First Look: 2011 Toyota Avalon Looks Nice, But It Won’t Raise Your Pulse

News I By Steven J. Ewing I February 10, 2010

There really isn’t a strong business case to be made for the Toyota Avalon these days, especially with the current recall mess that the automaker is currently working through. Nevertheless, Toyota has officially taken the wraps off of the redesigned 2011 Avalon, and while it doesn’t prove to be a big departure from the model it replaces, it’s still a very welcomed refresh.

First and foremost, the 2011 Avalon features a sleeker, more angular front fascia reminiscent of the new corporate face found on the Camry, Venza, and Corolla. Other visual notables include the addition of more chrome trim, as well as a slightly revised rear fascia. And while we won’t go as far to say that the Avalon looks great, it’s certainly better than the oddly proportioned model that currently sits on dealer lots.

Inside, the Avalon uses Lexus-quality materials, though the colors and technology levels are toned down versus the automaker’s premium brand. A revised rear seat arrangement features class-exclusive reclining seats, and lots of modern technology (Bluetooth, auxiliary input, etc.) is standard throughout the model range.

While this is all well and good, it’s hard to say if this slight refreshing will boost overall Avalon sales, especially with stiff competition like the Lincoln MKS and Buick LaCrosse offering better styling and driving dynamics.

For the full details, scroll down to read Toyota’s official press release, and click through our attached gallery to see dozens of photos of the new Avalon.

Toyota Reveals Redesigned 2011 Avalon at Chicago Auto Show

• Distinctive New Styling Offers a Modern, Upscale Appearance
• “Travel Avalon Class” with Segment’s Only Reclining Rear Seat and Overall Comfort
• Modern Technologies Provide Comprehensible Convenience
CHICAGO (February, 10, 2010) – Toyota introduced the boldly redesigned 2011 Avalon today at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show.  Evoking a time when travel was sophisticated, elegant and comfortable, the new Avalon possesses a distinctive new exterior style while offering a restyled interior rich with premium touch points and practical new technologies.
Even with numerous refinements inside and out, the Avalon remains true to the idea that comfort is honest and uncomplicated, and “Traveling Avalon Class” is rich in simple, familiar pleasures.
The new Avalon has dynamic and expressive lines, and an infusion of comfort, safety and technology advancements that enrich the driving experience.  Upgraded equipment and technology features, such as a touch-screen navigation system with real-time traffic, and Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability with music streaming to the audio system are among the improvements that enhance the 2011 Avalon’s excellent blend of spaciousness, comfort and technology.
“The Avalon has long been appreciated by smart, conscientious consumers who recognize quality materials and the beauty of detailed craftsmanship,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.  “The changes made for 2011 will allow us to build on our position in the premium large car segment.  The competition does not stand still, and neither do we.”
Restyled at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif., the Avalon is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), a “zero landfill” facility that also assembles the Camry, Camry Hybrid, and Venza.  It was also developed at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Dynamic New Exterior
For 2011, Calty restyled Avalon to project an elegant, outgoing presence.  A wider, more substantial grille ties into state-of-the-art projector headlamps, working with a broad, undisturbed front hood to suggest a lowered center of gravity and emphasize the Avalon’s wide stance.
The new headlamps, which combine multi-reflector halogen high beams with halogen or HID low beams, utilize light pipes to create a signature, night-time appearance.  The front fog lamps, now integrated into a trapezoidal front bumper, provide a wider angle of illumination.
Viewed from the side, the 2011 Avalon is enhanced by additional use of chrome trim, redesigned rocker panels, and glare-resistant outer mirrors with integrated turn signals.  New 17-inch wheels on the Limited grade feature a 10-spoke design with a mirror finish.
At the rear of the car, identification is cleanly defined by a single Avalon logo located above the license plate.  Dual-exhaust pipes are integrated into the cutaway trapezoid shape of the lower bumper for a modern image.  Taillights have been reshaped to reduce turbulence at the rear, helping to create a lower coefficient of drag.  The new lights integrate stop, turn and side marker lighting functions in one combined lamp.  Unique LED light pipes with dark aluminized sides and both clear and red lenses project a modern appearance.
Spacious Interior Built For Comfort
For 2011, a new interior has been designed with a contemporary style.  The new interior remains generously spacious and elegant, fitted with comfortable seating and thoughtfully integrated amenities.  Coordinated colors and rich wood-grain materials were carefully chosen to convey an optimistic attitude and modern essence.
Standard leather-trimmed front seats and seatbacks on the Limited are fitted with ventilation systems and an enlarged perforation area to help keep them cool.  Interior seats feature thicker stitching, which provides an elegant accent to the interior design.  Active front headrests are also standard.
The rear seating area is configured to seat three passengers comfortably, with ample legroom and reclining rear seats, unique in the segment.  The rear headrests have also been reshaped and enlarged for better support, and a convenient flip-down center armrest provides storage when the middle seat is not in use.
A power rear sunshade, deployable via a one-touch lever, filters direct sunlight coming through the rear window.  The sunshade, which helps to protect rear seat passengers from unwanted light and heat, automatically detracts when the driver selects reverse gear.
A new instrument panel incorporates visually attractive and highly readable Optitron gauges that use graduated white illumination with white pointers.  They are set inside smoked lenses and deep chrome rings that add depth and a sense of luxury.
The steering wheel includes controls for Bluetooth hands-free phones, the audio system, climate system, and the information center.
Technology-Enriched Environment

A comprehensive infusion of technology was designed into the new interior to ensure an enriched environment, with enhanced function and connectivity.
New standard equipment includes Bluetooth® hands-free phone and music streaming to the audio system from a compatible device, XM® satellite radio (subscription required), and both USB and 1/8-inch auxiliary connections for iPod® and other audio devices.  Each of the three available audio systems can control iPods seamlessly using switches located on the steering wheel and display track information stored in the device.
Toyota’s latest DVD Navigation system has a newly adopted database and now has easier search and address input functionality.  The Navigation system also offers new displays for road icons and points of interest, and a keyboard screen arranged in the same way as a personal computer.
The Avalon grade’s standard nine-speaker system offers exceptional sound quality, while the Limited grade features a standard 12-speaker, 660-watt JBL Premium Synthesis audio system with enhanced two-coil sub-woofer.  The system uses 12 speakers and a 12-channel digital amplifier to deliver profoundly rich, full sound to all seats of the vehicle.
A rear-view monitor function is standard in the rear-view mirror or with the navigation system.  The rear-view-mirror image includes on-screen back-up guides that help drivers to back into parking spots or driveways.
Performance and Efficiency Combined
Avalon’s exceptional combination of ample horsepower and excellent fuel economy offers one of the best overall dynamic performances in the large sedan segment.
The 2011 Avalon is powered by a 24-valve, dual-overhead cam 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm.  The engine is equipped with the latest dual VVT-i electronic valve-control mechanism that provides a broader powerband, while requiring less fuel and generating fewer emissions.  It is mated to a multi-mode six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2011 Avalon is an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV), EPA-estimated to deliver 20 mpg in the city, 29 highway, and 23 combined, as good as or better than any V6 model in the segment.
A roadworthy mix of fine ride quality and accurate driving control is delivered by the Avalon’s MacPherson strut suspension, which uses coil springs at all four corners.  Rack-and-pinion steering combines with front-wheel-drive and optimized steering gear for a natural handling feel.
Simple Comforts Throughout
A dual-zone climate control system has nine air-flow modes for more precise control of interior climate, and a clean-air filter removes dust and pollen.  Doors use three stop positions instead of two for easier entrance and exit.  A lockable glove box has a pneumatic-door damper and inner box illumination.  The front-console box has a sliding armrest that moves 4.7 inches front to rear, able to accommodate a wide range of driver positions.  The elegantly stitched top is padded with a double density cushion material for softness.  Inside, there is a 12-volt outlet in addition to the USB and auxiliary audio terminals.
Safety is Standard
The new Avalon’s occupant-safety strategy includes use of extensively tested energy absorbing structures, protective side impact beams and overhead structure, advanced belt systems and active front headrests as standard equipment.  Avalon will also have a redesigned accelerator pedal assembly and a brake override system.
Seven airbags, including a front knee bag for the driver, and front side curtain airbags for both rows, are also standard.  Toyota’s standard Star Safety System includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and TRAC traction control system.  TRAC and VSC functions can be disengaged if the driver needs to free the vehicle if stuck in mud or snow.
A full-size spare and alloy wheel is standard.  Each wheel has its own pressure sensor to warn if tire pressure drops, providing the driver with an early warning to find a safe place to change a tire.
Simplified Packaging
The 2011 Avalon will be available in two grades when it arrives in showrooms in the spring of 2010, Avalon and Limited.  Both grades will be well equipped with standard equipment like eight-way leather-trimmed power driver’s seats, back-up camera, dual zone automatic climate control with air filtration, moonroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.  Limited will have additional standard equipment, such as an eight-way passenger’s seat with lumbar support, driver’s seat cushion extension, rain-sensing wipers, Smart Key and cooled leather seats.  Avalon grade can be upgraded with features like a JBL Synthesis sound system and heated front seats, while Navigation is optional for both grades.
Color and Trim
Avalon will be available in nine exterior colors including three new colors: Zephyr Blue Metallic, Cypress Pearl and Sizzling Crimson Mica.  Additional colors include Cocoa Bean Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black, and Sandy Beach Metallic.  Avalon grade will be mated to three leather-trimmed interior colors: Ivory, Light Gray, and Black.  Limited grade receives Ivory, Light Gray, and Black Bordeaux trims with accent-color trim on the vertical surfaces.
Limited Warranty
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items.  Additional 60-month warranties cover powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation.  Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.
The redesigned 2011 Avalon will begin arriving at Toyota dealerships nationally in spring 2010

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