All-new in 2005, the Toyota Avalon remains unchanged for 2006, including its price.

The Avalon is offered in Touring or XLS models, both powered by a 3.5-litre V6 that attaches to a five-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual mode.

The Touring model features automatic climate control, six-CD system with nine speakers and wheel-mounted controls, heated leather seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, four-way power passenger seat, power locks with shifter activation, power windows with auto up/down in front, Optitron electronic gauges, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic wheel, cruise control, driver’s knee airbag, 17-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, power mirrors, fog lamps and high-energy discharge headlamps with auto-leveling system.

The XLS model adds auto-dimming rearview mirror, woodgrain trim, integrated garage door opener, heated mirrors and halogen headlamps. In an unusual marketing move, Toyota tags the XLS with a starting price under that of the Touring model, but offers two optional, high-end packages that can only be added to the XLS. One adds stability and traction control, brake assist, a full-size spare on an alloy wheel, premium stereo and wood-and-leather wrapped wheel, while the other includes all of those features plus a DVD-based navigation system. The packages bring the XLS to $43,475 and $46,825, respectively.

The Avalon is luxury with Toyota’s reputation: doors are bank-vault solid, operation is whisper-quiet, and there’s considerable room inside. Its understated styling means it doesn’t make a huge splash on the streets, but once you’re behind the wheel, it doesn’t really matter. This is Lexus quality at a Toyota price.

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