2011 Toyota Avalon Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Revised front fascia with new headlights and LED taillamps
  • New center console
  • Next-generation navigation system
  • Updated gas pedal and emergency shut-off
  • Standard in-mirror backup camera
  • New standard Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • New standard Bluetooth audio streaming
  • Lineup simplified to just two models: Avalon and Limited
  • Carryover 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • Arrives in dealerships in spring of 2010

Introduction

2011 Toyota AvalonDebuting in 1994, the Toyota Avalon is the largest sedan and the flagship of the automaker's car lineup. Often referenced as a large version of the popular Toyota Camry because it shares the same platform, the early Avalon models did little to differentiate themselves in terms of luxury from their smaller siblings. Now in its third generation, last completely redesigned for the 2005 model year, the Avalon has moved upscale with sleek styling and a wood-trimmed interior. In 2008, Toyota updated the Avalon's transmission with a new 6-speed unit, improved the braking system, and updated the exterior and option package lineup. For 2011-the seventh year of this platform-Toyota is again treating the Avalon to a refresh, this time including a new front fascia, new dashboard console and updated electronics.

To appeal to the traditional large-car buyer, Toyota has equipped the Avalon with features more commonly reserved for models in the premium segments. As a result, today's Avalon earns the badge as the flagship of Toyota's car lineup. The refreshed 2011 Toyota Avalon will arrive at dealerships nationally in the spring of 2010.

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2011 Toyota Avalon

Design

While the platform is a carryover for 2011, Toyota fitted the Avalon with a redesigned front fascia, new headlamps, and rear taillamps utilizing LED technology. In addition, Toyota gave the Avalon a new instrument panel with Optitron gauges that have bright white illumination with white pointers. According to Toyota, the new look is not only attractive, but is highly readable.

Model Lineup

Toyota simplified the Avalon model lineup for 2011 by going from a three-model lineup to just two: Avalon and Limited. The standard model includes leather upholstery, backup camera, dual rear exhaust, 9-speaker stereo, dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free music streaming, USB audio port and reclining rear seats. The top-line Limited version of the Avalon includes Toyota's Smart Key system, heated and ventilated front seats, 12-speaker JBL Synthesis stereo with 660 watts of power, power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights. It is interesting to note that Toyota fits all models of the Avalon with three door-stop positions instead of two. This eases entrance and exit, according to Toyota.

Optional equipment on the new 2011 Toyota Avalon includes heated seats for the standard models and a voice-activated DVD navigation system for both grades. Also available is Dynamic Laser Cruise Control (DLCC) and a sporty rear deck-lid spoiler.

2011 Toyota Avalon

Hardware

The 2011 Toyota Avalon retains the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine that is under the hood of the 2010 model. The engine includes both dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and a dual-stage variable intake manifold for steady and smooth power throughout the range, says Toyota. Tuned to generate 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, the direct-injection powerplant is mated to a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive Avalon is rated at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 23 mpg-equal to or better than any of its 6-cylinder competitors, according to the company.

The suspension is independent MacPherson struts with offset coil springs and stabilizer bar up front, with dual-link independent MacPherson struts with offset coil springs in the rear. The brakes are discs on all four corners, with the front rotors ventilated. The power steering features variable assist, based on engine speed. All models of the 2011 Avalon are fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels-an upgrade from last year's 16-inch size on the entry-level models. In addition, all models have a full-size alloy spare tire.

2011 Toyota Avalon

Safety

Standard safety features on the refreshed 2011 Toyota Avalon include dual front air bags, front-seat-mounted air bags, two rows of side curtain air bags, and a driver's knee air bag-still rare in the segment. The anti-lock braking system includes electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). Electronic vehicle stability control (VSC) with traction control and brake assist is also standard on all models.

Technology

The 2011 Toyota Avalon in Limited trim is available with Dynamic Laser Cruise Control (DLCC). The electric cruise control automatically slows the Avalon to match the speed of the vehicle ahead to maintain a safe following distance. The system switches between two modes-the traditional constant-speed mode familiar to all cruise-control users and a vehicle-to-vehicle mode that uses a laser sensor and computer to keep track of the car in the lane ahead. Drivers set a distance that they're comfortable with-ranging from 100 to 245 feet-and the car will adjust the throttle and braking to maintain that distance behind the traffic ahead. Toyota notes that DLCC is not a collision-avoidance system, but rather a vehicle speed control device best used on highways with light to moderate traffic.