Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: The 2011 Toyota Avalon Limited gives a taste of luxury at a reasonable price

We didn't have high expectations for the Avalon. When Peter mentioned to a friend that he was driving the full-size Toyota, she replied, "Oh, my dad has one of those." Exactly. Call it the Daddy demographic, which invokes images of a big, bland sedan with a cushy ride and bargelike handling. But we were pleasantly surprised.

Appearance: The Avalon is no design exercise. Its clean lines are devoid of any pronounced creases — except for a subdued one that runs the length of the body. Toyota gave the grille and headlights a bolder facelift for 2011 and the taillights are now upswept LEDs. There's more chrome on the exterior but not enough to call attention to itself.

Performance: The 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 has adequate power for the 3,600-pound car, even on the interstate, and the 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with sequential shift changes gears smoothly. The ride is controlled and comfortable, and the front-wheel-drive Avalon simply gobbles up bumps and uneven roads. The handling is steadfast, but we wouldn't exactly say the Avalon likes any sudden surprises.

Interior: In a word, plush. We had the top-of-the-line Limited trim, but the base Avalon comes with many upscale features. Lyra liked the elegant matte-wood finish on the doors, dash and steering wheel. (Peter found that finish on the steering wheel can be slippery where it's not covered in leather.) The quiet cabin is spacious and comfortable, with more than enough headroom and legroom. Peter especially liked that the rear seats recline — a bonus for taller passengers. The interior also features heated, ventilated leather seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver and four-way adjustment for the passenger, as well as lumbar support for both. Our tester had the Limited's added gadgetry of push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade and the optional voice-activated touch-screen navigation. Standard are the backup camera and the Bluetooth phone connection. Open the rear armrest and there are two cup holders and a storage compartment, as well as a pass-through to the large trunk. One nit, which we also see in its Lexus cousins: The mirror adjustment controls are difficult to get to — this time they're on the dash behind the steering wheel instead of on the doors.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Rear seats: They recline, which is a practical touch.

Drivability: The Avalon does well what it sets out to do.

Suspension: Even on rough roads, it is up to the task.

Lyra Solochek

Tactile treat: Wood trim with a matte finish felt smooth to the touch; it was especially nice on the steering wheel.

Floaty ride: Like driving on a cloud.

Luxury: Feel of a Lexus, price of a Toyota.

The bottom line: For the driver of a certain age who likes plenty of comfort at a not-too-outrageous price, the Avalon offers a taste of luxury without having to pay the premium of its Lexus cousins.

2011 Toyota Avalon Limited

Price: $32,595 start, $37,884 as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 with dual VVT-i, 6-speed electronically controlled transmission with sequential shift

Horsepower: 268 at 6,200 rpm

Torque: 248 pound-feet at 4,700 rpm

Curb weight: 3,616 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 111

Length, 197.6

Width, 72.8

Fuel economy:

20 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway

Safety features: Vehicle stability control with traction control, ABS with electronic brake control, brake assist, air bags and curtains, side-impact door beams

Options worth considering: Voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system


The Daily Drivers: The 2011 Toyota Avalon Limited gives a taste of luxury at a reasonable price 03/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week


    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma


    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]