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2012 Toyota Avalon: Used Car Review

Editor’s note: You may also want to read Autotrader’s Toyota Avalon review for the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 model years.  


Offering Lexus-like comfort and amenities and more room than the midsize Camry, the 2012 Toyota Avalon is the Japanese automaker’s take on the traditional full-size family sedan. The Avalon is 8 inches longer than the Camry, with plenty of spread-out room for five passengers in the luxuriously appointed cabin. Performance from the 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is more than ample. Meanwhile, the Avalon’s soft suspension soaks up bumps, and its low-effort but precise steering makes for a relaxed ride. Among the 2012 Avalon’s many standard amenities are bright Optitron gauges, rich leather trim, a reclining rear seat, Bluetooth, a backup camera, active head restraints and LED taillights. Standard safety equipment includes dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, overhead airbags, a driver’s-knee airbag, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control and a brake-override system. The 2012 Avalon is unchanged from the 2011 model.

The Avalon is a good choice for families looking for traditional Toyota value and reliability in a larger size, with more interior room and upscale fit and finish. See the 2012 Toyota Avalon models for sale near you

What We Like

Good ride quality; spacious interior; comfortable seats; good fuel economy; powerful V6; upscale interior trim

What We Don’t

Below-average luggage space; uninspired styling; clumsy tilt-telescopic steering-wheel controls; no trunk pass-through

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Avalon is equipped with a 3.5-liter double-overhead-camshaft 24-valve V6 that generates 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and returns 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The Avalon is equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Avalon comes in base Avalon and Limited trims.

The base Avalon features a Lexus-like level of equipment. Standard items include leather seating, power front seats, driver’s-seat adjustable lumbar support, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with an interior air filter, a 9-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with SiriusXM radio, steering-wheel audio controls, iPod/USB jacks, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and streaming, wood-grain interior trim, a digital quartz clock, an overhead console, remote keyless entry, a tilt-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power tilt/slide moonroof with a sliding sunshade, a leather-wrapped shifter, cruise control, automatic headlamps, a backup camera, a garage-door opener, front and rear reading lamps, a trip computer, a compass, an outside-temperature display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trunk cargo net, a full-size spare tire, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, a split folding and reclining rear seat, front and rear center armrests, intermittent wipers, dual exhaust, power windows, power door locks and power heated side mirrors.

The Limited trim adds perforated-leather seat trim, heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s-seat memory, passenger-seat adjustable lumbar, Toyota’s Smart Key system with push-button starting, a leather- and wood-trimmed steering wheel, a JBL 12-speaker premium audio system with a 6-disc CD changer, rain-sensing wipers, high-intensity discharge headlamps, a rear window blind and auto-dimming door mirrors.

Key Avalon options include a touchscreen navigation system with voice control, 18-in alloy wheels and a rear parking-assist system.


A new Avalon offers great value for your dollar, and as with all Toyotas, it has a great reliability reputation from both word of mouth and the various quality-rating organizations. Clean, low-mileage models retain their resale value well and command higher used-car prices. Moderating that somewhat is the fact that the Avalon tends to have older buyers and therefore is a less popular choice with younger drivers looking for the latest styling cues and sporty driving attributes.

For a better idea of the 2012 Avalon’s price range, check out, then search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2012 Toyota Avalon:

A clogged air-conditioner condenser drain hose may cause water to leak into the airbag-control module, leading to a short circuit that may disable or prematurely deploy the airbags, increasing the risk of injury or a crash. The power steering assist may also be disabled, causing high steering effort and an increased crash risk.

The trunk-mounted audio subwoofer speaker may short out and damage the audio amplifier circuit, which in turn may cause the subwoofer to overheat and increase the risk of a fire.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they’ll fix the car at no cost to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The NHTSA did not rate the 2012 Avalon for frontal or side impacts but did give it a 4-star rating for rollover resistance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2012 Avalon a Top Safety Pick. It gave the Avalon Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head-restraint and seat-crash performance.

Toyota covered the 2012 Avalon with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can’t have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer and must be 6 years old or less. Every CPO Avalon undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole car bumper to bumper for 1 year or 12,000 miles, extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles and includes 1 year of roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Buick LaCrosse — About the same size as the Avalon, Buick’s midsize LaCrosse sedan is stylish inside and out, but it doesn’t quite offer the same level of fit and finish or standard amenities as the Toyota. Front-seat area storage is limited, and trunk space is below par, but the LaCrosse is very quiet and smooth-riding. Powertrain choices include a new eAssist 182-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid rated at 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy or a zippier 303-hp 3.6-liter V6, both teamed with a 6-speed automatic and the latter available with front- or all-wheel drive.

2012 Hyundai Azera — All-new for 2012 and built on a stretched Sonata platform, the 2013 Azera remains slightly smaller than the Avalon but offers a considerably larger 16.3 cu ft. of trunk space. Its mission remains to offer Avalon levels of fit and finish at a lower price. The Azera’s powertrain lineup includes a direct-injected 293-hp 3.3-liter V6, a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

Autotrader’s Advice

With a solid reputation for durability and reliability, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with any Avalon, whether it’s the well-equipped base model or the even more luxurious Limited. It’s not the most stylish choice, and it’s definitely not the sport sedan you’d select for a quick blast down a twisty back road, but with minimal service and upkeep, it’s probably going to hold together and cost you very little years down the road.

Do yourself a favor, and check out a CPO Avalon that’s been thoroughly inspected from road to roof. Failing that, look for a lower-mileage example that’s received obvious care. Regardless of your choice, make sure the Avalon you’re looking at has had any applicable safety recalls performed. 

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