Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon & Avalon Hybrid

?Toyota?s Avalon: All-new 4th generation for 2013??

2013 Toyota Avalon - Front view

Toyota first introduced the Avalon in 1995 based on the same platform as their Camry, replacing the Cressida here in the U.S. The second generation bowed in 2000 and the third generation launched in 2005. Now, for the 2013 model year, comes the fourth generation Avalon that for want of a better description has become more Lexus-like across the board.

The Avalon was originally intended to bridge the gap between Toyota and Lexus as Toyota?s flagship, but it lacked emotion and seemed to appeal more to the Buick crowd. It was a cut above the Camry, but fell short of entry-level Lexus models.

?2013 Toyota Avalon - Rear view

All that has changed. Toyota made the decision to reach out to a new group of more youthful, performance oriented buyers by creating an all-new image for the 2013 Toyota Avalon – an image that seems to encroach into Lexus territory. Not a bad thing for Toyota for sure, but perhaps not such a good thing for entry-level Lexus model sales.

2013 Toyota Avalon - Front

The 2013 Toyota Avalon will appear in four trim levels: the base XLE; XLE Premium; XLE Touring; and Limited. There will be both gasoline versions and Hybrid versions. The Hybrid will not be available in base XLE trim. All models will be front-wheel drive and no all- wheel drive system is planned at this time. Pricing will range from $30,990 for a base XLE gasoline powered Avalon to $41,400 for a Limited Hybrid version. All models will incur a $760 Destination charge. A livery package will be available soon. Equipment content is based upon trim level selected

There will be two power sources for the new Avalon: a Gas 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24 valve dual VVT-I V6 with electronic Toyota Direct injection that produces 268?horsepower and 248 pound feet of torque; and a Hybrid version with Toyota?s Hybrid Synergy Drive System that consists of a 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve VVT-I Atkinson Cycle inline four-cylinder engine with permanent magnet AC Synchronous Motor. whose power output is105kW along with199 lb.-ft torque.@ 0-1,500 rpm. The four-cylinder engine makes 156 horses and a like amount of torque. The Hybrid Battery Pack is made up of??????????? Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries 244.8 V (204 cells, 1.2V per cell)? with a 6.5 ampere hour rating and- 650 volts maximum. The Hybrid System?s net horsepower is 200.

2013 Toyota Avalon - Engine compartment

Gas model Avalons will meter power to the front wheels via an electronically controlled six-speed automatic (Touring and Limited models will feature paddle shifters), while Hybrids will utilize an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission. Despite serving up ample doses of horsepower, 2013 Toyota Avalon?delivers outstanding fuel economy ratings. The gas version Avalons rate as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, and is expected to deliver 21 mpg in city driving, and 31 mpg when operating on freeways. The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid models deliver 40- mpg, both in the city and on the highway and feature Sport Eco and EV driving modes.

This latest iteration Avalon showcases a distinctive new exterior style along with an interior that also features a rich new interior design with new technologies and a host of convenience amenities. The new design was penned at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif., while assembly takes place at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, where the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Venza are also put together.

2013 Toyota Avalon - Interior

The dynamic new exterior leads off with a more substantial lower grille that is Aston-Martin-like, flanked by state-of-the-art projector headlamps. The hood is broad and uncluttered, creating the sense of a lowered center of gravity that also aids in emphasizing the wide stance of the Avalon. Fog lamps are now integrated into the trapezoidal front bumper, allowing for a wider illumination angle. Out back, dual rectangular exhaust pipes are integrated into the lower bumper?s trapezoidal form. Taillights have been reshaped to reduce airflow turbulence, and incorporate stop, turn and side marker functions. Unique LED light pipes in keeping with a recent popular trend lend a custom look.

The 2013 Toyota Avalon in any of its forms is a luxurious, premium sedan that seats five adult passengers in roomy comfort. The new Avalon includes a host of standard features and equipment – too extensive to elaborate upon here. Only one option is available – the Technology Package.

Safety features abound -? seven airbags, including a front knee bag for the driver and front side curtain airbags for both seating rows; Vehicle Stability Control; ABS; Electronic Brake Force Distribution; Brake Assist; and Traction Control.

2013 Toyota Avalon - Passenger

I was able to test several versions of the 2013 Toyota Avalon in a variety of scenarios. I piloted both gasoline and Hybrid versions from base to Limited trim, and all were impressive.

SUMMARY:? The 2013 Toyota Avalon is positioned well above the popular Camry and rightfully so, since the level of comfort and convenience warrant such placement. The rear seating provides plenty of legroom for those in the 6 and a half-foot range, even when behind forward passengers of the same height. The rear seats also recline for added comfort, and there is a power rear sunshade to protect rear occupants from undesirable levels of heat and light, which retract automatically when reverse gear is engaged. A rear center armrest with cupholders and storage may be folded down when there are only two rear passengers, and there is a trunk pass through provided as well.

The steering wheel both tilts and telescopes, but with separate controls, and features controls for Bluetooth hands-free phones, the audio system, climate system and the information center. The new instrument panel displays attractive and easily legible gauges that utilize graduated white illumination with white pointers, that are set inside smoked lenses, trimmed by deep chrome rings. The Nav system provides real-time traffic prompts ? invaluable for trouble-free commuting (if there is such a thing). Toyota?s Entune connectivity system allows for staying in touch while on the road.

2013 Toyota Avalon - Wheels

Acceleration is crisp and power output is plentiful with smooth gear changes delivered by the 6-speed automatic gearbox in the gas models, while the Hybrid Avalon performs equally well, even with its CVT gearbox. Handling attributes are positive and confidence inspiring. The Avalon is quite luxurious, and though it?s not officially categorized as a sport sedan, it is capable of holding its own with many more expensive competitors. In any case, the new Avalon is an ideal vehicle for traveling in comfort with sufficient cupholders and storage for added convenience and security for all occupants, or for taking an occasional romp on the track. Yes, it?s that good.

SPECIFICATIONS: Toyota Avalon & Avalon Hybrid-?13

Base Price: $30,990. (Base XLE)-$ 39,650. (Limited) – $41,400 for XLE Limited Hybrid. add $2,360 for XLE Premium – Hybrid Base XLE trim not available in Hybrid)/
Price as Tested: Add $760. Destination and handling for all models.
Engine Type and Size: Gas 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve dual VVT-I V6 with electronic Toyota Direct injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 268 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 248 @ 4,700 rpm

Hybrid Synergy Drive System

2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve VVT-I Atkinson Cycle inline four-cylinder with permanent magnet AC Synchronous Motor. – power output – 105kW @ 4,500 rpm / torque 199 lb.-ft.@ 0-1,500 rpm.

Horsepower (bhp): 156 @ 5,700 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 156 @ 4,500 rpm

Battery Pack: Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride 244.8 V (204 cells, 1.2V per cell) / 6.5 ampere hour – 650 volts maximum.

Hybrid System net horsepower = 200.

Transmission: Gas – Six-speed electronically controlled automatic.

Hybrid – electronically controlled CVT

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine w / Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut with 25 mm stabilizer bar.

Rear – Dual link MacPherson strut with 18 mm stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS., BA, TC, EBD and VSC.
Tires: Michelin – P225/45 R18 XLE Limited Hybrid mounted on 9-spoke alloy wheels (gas) / P215/55 R17 – XLE Touring on15-spoke alloy wheels
Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Length Overall: 195.2 inches
Width: 72.2 inches
Height: 57.5 inches
Curb Weight: 3,461 lbs. – Gas XLE Grade. 3,585 – Hybrid XLE Premium.
Fuel Capacity: 17.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 21 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.28
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.





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