2013 Toyota Avalon
2013 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2013 Toyota Avalon

New York, NY – The media teaser for the 2012 New York International Auto Show, issued by Toyota on March 27, mentioned only the debut of an “all-new
North American–designed sedan.”

And when the all-new North American–designed sedan emerged on the stage in the Galleria Room of the Jacob Javits Center, looking remarkably like an Avalon, the spokesman mentioned only the superlatives — dynamic exterior styling, a modern, spacious, premium interior — that described why we should like this Avalon-like sedan.

Only as the press conference drew to a close did Toyota reveal the name of this “progressive and emotionally styled” sedan — Avalon — like a bad whodunit whose surprise ending is no surprise at all.

And with its return, its fourth complete redo since 1995, Toyota failed to solve the real mystery of this car – why build it at all? (Because someone’s gotta build cars for grandpa, now that Buick and Cadillac are more interested in competing with Germany’s best. –Ed)

Stuck at the top of the Toyota food chain, the Avalon has struggled against the much less expensive Camry EXL and a price just $1000 less than the Lexus ES 350. Toyota hopes the new Avalon will attract more buyers to a luxury Toyota. But why bother? If you were moving up from a Camry EXL, why not spend the extra change and get a Lexus?

2013 Toyota Avalon
2013 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

While I remain skeptical, at least until we get the opportunity to test the 2013 Avalon, the new flagship sedan looks impressive on stage and on paper.

Compared to its predecessor, the new Avalon is a bit more compact yet it has good proportions with its lower height, longer, sloping roofline, flared front fenders, reduced front and rear overhangs, and reduced body-to-tire gap. Key exterior design elements include the square double-eye PES (Projector Ellipsoid System) headlamps with HID (High-Intensity Discharge) and elegant DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) and a wider, more assertive grille design. At the rear, high-performance LED combination tail lamps integrate with the revised rear-body styling. 

The svelte, more modern body aside, the new Avalon promises to deliver a combination of “improved dynamic performance, a greater degree of refinement and a highly spacious, comfortable interior experience with an abundance of outstanding convenience technologies.”

The Avalon’s spacious interior includes abundant rear seat legroom and a larger trunk than previous despite a shorter overall length and shorter front and rear overhangs.

The front seat’s hip point has been lowered by 10 mm (0.4 inches) to help create improved headroom.  In addition, the structural components of the sunroof and the headliner design have been optimized to help increase the cabin’s roominess.  A concave dash panel design, located in front of the passenger, helps create an expansive feeling.

2013 Toyota Avalon
2013 Toyota Avalon; photo courtesy Toyota. Click image to enlarge

The Avalon’s interior should be significantly quieter and more comfortable than the current Avalon.  Sound absorbing materials have been strategically placed around the cabin and body structure without increasing overall weight.  The windshield and front-side glass panels utilize acoustic glass that helps control sound intrusion into the cabin. And by optimizing the exterior shape and improving cowl and louvre sealing, outer mirror shape and position, and wiper-blade position and minimizing exterior gaps, wind noise should be significantly lower.

Looking for that handcrafted look, rich, supple leather trims the steering wheel, shift knob, and seat upholstery.  Smoked chrome-metallic accents highlight the instrument panel, centre console, door panel, and steering wheel surfaces.   The new Avalon’s console area is equipped with a USB port, AUX input terminal, three 12-volt power outlets, and a convenient console tray to facilitate locating, charging, and using devices.

2013 Toyota Avalon
2013 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

The new Avalon will offer some innovative technologies such as advanced capacitive touch switches and three colour display screens that support the multi-information display, the audio/navigation interface, and the climate control panel.  

That Toyota has decided to give the Avalon a new lease on life is both a surprise and a mystery. I might have expected an “all-new North American sedan” placed somewhere between the Corolla and Camry, certainly a gap that Toyota needs to fill, but a better mid-sized sedan that will continue to steal sales from Camry and the Lexus ES was unexpected.

Designed in Toyota’s North American design facilities in southern California and Ann Arbour, Michigan, the 2013 Toyota Avalon will be built in Georgetown, Kentucky exclusively for the North American market. It goes on sale in late 2012.

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