of its competitors have already showed off scores of concept cars headed to the 2012 SEMA Show, all we've seen from Toyota so far is the Sequoia Family Dragster. With less than a week to go until the show, Toyota has let its floodgates open showing off three concepts using the redesigned Avalon, a TRD version of the FJ Cruiser and a mean-looking, off-road Tundra.


Like its Cressida ancestor, Toyota's Avalon has long focused on easy living comfort and value over sex appeal. Conservative sheetmetal, a cushy ride, space to spread out and general ease-of-use have historically made the brand's largest sedan popular among the elderly. But the new 2013 Avalon brings with it markedly more expressive styling that suggests Toyota is no longer content to cater to the end-of-life demographic. This shift away from a more traditional value set to edgier design and cont


When we read through the press materials for the new 2013 Toyota Avalon, we had to double-check... had we downloaded the release for the wrong car? Because right here it says, "In Sport mode, throttle response is enhanced and steering effort is weighted... to offer a sportier character." And what's this about paddle shifters? This is the Avalon, the car that replaced the Mercury Grand Marquis in the hearts, minds and garages of Florida retirees.


Toyota has just released a teaser image of what it says is an all-new, designed-in-America sedan that will debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show next week. It isn't immediately clear if the vehicle will be a concept or production car, but Toyota has issued no showcar qualifiers, suggesting it's something that will be in dealers soon. Described as having "an elegant yet athletic look," the teased rear end most likely belongs to the next-generation Avalon full-size sedan.

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