It's fair to say that Toyota's reputation for bulletproof quality has been enduring a few hits lately, and the 2006 Avalon looks like it will add to the discussion. With service bulletin issued for everything from bad catalytic converters to oil-supply line leaks and bad U-joint welds, the nameplate's largest and most expensive offering is leaving many owners frustrated.
While the automaker has declined to get specific about the Avalon's problems, adjustments are being made to the car's assembly lines. But even though the model is early in its production cycle, the automaker isn't getting a free pass from the media - Consumer Reports' quality metric has dipped to 'average' - below major competitors like the Ford Five Hundred, Buick LaCrosse and Kia Amanti. The magazine's survey has turned up issues in steering, body integrity and suspension.
(Click through to the jump for more details and the link!)
According to AutoWeek, many company loyalists are upset with the perceived quality lapses - and given that Toyota customers have been accustomed to vehicles that have consistently scored well on the reliability charts, it may unwittingly have created a public-relations problem of its own design. Company loyalists that have come to expect consistency in quality are arguably pre-conditioned to excellence, and are audibly more frustrated when their expectations are not met.
Analysts, critics, and marque devotees alike fear Toyota's rapid expansion has taken the automaker's eye off the quality ball. What do you think? Check out the AutoWeek article here, then sound off in 'Comments.'
(Thanks for the tip-off, Zeke!)