2013 Toyota Avalon
Base price: $30,990
As tested: $39,650
MPG: 21 city mpg /31 highway mpg
- Stylish new look
- Luxury-like interior
- Lower base price
- Confusing Entune® audio system
- Touch-screen controls especially sensitive
- Hybrid shudder
By Jim Prueter
For the 2013 model year, Toyota has redesigned its full-sized Avalon sedan. But it’s more than just a redesign — it’s an entirely new design language that will roll out across the entire lineup in coming years, aiming to reach a younger buyer.
On the outside of the 2013 Avalon, a tautly sculpted body has replaced the almost plump look of all previous models. Up front, headlamps are square and the grille has a more aggressive look. In back, the Avalon is sculpted with sharper lines and attractive, slimmer tail lamps. Overall, it’s vastly improved over the previous model, but still on the conservative side, if in a more stylish, premium way. It isn’t as refined as a Lexus, but it’s close.
The completely new interior is a stylish and thought-through space. Soft-touch materials abound with hand stitching on the dashboard and seats. Leather, wood, and brushed aluminum trim accented the Limited trim model we test drove. Front bucket seats are extra wide, yet supportive, and quite soft.
Although there’s plenty of room up front, rear-seat passengers will find a bit less leg, hip, and shoulder room in the rear seat. Headroom remains the same, and the trunk is bigger than the previous model’s.
The 2013 Avalon comes in XLE and Limited grades with several sub-trim levels, and is powered by the 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, both carryovers from the previous model. But, fuel economy is up significantly in the government’s city/highway mpg combined ratings.
For the first time, there’s also a hybrid version of the Avalon. Similar to the gas-electric Camry and Lexus ES hybrid models, it uses the latest iteration of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, returning an impressive 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway. However, we remain disappointed by the shudder and shake that happens when the engine switches between electric- and gas-engine modes. The hybrid also costs almost $5,000 more than the base V-6 model.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recognized the new Avalon with its highest “Top Safety Pick for 2013” designation. Likewise, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has awarded it with its highest possible 5 Star overall rating.
The improved technology, sporty ride, handling characteristics, and stylish new look will make the new Avalon appealing to younger buyers. Toyota says those looks telegraph the make’s future designs. If that’s true, Toyota customers have a stylish future ahead.
Jim Prueter, an automotive writer based in Phoenix, has provided reviews and advice about cars, driving, safety, and transportation for more than 20 years.