Redesigned for 2000, the Avalon is wider and taller with a roomier interior and trunk. The standard 3.0 litre V6 engine has 10 more horsepower and new variable valve timing, while both the standard 4-speed automatic transmission and rear suspension have been revised. XL models start at $37,025 and XLS models at $44,230.
Redesigned Avalon is roomier, quieter
Toyota’s biggest car, the Avalon, was first introduced in 1995, ‘freshened’ in 1998, and completely redesigned for 2000. Originally it was based on a stretched Toyota Camry platform, but this year’s Avalon platform is substantially different.
Though the 2000 Avalon is about the same length and has the same wheelbase as the previous model, it is 25 mm (1 in.) wider, and 25 mm (1 in.) taller. In addition, the Avalon’s instrument panel was moved ahead by 102 mm (4 in.) and the rear seat was moved back by 12 mm (0.5 in.). The net effect is a very spacious interior – as big as a full-size North American automobile even though the Avalon’s exterior can still be classified as mid-size.
New Styling, Inside and Out
The Avalon’s exterior styling is all-new – there are virtually no cosmetic features carried over from the previous model. In effect, this gives the Avalon a complete new identity. The 2000 Avalon’s extra width and height and its higher tail give the car a more substantial presence than the previous model. Distinctive new features include the unique headlamps, vertical grille bars rather than horizontal ones, a steeper windshield, a ‘heavier’ tail, and large tailights.
The inside, too is all-new. The dash has been moved well forwards, and consists of a black panel which sweeps in a gentle arc from the driver’s side to the passenger side. Behind the panel are new, easy-to-see backlit electroluminescent round gauges, odometer, trip meter, clock and outside temperature display.
The purpose of moving the dash forwards, according to Toyota’s press literature, was to increase the perception of space, and to “make it easier and safer to look back and forth between the speedometer and the road.”
A new centre console juts out from the dash, and flows down between the front seats. Controls for the standard AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo and climate control are well-marked with large letters and easy to use buttons and dials, and the whole centre panel is trimmed with lacquered wood.
Also new for 2000 is an overhead console with storage for sunglasses, and two map lights.
The Avalon’s wider cabin adds 24 mm (1 in.) of shoulder room for front passengers, and the taller roof allowed Toyota’s designers to raise the seats by about 25 mm (1 in.). This was done for two reasons: to improve the driver’s visibility and to make it easier for driver and passengers to enter and exit the car.
Back seat passengers also have an extra 25 mm (1 in.) of shoulder room and 12 mm (0.5 in.) more legroom. The front seats are raised off the floor, providing generous footroom under the seats for rear passengers.
For greater crash safety, side airbags for front passengers are now standard in all Avalons. A new centre rear head restraint has been added, bringing the number of height-adjustable head restraints to five.
The Avalon’s trunk is seven percent bigger than last year – now almost 16 cubic feet. The opening was enlarged and the lift-over height was lowered by about 25 mm (1 in.) to make loading easier. The trunk includes a cargo net, storage tray, and two grocery bag hooks. A pass-through behind the rear centre, folding armrest helps store skis and other long, skinny objects, but a fold-down rear seat is not offered.
Smooth, Quiet Performance
The new Avalon is quieter and has a smoother ride than the previous model – that’s really saying something because the ’99 Avalon was a very quiet car.
The drag coefficient was reduced from 0.31 to 0.28, cutting down on wind noise. This is quite an accomplishment when you consider that the 2000 Avalon is wider and taller.
In addition, the car’s door sealing system was redesigned to prevent air leaks, doors were made stiffer, side glass was made thicker, and a lot of new sounproofing was added. Also, a new type of underbody foam was added to prevent ‘stone pecking noises’.
The standard 3.0 litre DOHC 24 valve V6 engine with 210 horsepower (up from 200 horsepower), now has VVT-I (variable valve timing with intelligence) and improved engine breathing which which makes it smoother and quieter than before. The standard 4-speed automatic transmission has been revised, and the electronically-controlled engine mounts neutralize engine vibrations.
During my test-drive, I found the 2000 Avalon to be a very easy, comfortable car to drive. It feels bigger than the previous model (which it is), but its stiffer body and revised independent rear dual-link suspension kept the handling reasonably crisp and predictable. The variable-assist steering is light at slower speeds, and the Avalon’s ride is fairly soft, though it’s certainly not a boat.
Performance has been enhanced by the engine’s new variable valve timing system which continuously adjusts the air intake into the cylinders for optimum horsepower, torque and fuel-efficiency. The 2000 Avalon also has re-tuned intake and exhaust runners which have increased torque particularly under low speed and mid-range conditions.
Fuel consumption is quite good for a car that weighs 1570 kg (3461 lb.). City mileage is 11.2 litres per 100 kilometres (25 mpg), and highway consumption is 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres (38 mpg).
2000 Avalon’s include standard four wheel disc brakes with ABS, and a new vehicle skid control system, traction control, and electronic brake distribution. These safety features help avoid loss of control on slippery surfaces, enhance traction, and improve emergency braking response. The VSC system is designed so that the driver does not sense any abnormal operation.
Two Trim Levels : XL and XLS
2000 Avalon XL models start at $37,025, up from a base price of $36,595 when it was introduced in October of 1999, and up from its 1999 price of $35,895. The increase from 1999 is reasonable when you consider that side airbags and an anti-skid system are now standard.
Standard equipment on XL models includes the 3.0 litre V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission, 15 inch tires and alloy wheels, 5-passenger seating with fabric upholstery, dual-zone manual temperature control for the heating and air conditioning system, 4-way power driver and passenger front seats, and AM/FM/CD/cassette with six speakers.
Also standard are tachometer, clock, and outside temperature gauge, remote keyless entry and power door locks, power windows with driver’s auto-down and auto-up, power heated outside mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, front armrest with storage, rear armrest with trunk pass-through, and front and rear cupholders.
Top-of-the-line Avalon XLS models start at $44,230, up from $42,800 in October of 1999, and up from $42,805 for last year’s model.
To the XL’s standard features, the XLS adds leather upholstery, power glass moonroof with tilt feature and sliding sunshade, automatic dual zone climate control, heated front seats, memory functions on the front power seats, automatic dimming rearview mirror, premium stereo with 175 watt amplifier, seven speakers and 6-disc in-dash CD changer, trip computer, compass and calendar, and larger 16 inch tires and alloy wheels.
Both XL and XLS models include these standard safety features : dual front airbags and dual side airbags, five three-point seatbelts and five height-adjustable head restraints, front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, rear child seat tether anchor points, anti-theft system with immobilizer, disc brakes and anti-lock braking system, Vehicle Skid Control.
First Full-Size Family Car
According to Toyota’s media information, the Avalon is Toyota’s interpretation of the American full-size family sedan, six-passenger sedans like the Buick LeSabre, Pontiac Bonneville, Chevrolet Impala, and Chrysler LHS. The Avalon is not quite as big on the outside as these cars, and seats five passengers not six, but it offers the interior room, ride, and comfort of these cars with the added benefit of Toyota reliability, quality, and extremely low levels of noise and vibration.
Plus it comes with Toyota’s standard five year/100,000 kilometre powertrain warranty.
Avalons are built in Georgetown, Kentucky in the same plant as the Toyota Camry.