2013 Toyota Avalon is Fuel-Efficient, but Flawed

Although the 2013 Toyota Avalon has a lot to offer, its unreliable navigation system and sub-par interior may keep some prospective buyers away.

With a base sticker price of $30,990, the front-wheel drive Avalon is Toyota’s largest sedan. The base model comes with a 246-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.  There is also a 200-hp hybrid variant that sells for just over $35,000.

The fully-loaded V6 Avalon Limited model, with a sticker price of $41,645 excluding destination charges, features perforated leather upholstery, and Toyota’s Entune® infotainment package which offers Internet connectivity to iHeartRadio, Bing, Pandora, and more.

With an EPA estimated combined city / highway of 25 mpg, the V-6 Avalon is by far the most fuel efficient large family sedan in a segment which includes the Volkswagen Passat, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion and Taurus, Hyundai Azera, and Buick LaCrosse.

Although the Avalon’s V6 engine is less powerful than those offered by the competition, it delivers ample power for normal driving, and gear shifts are smooth.

Toyota has equipped the Avalon with Normal, Eco and Sport modes which can be manually selected with the push of a button. The Eco and Sport modes adjust the vehicle’s transmission and throttle response to deliver better fuel economy, or quicker acceleration, respectively.

The Avalon’s suspension is tuned to deliver a smooth ride and minimize body roll when cornering. Instrumentation is large and well laid out, but large gaps between some elements detract from the interior’s overall fit and finish.

The interior is spacious and provides ample leg and shoulder room for front and rear occupants and the 16-cubic-foot trunk offers ample cargo space.

EnTune® is Toyota’s answer to Chrysler’s Uconnect, Ford’s Touch and Chevrolet’s Intellilink technologies, and like those offering, it has its problems. Although the voice recognition interactivity works well, the system’s apps can be unreliable and can require frequent, time-consuming updates. And Entune® requires that you download and run its proprietary apps.

Ford has had similar problems and complaints about its Sync, MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems. In fact, these technologies were cited as primary reasons Ford and Lincoln performed so poorly in the Consumer Reports 2013 Car Brand Report Card study.

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