Thursday, April 4, 2013

Latest-generation Avalon a wondrous ride

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – I put the new, third-generation 2013 Toyota Avalon sedan through its paces in the San Francisco Bay Area and up and down the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country.

And really, what better places to show off this peak of Toyota elegance?

On these roads, you get the full challenge – sometimes mind-bending gridlock, sweeping stretches of interstate that let you fully unwind the machine and twisty, tight stretches of two-lane ribbon brushing by classy wine castles, where this Toyota looks entirely at home.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: The Toyota Avalon is a luxury laden Lexus sedan wearing Toyota badging.  My tester proved the point to the max: the 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited is the cream of four trim levels.

And be advised: It’s priced that way, starting at $39,650.  Mine was dressed up with a technology package (radar cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights and a pre-collision protection system) that kicked up the bottom line to $42,195.

Yes, that’s truly Lexus-like.  But if you can afford it, the Avalon is worth it.

Frankly, I can’t imagine buying this car with the idea of selling it within five years.  For my money, it’s a 10-year keeper.

Sheet metal this time around is more sporty and fluid.  The roofline seems to go on forever, providing an aerodynamic, athletic look in profile.  The front end is saucy, yet elegant.  The car looks like it belongs, no matter if it’s parked at the racetrack or the country club.

On the roll, the Avalon is super-silky smooth and quiet.  The 3.5-liter V-6 performs at a level way above the advertised 268 horsepower.  Soft hits on the accelerator produced instant response.  I could have sworn I had 300 horses in hand, not that much of that engine noise makes its way to the cockpit.  I felt like I could have hosted a tea service in the cabin and enjoyed even whispered conversations.

Safety, comfort and convenience features are numerous and precisely what you deserve in a luxury sedan with this price.  I confess that I don’t like the radar-controlled cruise system.  Too touchy for my tastes.  Thankfully, it’s easily negated via a manual override.

For me, I put a lot of miles on this test drive, and there’s good reason for that.  I didn’t want to part with the car.  This Avalon just might be the perfect road-trip sedan.

Sedan fans, put it on your test-drive list as a must-drive.  But be forewarned, Avalon’s charms likely will push you into a long-term relationship.

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