Believe your eyes: this is the Toyota Avalon. One of the most conservative cars on the market is all-new and radically different. The styling is sporty and swoopy rather than boxy and stodgy. It’s not just younger-looking; it’s actually lighter by some 110 pounds. It gains a hybrid powertrain, the same one used in the Camry, to achieve 40 mpg combined. The Avalon still offers Toyota’s tried-and-true — and very smooth — 3.5-liter V-6, again paired with a six-speed automatic. Tuning and gearing changes help improve its fuel economy to 25 mpg combined. The interior, which has always been as comfortable and well assembled as in a luxury car, now looks the part as well. The stylish new dash has an organic yet sporty aesthetic that looks similar to that of the pricier Lexus GS but with a simpler control layout. We’ve yet to drive the 2013 Avalon, but Toyota promises that its stouter structure, stiffer new dampers, and sportier steering will transform the formerly fuddy-duddy driving experience. Even if the Avalon hasn’t turned into a Porsche Panamera, it should be a very compelling alter-native in the full-size segment.
Hyundai Genesis sedan
new for 2013
The Avalon is dramatically redesigned this year, with all-new interior and exterior styling and a retuned suspension. A hybrid powertrain is offered for the first time.
Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
Youthful new exterior
Hybrid fuel efficiency
Name carries some baggage
Base Price Range: $34,300–$38,000 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: Avalon, Limited
BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 200 hp, 153 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 268 hp, 248 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: N/A