When it comes to luxury flagships, the Toyota Avalon has always been somewhere in the neighborhood of the current Cadillac DTS. Since its introduction in 1995, the Toyota Avalon has been a superb vehicle in the luxury and technology departments but lacking when it comes to offering a bold, inspiring design. Judging by the looks of the redesigned 2011 Toyota Avalon that was unveiled at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota has finally matched the Avalon's well-appointed cabin with a deserving style both inside and out. The new-look Toyota Avalon will go on sale later this spring.
Unlike most mid-cycle design updates, most of the Avalon's exterior has been updated except for the roofline and greenhouse. The new face of the Avalon mirrors that of theÂ Toyota Camry with thin, angled headlamps that are better incorporated with the large chrome grille. The redesigned fascia and hood also help to give the car a more upscale and elegant look by adding slight creases and detailed lines. The headlights now stretch back to form a new body crease that runs the length of the car which is a major improvement over the slab-sided 2005-2010 Avalon models. The rear view of the car also exposes longer, thinner taillights that now feature brighter LED bulbs. A subtle yet effective way Toyota completely changed the rear look of the car was by moving the license plate from the fascia up into the decklid and using a thick, stylish chrome bar to highlight the Avalon name. New wheel designs finish off the new styling of the 2011 Avalon.
The Avalon already had a luxurious cabin, so the updates made for 2011 focused on adding style and character to the big sedan most notably to the center stack and instrument panel. The new instrument panel gives the cabin more of a cockpit look with the taller, skinnier center stack providing for better visual division between the driver and passenger areas. The shape and layout of the center console has remained the same, but the wood trim now gives it a more upscale look to match the instrument panel, door panels and steering wheel. For the driver, the new gauge cluster uses Optitron gauges for better visibility and better styling, and the new layout provides less clutter as it is now separate from the optional navigation system which itself has been extensively upgraded. The base Avalon gets a standard nine-speaker audio system with a single disc CD/MP3/WMA player, and the Avalon Limited has a 12-speaker, 660-watt JBL system with an integrated six disc CD/MP3/WMA player. All available audio systems come standard with a USB port, auxiliary jack and the Bluetooth connectivity hands-free phone and music streaming functions.
Another big change that the new Avalon received was that it essentially dropped the XL trim level and is only available in two trim levels instead of three like the 2010. This simplified packaging gave the base Avalon standard equipment such as leather seating with an eight-way power driver's seat, dual zone automatic climate control, moonroof and a backup camera. The Avalon Limited adds even more luxury features such as cooled front seats, an eight-way power front passenger seat, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Toyota's Smart Key system. The 2011 Toyota Avalon will be available in nine exterior colors and three interior colors.
In light of the major recall issues the automaker is having, Toyota was quick to point out that the new Avalon comes with a redesigned accelerator pedal and a brake override system, but the 2011 also comes with plenty of standard safety equipment. Other standard safety features include seven airbags, active front head restraints, tire pressure monitoring system and Toyota's Star Safety System (which includes electronic brake-force distribution with brake assist, four-wheel anti-lock brake system, vehicle stability control and traction control).
Despite the major visual changes to the 2011 Toyota Avalon's interior and exterior, the drivetrain and suspension components carry over relatively unchanged. The updated luxury sedan still uses the 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 with dual intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i), and it still produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Paired up with the same six-speed automatic transmission, the only real powertrain change for 2011 is slightly better city fuel economy with EPA estimates of 20 miles per gallon in the city (1 mpg higher than the 2010 Avalon) and 28 mpg on the highway.
Pricing for the redesigned 2011 Toyota Avalon probably won't be released until closer to the vehicle's launch date, but the new MSRP likely won't vary much from the $27,945 starting price of the 2010 Avalon.