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2016 Toyota Camry vs. 2016 Toyota Avalon: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

If you're interested in a reliable family sedan, you probably have the 2016 Toyota Camry on your shopping list. But you may have noticed that Toyota also offers another popular sedan: the 2016 Toyota Avalon. So what's the difference between these two models? And which one should you get? In order to find out, we've created a close comparison between both the Camry and the Avalon that examines the two sedans in a variety of key areas.

Exterior

On the outside, the Camry and the Avalon offer several major similarities -- most notably the unusual front ends, which feature large grille openings and vertical lights at the corners of the bumper. The two models also tout a similar overall profile and even a similar rear end with shared taillight designs. But anyone familiar with the Camry and the Avalon can easily tell the two sedans apart when they're parked next to one another, as the Avalon's side profile makes it look longer than the Camry. In reality, the two sedans are surprisingly close in length, with the Avalon measuring in at just over 195 inches to the Camry's 191 inches.

Interior

The Camry and Avalon offer more interior differences than exterior changes. Specifically, the two cars offer wildly different dashboard designs -- the Avalon's is sleeker and more futuristic -- along with different center-console styling, different air-vent designs and more. Interestingly, interior materials aren't dramatically better in the Avalon than in the Camry, as the two cars share most switches, buttons and knobs. Interior space, however, is noticeably different, as the Avalon offers more room than the Camry -- especially in back.

Mechanicals

The Camry offers three engine options. The most popular is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that touts 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque; it returns up to 25 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Also available is a muscular 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 (with 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy) and a 200-hp hybrid 4-cylinder in the Camry Hybrid. That model is especially tailored to drivers interested in fuel economy, as it boasts up to 43 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the Avalon only offers two engine options. As a function of its larger size, it eschews the Camry's base-level 4-cylinder and comes standard with the 270-hp 3.5-liter V6, which boasts up to 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy in the Avalon -- the same figures offered by the Camry V6. Meanwhile, the Avalon Hybrid shares the Camry Hybrid's 4-cylinder engine, offering up to 40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

Features & Technology

When it comes to equipment, the Camry and the Avalon share just about every available feature. In fact, after perusing the two models' options lists, we have a hard time finding any major feature offered by one model that isn't available on the other.

With that said, the Avalon has many more standard features -- a function of its higher price, which starts around $33,500 compared to the Camry's base MSRP of $24,000 with shipping. But the Camry quickly catches up, boasting wireless smartphone charging, Toyota's excellent Entune infotainment system with app integration and high-tech goodies such as lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic braking and more -- all of which are also available in the Avalon.

Driving Experience

Although the Camry and Avalon have a lot of similarities, there are a few major differences behind the wheel. Most notably, the Avalon feels larger than the Camry -- which it is -- offering more body roll around corners and a slower, lighter steering feel. This is partially because of a recent update to the Camry that's designed to improve its suspension and enhance its handling capabilities to take on sportier rivals such as the Mazda6 and Ford Fusion.

With that said, the Avalon shines exactly where you'd expect: ride comfort. Not only does it offer a softer, more comfortable ride than the Camry, but it boasts less wind noise, cabin noise and tire noise, too. In other words, drivers who want a more traditional midsize sedan, albeit with a sporty flair, should consider the Camry, while shoppers interested in a larger, more luxurious model will likely find themselves lusting after the Avalon.

Safety

In government crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Camry and the Avalon earned a perfect 5-star overall score. It's the same story in crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as both models earned that firm's coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation.

As for safety features, both the Camry and the Avalon are loaded with them. While both models come standard with all the necessities -- side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and a backup camera -- options range from automatic forward-collision braking to adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and automatic high beams. That includes basically every modern option you'd expect to see on these two cars.

Conclusions

Both the 2016 Toyota Camry and the 2016 Toyota Avalon are excellent sedans -- and the two models offer few major differences in terms of quality, equipment, powertrains and design. As a result, we strongly suggest that most shoppers buy the Camry over the Avalon, as it offers basically everything the majority of drivers need or want.

With that said, there are a few good reasons why you might prefer the Avalon. Most notably, we suggest it for shoppers who especially prioritize comfort, as it offers lighter steering and a softer ride than its Camry sibling. The Avalon also has a bigger back seat, a bigger trunk and improved sound deadening to drown out road noise. Is it worth the premium? Only for drivers who really want that extra comfort. For everyone else, the Camry is the right pick.

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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.
2016 Toyota Camry vs. 2016 Toyota Avalon: What's the Difference? - Autotrader