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2015 Toyota Avalon: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

January 2015 author photo

Autotrader


The full-size 2015 Toyota Avalon is a practical sedan that seems to offer just about everything a luxury car shopper might want. There's a smooth, comfortable ride. There are high-end appointments and a long list of standard and optional amenities. There's even a fuel-efficient hybrid model, which boasts excellent fuel economy.

The Avalon comes up short in one key area: status. It doesn't boast the luxury badge that Toyota's Lexus division offers, and for many buyers, that alone is the difference between choosing the full-size Toyota and the luxurious Lexus ES, which is largely similar to the Avalon underneath.

Still, for drivers who don't mind the Avalon's mainstream branding, it seems to offer Lexus luxury for Toyota prices. This unique selling point has kept the car popular with a devoted segment of buyers for more than 20 years.

What's New for 2015?

After a full redesign for 2013 and no changes in 2014, updates to the 2015 Avalon are minimal. They're limited to newly standard paddle shifters on all models, an upgraded Entune infotainment system, and a new XLE Touring Sport trim level.

What We Like

Excellent standard V6; hyper-efficient hybrid model; adept handling; smooth styling; big back seat; plenty of technology

What We Don't

Ride is firmer than it used to be; fancier models get luxury-grade pricing

How Much?

$33,100-$42,500

Fuel Economy

The Avalon offers two engines: gas-powered and hybrid. Gas-powered models have a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that's been a mainstay in the Toyota lineup for years. The vehicle uses a 6-speed automatic and returns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Opt for the Avalon Hybrid, and you get a 156-hp hybrid 4-cylinder mated to an automatic with continuously variable transmission. That model returns 40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Avalon is offered in four trim levels: XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring, XLE Touring Sport and Limited. Both gasoline and hybrid models come in Premium, Touring and Limited trims, while the base-level Avalon XLE is solely restricted to the gasoline-powered model.

Things start off with the base-level Avalon XLE ($33,100), which is offered only with the sedan's V6 engine. Standard features include automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an iPod hookup and a 6.1-in, center-mounted touchscreen.

Next up is the XLE Premium ($34,800 for the V6; $37,200 for the hybrid). It adds improved keyless entry functionality (bringing the feature to the rear doors), a power sunroof, a built-in garage door opener and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

After that comes the XLE Touring ($36,900 for the V6; $38,400 for the hybrid). It adds larger wheels, fog lights, an improved sound system and, most importantly, a navigation system that includes satellite radio and Toyota's Entune app-integration system.

New for 2015 is the XLE Touring Sport ($38,000), which is offered with only the V6. Limited to just 2,500 units, the XLE Touring Sport adds such sporty options as 18-in black-painted alloy wheels, aluminum door sills and a unique exterior color.

Topping the sedan's range is the Limited ($41,000 for the V6; $42,500 for the hybrid). It boasts a long list of upscale features such as rain-sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a power rear sunshade, a larger touchscreen, rear cross-traffic alert and trizone automatic climate controls.

Options are primarily limited to features found on higher trim levels. In the case of the Avalon Limited, options include automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control and a pre-collision system that tightens the seat belts and primes the brakes.

Safety

The 2015 Toyota Avalon has 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and 10 standard airbags. Available features include rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, a pre-collision system, automatic high beam control and adaptive cruise control. In government crash tests, the Avalon earned a 5-star overall rating. That score consisted of a 5-star side-impact rating and 4-star ratings in frontal and rollover assessments.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the 2015 Avalon is much tighter and more responsive than its predecessor was. Whereas the old car pitched and rolled in corners, the new one stays respectably flat. The ride is still quite refined, but its character has changed for the sportier. In keeping with past Avalons, road and wind noise are suppressed at all speeds.

In our interior evaluation, we immediately noticed that the Avalon's front seats are no longer flat and soft like your favorite easy chair. Toyota has added real contours this time, and there are even modest side bolsters to keep you planted in corners. The sloping roofline still leaves enough headroom for 6-footers in the back, and the copious legroom might satisfy even the 7-ft segment.

Most controls are straightforward, although the high-tech IntelliTouch buttons on the center stack may require an adjustment period. Toyota says they're responsive to gloved fingers and long fingernails, but the jury's out on their small size and similar appearance at a glance. On the bright side, the gauges are Lexus-like in their crispness and clarity. The quality of the materials also satisfies.

Trunk space in the regular Avalon has improved significantly, measuring a competitive 16 cu ft. versus the outgoing trunk's subpar 14.4 cu ft. Laudably, the Avalon Hybrid's trunk can still hold 14 cu ft. despite sharing that region with the hybrid system's concealed battery pack.

Other Cars to Consider

Chrysler 300 -- Offering rear- or all-wheel drive, the newly updated 300 is a champ on the highway. It also offers the excellent uConnect 8.4 interface, along with optional HEMI V8 power.

Lincoln MKZ -- Lincoln's midsize luxury sedan is a new shining star in this segment, offering bold styling and several available powertrains, including a hybrid 4-cylinder that's more efficient than the Avalon's available hybrid engine.

Used Acura RLX -- Like the Avalon, the upscale RLX boasts a smooth powertrain and a luxurious driving experience. It also offers all-wheel drive and additional technology. RLX pricing is steep, though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Used Lexus ES -- If you're looking for a more premium experience than the Avalon offers, consider a used ES. Mechanically identical to the Avalon, the ES boasts the upscale Lexus badge, which is a big deal for many shoppers.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best Avalon is an XLE Premium, which offers all the features you'd want without breaking the bank. Such features include an available hybrid 4-cylinder, which may be a little down on power for some drivers. If that's the case, the sedan also offers a muscular V6 for shoppers interested in extra oomph.

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RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Touring
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Used 2015 Toyota Avalon
Used 2015 Toyota Avalon
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Certified 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium
Certified 2015 Toyota Avalon
$20,704
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Used 2015 Toyota Avalon XLE Premium
Used 2015 Toyota Avalon
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Avalon: New Car Review - Autotrader