2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Bob McHugh

Photo Gallery: 2007 Toyota Avalon

Toyota’s biggest car, the Avalon, is a full-sized four-door sedan. It’s bigger than the more expensive Lexus ES 350, and it’s almost as big as a top-line Lexus LS460, which is more than double its price. The Avalon is a lot of Toyota for the money.

A conservatively styled, smooth and comfortable highway cruiser, the Avalon has been called a ‘Japanese Buick’ – a Toyota version of a traditional full-sized American sedan. In fact, the Avalon was born and bred in the U.S.A.: designed in the U.S. and built in a Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

The current Avalon was introduced for the 2005 model year. The ’07 model year Avalon really hasn’t changed very much. However, it has been reduced to a single trim version in Canada and it comes with upgraded standard equipment, a higher price and new option packages.

What’s new is the inclusion of both stability control and traction control as standard equipment. The base price has jumped up, from $40,150 last year, to $41,135. That’s probably a little more than the additions would justify, so there’s a small price increase too.

2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

The Avalon, quite frankly, looks a lot like the new Camry (actually, since it was out first, it’s the other way around). The overall body shape and the styling lines are the same, however, there are differences front and rear and the Avalon is bigger. Even compared to the previous generation Avalon, this car is significantly larger all-around. It is 13.5 cm (5.3 inches) longer, the wheelbase was stretched 10 cm (3.9 inches) and it’s wider and taller.

Sheer size gives the Avalon presence and it has style, in an unassuming way. The rear view is probably the most distinctive, the tall trunk deck, large tail lamps and dual exhaust pipes give it a posh touring sedan appearance.

2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge


Interior impressions

The American-ness of the Avalon is even more apparent when you move inside its truly spacious cabin. A sweeping dash that blends into the door panels, a foot-operated park brake and other controls should help make most domestic car buyers feel right at home.

My Avalon test vehicle, however, had a very un-Toyota-like door/dash panel misalignment (see photo). Although not a big deal, it does suggest that there’s still room for improvement from those ‘good old boys’ in Kentucky.
Not only is there almost limo-like legroom in the rear of Avalon, the 60/40 split rear seatback has the added comfort of a recline feature. The seatbacks, however, do not fold-forward to expand trunk capacity. Owners have to be content with a centre pass-through port, behind the fold-down centre armrest, for long items.

A multitude of door covers on the dash and console give the cabin an overall clean, uncluttered appearance. Hiding the audio controls behind a flip-up door is a classy touch and may even be enough to discourage an amateur audio thief.


Safety


2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

New standard active safety features include the already mentioned traction control and stability control systems. The Avalon already had a first-class passive safety protection package that includes an extra knee-bolster air bag below the steering wheel, on the driver’s side.

Crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the ’07 Avalon’s occupant protection performance as ‘good’ and second from best in its class, behind the Ford Five Hundred.

The extra room in the rear cabin plus the seatback recline feature make it easy to install a child seat. A unique feature on the outboard rear seats is an auxiliary guide for the shoulder belt. This guide slides out of a pocket on the seatback and helps position the belt better on a child or a smaller adult. It can’t be a big cost item and I would love to see this clever safety innovation on other vehicles.


Driving impressions

Quiet and smooth, yet surprisingly powerful and fuel-efficient, the 3.5-litre V6 is an impressive engine and a good match for the Avalon. There’s up to 280 horsepower on hand and it can effortlessly propel this big and fairly heavy (1,615 kg) car to 100 km/hour in less than seven seconds.

2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon
2007 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

Power is there when you need it, but speed is really not what an Avalon is about. It’s primarily a comfortable cruiser with a suspension that’s on the soft side and very forgiving. That said, it still possesses a composed well balanced feel on the road.

On the highway Avalon rides beautifully. The cabin is very quiet and its suspension does an excellent job of smoothing out road irregularities. The compromise is some body lean should you push it hard on a twisty section of road, but it’s progressive and manageable.

Around town you may have to pass on some narrow or short parking spots and the high rear deck doesn’t help when you’re backing into a tight stall. A light steering feel (at low engine speeds) and big side mirrors certainly help make the task easier.

The Avalon runs on regular gasoline and consumption is surprisingly light. Most of my driving was in the city, but according to NRCan’s EnerGuide, it offers 10.6/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway).


Verdict

Toyota’s “Grande”, the Avalon has both space and pace, yet it’s still a surprisingly frugal fuel user.


Pricing: 2007 Toyota Avalon


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Acura TL
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Buick Lucerne
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chrysler 300
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Five Hundred
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Hyundai Azera
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Kia Amanti


Crash test results


Manufacturer’s web site

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