2008 Toyota Avalon
After driving the 2008 Toyota Avalon
one quickly realizes why, as a company, Toyota continually wins the hearts of America's drivers. Time and time again, the automaker produces well-made, consistent and appealing vehicles. Their Avalon is no exception. It is quick, a surprising trait in a sedan that tips the scales at 3,500 lbs. The V-6 has plentiful power for any tough driving situation, and a new six-speed transmission improves on already good fuel-economy and acceleration. Its exterior design has elements of spunk, something rarely found in large and economical sedans. Sliding into the cabin, you will find that the interior emanates comfort and sophistication. Leather and wood highlight the soft metals and bright gauges in the instrument panel. All of this comes in under $35,000 for even the most luxurious of trims. It is not perfect, the navigation system isn’t up to par and there are a few unintuitive features. But, well, that’s it. Toyota, by all appearances, has done it again.
What's to Like
Its swank interior surpasses others in its class. Storage spaces fill the cabin and the instrument panel's buttons are actually big enough to see from a distance. The drive is also energetic, with responsive V-6 performance and inspired handling.
What's Not to Like
The covers over the various radio and navigation controls are a good idea, though they can be fussy at times when you're in a hurry. A lack of usually customary features and intuitive controls makes the navigation system a poor choice next to segment competitors.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
From the exterior, we wouldn’t have thought the big Avalon would be as fast as it is. We found acceleration to be impressive, thanks to the strong V-6 powering the front wheels. Toyota would benefit from offering a V-8 though, something many competitors deliver. During the modest refresh, the Avalon gained a new six-speed transmission – a smart changeup from the old five-speed. While the gains are not enormous in fuel-economy and acceleration, the updated transmission brings those already notable qualities even closer to perfection. When the urge to clamber around mountain roads hits, putting the Avalon into Sport mode holds revs for a longer stretch. The large sedan involves you during dynamic driving to some degree, but the steering is too light to allow you any illusions that it’s a Supra you’re driving, not an Avalon. Still, you’ll find yourself happily content on any road thanks to its supple and supportive ride.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Avalon boasts a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Its front wheels are driven by a six-speed automatic transmission. The Touring Edition has a sport-tuned suspension for a more athletic drive experience.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
With this cruiser, you’ll have luxury trimmings at even the base level. Eight-way power driver’s seat, power doors, locks and windows, cruise control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and dual zone climate control are just a few of the Avalon’s standard features. A moonroof is also available, as are rain-sensing windshield washers.
Key Technology Evaluation
The navigation system, while competent in many areas, falls short of others in its class. It lacks key features and the voice recognition doesn’t recognize many commands. The standard audio system is enough for most, but those who truly value their aural experience during a drive should opt for the JBL system. In addition to the auxiliary input jack and six-disc CD/MP3 player, you get satellite radio, Bluetooth capability, 12 speakers and 360 watts of sound. Prepare to be blown away.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The addition of an extra gear has bumped the Avalon’s gas mileage up to 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. This is impressive fuel economy considering the large V-6 powering the car. It also receives a ULEV-II emissions rating.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Sporting a luxuriously appointed interior space, the Avalon feels like a second home the instant you settle into the well-cushioned seats. Wood grain or leather trim add finesse, depending on which Avalon suits your fancy. The sedan also possesses a huge, 14.4 cubic foot trunk. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split for even more cargo room if you should choose.
While you’ll have to search hard to see it, the Avalon received a minor update to the grille, bumper and headlamps for 2008. The taillights have an added tint to them as well. Though subtle, the refresh renews the car’s look, giving its 197 inches a more upscale feel.
Market Segment and Pricing
It’s a crowded one, this affordable large sedan segment. But Toyota delivers four well-priced trims. The Avalon XL starts things off at $27,325, while the Touring ($29,575), XLS ($31,625) and Limited ($34,665) follow close behind. Competitors include the $23,635 Ford Taurus
, $25,150 Chrysler 300
, $28,630 Nissan Maxima
, $27,275 Buick Lucerne
and $25,495 Kia Amanti
What We Think
The Avalon has it all, if large four-door sedans are what you’re in the market for. Luxurious trimmings make your drive more comfortable. A well-balanced drive makes the Avalon more fun than your average V-6. There’s room for five people and all their belongings, and its moderate price doesn’t reflect on just how much the Avalon has to offer.