The Avalon is the flagship sedan for Toyota and continues to be a comfortable, well-rounded entry among full-size sedans with lots of family-friendly features. Of course, most consumers are opting for SUVs instead of large sedans these days. But the Avalon is still available in a variety of trims and with different options, including all-wheel-drive and a hybrid model, and offers excellent value for consumers.
Base Price: $42,175
As Tested: $44,728
Mileage: 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway/28 mpg combined
The Avalon’s been around a long time. It was first introduced for the 1995 model year. Starting in the 2013 model year, the Avalon has been built on the same platform as the Lexus ES, and the two sedans share many similarities. It’s now in its fifth generation and got its most recent redesign for 2019. For 2021, all-wheel-drive is offered for the first time, the new XSE Nightshade trim is added, and Android Auto becomes standard.
The five-passenger 2021 Avalon comes in five trims: XLE, Limited, Touring, XSE Night Shade, and TRD. Starting prices range from $35,875 to $42,875. These are higher than average for the class; however, even the base XLE trim comes well equipped with lots of features and tech. Front-wheel-drive is standard, and all-wheel-drive is available but only with a four-cylinder engine instead of the standard V6.
The 2021 Avalon Hybrid has starting prices of $37,000 to $43,300.
The standard engine on the gas-powered Avalon is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Or you can get all-wheel-drive and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 205 horses and 185 pound-feet on the XLE and Limited models at no extra charge. Both powertrains are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Avalon is all about providing a smooth, enjoyable ride instead of sporty performance. Acceleration is a bit pokey with the four-cylinder engine. But once you’re up to speed, there’s enough power to merge and pass at freeway speeds. The Avalon feels planted when cornering, especially with AWD. The eight-speed shifts smoothly and quickly, and always seems to find the right gear. The Avalon is comfortable whether you’re cruising on a long road trip or running errands and shuttling kids around town.
Fuel efficiency is good for a full-size sedan. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway for a combined rating of 28. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant and attractive with nice materials. Especially on the upper trims, it’s easy to think you’re in a Lexus. Seats are supportive and comfy, and adults in both rows enjoy lots of leg- and headroom. Controls are logically laid out and the touchscreen is easy to reach.
Standard features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats with and eight-way power adjustments, seven-inch multi-information display, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with nine-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, four USB ports, one 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi hot spot and LED automatic high-beam headlights.
Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed front seats, synthetic leather rear seats, heated rear seats, 14-speaker JBL audio system, navigation, USB media port, wireless device charging, ambient lighting and a moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and pedestrian detection.
Available driver assistance technologies include front and rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic braking.
The Entune infotainment system with its nine-inch touchscreen is user-friendly with menus that are logically laid out. The system responds quickly to touch commands, but sometimes had a tough time figuring out voice commands, especially when trying to say a navigation destination. Redundant physical controls also make it quick to adjust audio and climate functions. Many functions can’t be used while driving to help keep drivers focused on the road ahead.
The Avalon has an average-sized trunk for the class with 16 cubic feet of space. There’s plenty of room for lots of grocery bags or several suitcases. I had no trouble fitting everything from a Costco run in there. The rear seats split-fold 60/40. The cabin has numerous cubbies, cupholders and a roomy center console for stashing smaller items.
Good fuel efficiency for the class
Attractive, comfortable and roomy cabin
Good value for the money
Lots of standard and available features and tech
Higher-than-average starting prices
AWD only available on two trims and with four-cylinder engine
My tester starts at $42,175. The Advanced Safety Package is $1,150 and includes birds eye view camera with perimeter scan and intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross-traffic braking. The All Weather Package is $259. Wheel locks are $80. Rear bumper applique is $69. Delivery fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $44,728.
If you’re shopping for a full-size sedan, the 2021 Toyota Avalon should be on your list. It’s got everything you want including decent performance, smooth ride, good fuel economy, a comfortable, upscale and roomy cabin, user-friendly infotainment system, and lots of standard and available features and tech.