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2017 Toyota Avalon: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2017

The 2017 Toyota Avalon is very much the benchmark for the full-size sedan segment -- or at the very least, the one that should satisfy the most buyers. As expected, it provides a more spacious rear seat than a midsize family sedan, along with a higher-quality cabin that dips its toe well into the luxury pool regardless of trim level. It also comes with an abundance of features, including a suite of accident-avoidance tech now standard for 2017, and it's available with a class-unique hybrid powertrain. And of course, there's Toyota's well-earned reputation for reliability.

So, the Avalon should make a lot of sense for anyone seeking a full-size sedan. It's also aging quite gracefully despite entering its fourth year since a complete redesign. That last overhaul did a great job of making the Avalon a more appealing choice, enhancing the previous generation's sensible attributes with better styling and sharper driving dynamics. Of course, the Avalon still isn't the most characterful choice, and you may find one of its rivals strikes more of an emotional chord. However, we doubt anything will be as well-rounded as this big Toyota sedan.

What's New for 2017?

Every Avalon now comes standard with the Safety Sense package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention and automatic high beams.

What We Like

Excellent standard V6; hyper-efficient hybrid model; luxurious cabin; standard safety tech; abundant passenger room

What We Don't

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

How Much?

$33,300-$42,600

Fuel Economy

The Avalon offers two engines: a gas-powered V6 and a hybrid 4-cylinder.

Standard models get a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that's been a mainstay in the Toyota lineup for years. Mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission and mandatory front-wheel drive, it returns 21 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Drivers looking for better fuel efficiency can upgrade to the Avalon Hybrid, which returns 40 mpg city/39 mpg hwy. On average, opting for this model will save you $600 on fuel per year compared to the regular Avalon. Its combined power output is 200 hp, which isn't a lot -- and as such, the Avalon Hybrid is one of the slowest full-size sedans.

Standard Features & Options

The Avalon is offered in five trim levels: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring and Limited. The Avalon Hybrid is only available in XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited guise.

Things start off with the base-level Avalon XLE ($33,300), 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 access for the front doors and trunk, a push-button starter, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a USB port and a 7-in touchscreen with Toyota's Entune infotainment interface. Also standard is Toyota's Safety Sense package that includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention and automatic high beams.

Next up is the XLE Plus ($35,100 V6, $37,300 hybrid), which adds keyless access for the rear doors, an auto-dimming mirror and a power sunroof.

Next up is the XLE Premium ($36,500 V6, $38,800 hybrid). It adds driver memory for the seat and mirrors, an improved version of Toyota's Entune infotainment system with navigation and app functionality, a wireless device charger, a 9-speaker sound system, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

After that comes the Touring ($37,700), which is only offered with the V6. It adds sportier suspension tuning, steering-wheel paddle shifters, 18-in alloy wheels and LED headlights.

Topping the sedan's range is the Limited ($41,100 V6; $42,600 hybrid). It reverts to the standard suspension and adds xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, additional front seat power adjustments, a power rear sunshade, an 11-speaker JBL sound system and Toyota's Safety Connect system, which offers roadside assistance, automatic collision notification and more.

Safety

The 2017 Toyota Avalon comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, 10 standard airbags, a backup camera, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and intervention and automatic high beams. The XLE Premium trim and higher includes rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

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. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Avalon an excellent Top Safety Pick score due to its top performance in all crash tests and its Superior-rated front-crash prevention system.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the 2017 Avalon is surprisingly responsive and adept in the corners. Whereas older Avalons pitched and rolled around turns, the current one stays respectably flat (that's even more true of the sportier-tuned Avalon Touring). 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.

When evaluating the interior, 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 to the current model, 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-foot 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 measures a competitive 16 cu ft., and 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

2017 Buick LaCrosse -- The redesigned 2017 Buick LaCrosse challenges the Avalon for refinement, comfort and luxury while bettering it in terms of performance. Many will probably prefer its styling, as well.

2017 Kia Cadenza -- Another fully redesigned model, the value-rich Cadenza is more stylish and refined for 2017 and draws heavily from the Avalon's full-size sedan playbook. You may not have heard of it before, but the Cadenza is worth a look.

2017 Chrysler 300 -- Offering rear- or all-wheel drive, the characterful 300 is a champ on the highway. It also boasts the excellent Uconnect interface, along with optional HEMI V8 power.

Used Lexus ES -- If you're looking for a more upscale experience than the Avalon offers, consider a used ES. Mechanically identical to the Avalon, the ES boasts the high-end 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. It also boasts available hybrid or V6 powertrains, which means you can get excellent fuel economy or a surprising amount of off-the-line oomph.

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Used 2017 Toyota Avalon XLE
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Used 2017 Toyota Avalon XLE
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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.
2017 Toyota Avalon: New Car Review - Autotrader