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The Avalon is decidedly no longer boring, either to drive or to look at. It takes its large-car status and owns it with flowing sheet metal and a rich interior, both of which seem like they could come from cars costing much more. For 2016, Toyota makes some minor changes to the appearance to keep the attractive design fresh.
Penned entirely in California, and finished and developed in Michigan, the latest Avalon was conceived with American tastes in mind—especially older-middle-age empty-nesters. "Elegant Athletic" is Toyota's way of describing the look of the exterior, and it's an appropriate phrase. Overall this design is a brisk lane-change—a big enough departure from the previous model that it almost warrants a new badge. It's not an Audi A7—one of the most beautiful models on the market to our eyes—but there's no Camry vapor trail left in these handsome lines.
The standard Avalon powertrain is Toyota's familiar 3.5-liter V-6, putting out 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. The included 6-speed automatic offers a sport-shift mode, and incorporates throttle blipping for smoother downshifts. As of 2015, all V-6 models get paddle-shift controls, as well as Eco, Normal, and Sport driving modes that adjust steering, throttle, and shift feel. The V-6 versions hit 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds.
The cabin can easily fit four large/tall adults, and feels much more modern and luxurious than that of the car it replaced. Top-notch materials, thoughtful details, comfortable seats, and futuristic capacitive dash controls abound in the Avalon, and throughout there's really nothing to keep you from thinking that this is a luxury vehicle—nothing but the badge, that is. Up close, cabin materials are superb, and also a full league above those in the Camry. The dash and upper door trim are covered in soft-touch material, and the grains actually match throughout the area in the driver's sight.
The back seats in the latest Avalon are among the best of any large sedan. They're contoured well for adults and have relatively long lower cushions to provide thigh support. There's not only plenty of leg room but also head room. Our editor, who is 6-feet-6-inches tall, could effectively fit behind another person his same height, with the front seat back all the way. You'll need to tuck your feet and duck your head a little bit when getting in and out, but with today's swoopy rooflines, that's the norm.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.