2013 Toyota Avalon First Look
2013 Toyota Avalon adds passion to the brand's premium sedan
Total Car Score Analysis
The all-new 2013 Toyota Avalon represents not only a new take on Toyota’s premium sedan, but a new take on how Toyota is going to approach the process of designing, engineering and building cars for the American market. As the brand’s flagship model the Avalon was always the most upscale Toyota available, but the 2013 version now captures what Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, wants in the company’s future – “More exciting vehicles.”
Long known for its stable, refined and…well, let’s just call it sedate nature, the new Avalon is meant to evoke emotion from a visual standpoint while engaging the driver from a dynamic standpoint. It was designed and engineered in America, and Toyota tells us there was an unprecedented level of collaboration between those two teams from day one of the development process. The 2013 Avalon will also be built in Georgetown, Kentucky, making it arguably the most “American” Toyota in the history of the brand. It will offer a hybrid drivetrain with class leading fuel efficiency, as well as a traditional V6 drivetrain, and it goes on sale in late November. While we haven't yet driven the 2013 Toyota Avalon, we did get a recent sneak peak at this new premium sedan.
The Avalon’s updated exterior design is meant to broaden the car’s appeal through more elegant and athletic styling. While the car’s wheelbase remains the same, the outer shape is all new, offering improved aerodynamics, less wind and road noise, as well as a more efficient use of interior space. A sloping C-pillar and large rear window brings the roofline and trunk together above wraparound LED taillights and (on V6 models) dual exhaust outlets. And while the Avalon’s rear overhang has been reduced to tighten up exterior dimensions, the new car’s trunk is actually 1.6 cubic feet larger (for a total of 16 cubic feet).
The front grille features square projector-beam HID headlights accented by LED daytime running lights. A narrow upper grille connects the Avalon’s headlights, while a large trapezoidal lower grille with chrome accents adds a premium component. The car’s exterior is actually a combination of multiple bodylines and surfaces running along the hood, trunk and taillight sections. The effect could have been “busy” or “convoluted,” but these multi-plane surfaces are executed in a subtle manner that adds character rather than confusion. The 2013 Avalon is likely a sign of things to come in terms of Toyota’s future design language, and that’s a good thing.
Engines and Transmissions
The big news for the 2013 Avalon is the availability of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. This is the first time a full hybrid powertrain will be available in the large/premium sedan segment. In the new Avalon this system will be made up of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (running Atkinson cycle combustion) teamed with two motors powered by 204 nick-metal hydride battery cells (located behind the rear seat). The hybrid drivetrain will produce 200 horsepower and deliver an expected 40 city, 39 highway and 40 combined mpg rating from the EPA, giving the Avalon a range of 680 miles on a tank of gas and highest fuel efficiency figures in the segment.
Three driving modes are available in the Avalon Hybrid: EV, ECO and Sport. In EV, the Avalon can travel up to one mile at speeds up to 25 mph (assuming the battery has a sufficient charge). In ECO mode the gasoline engine works with the two motors to reduce fuel consumption, while in SPORT mode the drivetrain’s full power is delivered for maximum performance (and an estimated 8.2-second zero-to-60 time).
A 3.5-liter V6 engine, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, is also offered in the 2013 Avalon. The engine features an aluminum block and makes 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Three driving modes, ECO, NORMAL and SPORT are also offered with this engine. ECO mode reduces throttle response and climate control energy to improve fuel efficiency. SPORT mode increases throttle response as well as steering feel in the electric power steering (EPS) system. In a further nod to driving enthusiasm, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters let the driver quickly select gears without moving the shift lever from the “D” to “S” gate. Zero-to-60 times are expected in the 7.0-second range, with fuel mileage estimates of 21 city, 31 highway and 25 combined mpg.
Interior Design and Function
The theme of emotional engagement was carried over from the exterior to the interior. Hand stitching along the steering wheel, dash, seats and cupholders (all of which are wrapped in leather) gives the 2013 Avalon’s cabin a premium appearance even before you start the engine and see the electroluminescent gauges, TFT touchscreen display and available ambient lighting.
New capacitive buttons in the center stack remove the traditional “push” of pushbutton controls. Instead, the capacitive buttons sense your fingertips and perform their functions as you touch the flat (but clearly marked) control areas related to climate, audio and navigation. A second set of buttons on the steering wheel spokes allows the driver to initiate voice commands and audio functions, or to scroll through the display screen located between the primary gauges.
The quality of the seat leather, along with improved seat bolstering and abundant legroom (front and rear), adds to the 2013 Avalon’s upscale cabin. A metallic-like finish on the center stack, instrument panel, door panels and steering wheel further enhances the interior’s appearance. A USB port under the flip-up center console tray confirms a sense of real-world function (it’s the perfect cell phone storage unit).
Primary Features and Options
Standard features, like the aforementioned USB port, plus an auxiliary audio port, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and three 12-volt power outlets, emphasize the 2013 Avalon’s technology focus. But options like radar cruise control, a JBL audio system, ambient interior lighting, heated and cooled front seats, a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen and three-zone automatic climate control extend the car’s premium pedigree into the luxury class.
Safety features include 10 standard airbags, and an optional impact sensing pre-collision system, blind spot monitoring and a rear cross traffic alert system.
It’s Perfect For…
The new 2013 Toyota Avalon is meant to broaden the model’s past appeal. Car buyers looking for an engaging, premium sedan with attractive styling, advanced technology and an upscale cabin should give the new Avalon a close look when it goes on sale in late November. The 2013 Avalon Hybrid will offer class-leading fuel efficiency while the traditional V6 model is expected to provide a more compelling driving experience than previous versions. It's certainly not your older brother's Toyota Avalon.
Vehicle: 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
Base MSRP of Vehicle: N/A (approximately $35,000)
Options on Vehicle: JBL Synthesis Premium Audio, HDD Premium Navigation, Dynamic Cruise Control,
MSRP of Vehicle (including destination charge): N/A (approximately $39,000)
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.