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Manufacturer’s Website
Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Michel Deslauriers

Photo Gallery:
2013 Toyota Avalon Limited

Since its introduction in 1995, the Toyota Avalon has been synonymous with bland styling, a marshmallow ride and a general lack of driving excitement. The 2013 Avalon breaks from tradition, totally redesigned and seeking to attract a younger clientele with inspiring sheet metal, a well-appointed interior and new onboard technology.

Who buys an Avalon anyway? No need asking Toyota for statistics, as I firmly believe older folks, who mostly prefer soft suspension settings, a sober appearance and plenty of elbow room, are more partial to the car than younger people. On those accounts, the Avalon scored.

However, as Toyota is trying hard to lower the average age of their clientele, the 2013 Avalon received modern yet elegant styling to please a wider audience. Personally, I think it works.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives
2013 Toyota Avalon Limited. Click image to enlarge

While not as striking as some other large sedans like the Ford Taurus, the Dodge Charger, the Chrysler 300 and the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the Avalon follows the current fashion trends with a creased hood, a wide-mouthed lower-body grille, LED daytime running lights and a steeply raked rear window. The result is a car that is elegant and classy, yet has an edgy, modern appearance that more age groups can appreciate.

Two trim levels, XLE and Limited, are available in Canada. Both benefit from 18-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, power-adjustable and heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, a smart key system, fog lamps and dual exhaust outlets. The Limited is the subject of this test, which also gets mirror-mounted puddle lamps, rain-sensing wipers, HID headlights and the aforementioned LED lighting technology.

Like its exterior, the 2013 Toyota Avalon’s cockpit features a mix of modern and old-school styling. The woodgrain trim on the dash and the chrome trim surrounding the centre stack and air vents give the Avalon a retro touch, while a new climate control interface houses touch-sensitive buttons; the type we’re seeing more and more of in Ford and GM products.

Those buttons respond fairly well to finger poking, even with gloves on. However, rotary knobs for setting the temperature are still the easiest to operate while driving, and this novelty in the Avalon might not please everyone.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives
2013 Toyota Avalon Limited. Click image to enlarge

The sound system does get volume and tuning knobs, though, in addition to the standard nine-speaker system, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, a USB port and satellite radio.

Our test car was equipped with the Premium Package, which adds an 11-speaker JBL stereo, rear-seat climate controls, heated rear seats and a power rear window sunshade. The sound quality is very good, and the wheel-mounted controls are well laid out. On the other hand, the display could be bigger; you can get an 8.4-inch touchscreen in Chrysler products, for example.

Interior space is quite generous in the Toyota, which isn’t really a surprise considering its outer dimensions. One noteworthy aspect is the amount of rear-seat legroom, which allows passengers to stretch out their legs and be more comfortable. Up front, the seats could use a little extra lateral support, but otherwise they’re nicely accommodating.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited toyota car test drives
2013 Toyota Avalon Limited. Click image to enlarge

One sole engine is offered in the 2013 Toyota Avalon; in Canada, that is. The company’s familiar 24-valve, 3.5L V6 is on duty here, producing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, and it’s connected to a six-speed automatic with – hold on to your prune juice – paddle shifters. Yes, you read right; wheel-mounted shift paddles in an Avalon.

And they work well, serving up quick upshifts and downshifts. However, this isn’t a sport sedan and doesn’t try to pass as one. Yet the car is more dynamic and engaging then ever before, and that’s because Toyota blessed it with variable-assist steering that provides better response and a greater feel of the road. In addition, the suspension strikes a nice balance of ride comfort and sportiness, obviously emphasizing comfort.