2006 Avalon New Car Test Drive
Though front-wheel drive, the Toyota Avalon is arguably the best rendition of a traditional big American car sold today. American cars should be this good. And it could even be argued that Toyota's flagship family sedan is in fact an American car. The Avalon was designed in Newport Beach, California, engineered by the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is built in Georgetown, Kentucky.
This third-generation Avalon was completely redesigned late in the 2005 model year and comes with the latest in safety features (though electronic stability control is optional, not standard). Its styling is understated. It's more distinctive than the previous-generation Avalon, but it doesn't stand out, instead presenting a quiet look of grace and agility. Not everyone wants to pull up in a red Viper.
Inside is a comfortable cabin lavished with tasteful materials and ergonomically designed controls that make this car easy to operate and pleasant to drive. This newest Avalon is significantly larger than previous models. The front seats are roomy and comfortable and special attention was paid to back-seat comfort. This is a car that will never annoy you.
The Avalon is smooth and comfortable underway, quiet and serene. The suspension was tuned for ride comfort and it largely excels in this area. The newly designed double-overhead-cam V6 engine is smooth, quiet and powerful, while the electronically controlled five-speed automatic ensures smoothness and economy.
Four trim variations are available, each representing slightly different priorities to broaden the Avalon's appeal. There are no significant changes for 2006. Avalon benefits from Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
The 2006 Toyota Avalon is available in four trim levels: XL, Touring, XLS, and Limited. All come with a 3.5-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission with a sequential-shift feature.
The Avalon XL ($26,625) comes with cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control with air filtration; a premium-level AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with nine speakers; remote keyless entry; power door locks with anti-lockout feature; power windows with driver and passenger auto up/down, pinch protection and retained power; Optitron instruments with chrome accents; maintenance indicator light; steering-wheel-mounted audio and climate controls; multi-function information display for audio, climate control, temperature and trip computer. The XL also has cruise control, an engine immobilizer and a tilt and telescoping steering column. Tires are 215/60R16 on aluminum wheels; the spare tire is full-sized, with a matching aluminum wheel.
The Touring model ($28,875) features more aggressive suspension tuning and 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/55R17 Michelin MXV4 tires and high-intensity-discharge head lamps. Touring also upgrades to leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and aluminum scuff plates.
The XLS ($31,075) reverts to the standard suspension, keeps the 17-inch tire size, and adds a power moonroof, four-way adjustable power passenger seat, in-dash six-disc CD changer, dual heated outside mirrors (with electrochromic auto-dimming on the driver's side), and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink universal transceiver.
The Limited ($33,815) adds a 360-watt JBL Synthesis audio system with six-disc CD changer and 12 speakers, a one-touch auto-reverse power rear sunshade, power driver's seat cushion length adjuster, the Smart Key system, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, a wood-and-leather-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a driver and passenger seat heater and cooling fan.
Options include a power moonroof ($910), heated seats, and the JBL Synthesis sound system. A navigation system ($1,900) and dynamic laser cruise control ($600) are optional on XLS and Limited.
Safety features that come standard on all models include driver and front-passenger airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection, side curtain airbags for head protection, and a driver's knee airbag. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist. Optional on all Avalons this year are Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control.