1996 Toyota Avalon XLS
1996 Toyota Avalon XLS

By Bob McHugh

If you’re a baby-boomer like me, “Avalon” may bring to mind the mellow tones of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, however “Avalon” the car is made by Toyota and it’s an extremely nice car.

The idea was simple and a good one – build a bigger and better version of Toyota’s top selling and award-winning import sedan the Camry, specifically for the North American market. The luxurious Toyota Avalon was born in the USA and built in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Toyota started by stretching the wheelbase of the Camry platform by an extra 10 cm. This allowed more room in the passenger compartment, especially in the rear. Overall Avalon is just 5 cm longer and weighs in an extra 35 kg heavier than the Camry V6.

The 1995 Avalon LX was the first Toyota to offer a three-position front bench seat in a passenger car, which gave it a maximum seating capacity of six. The higher trim level is XLS and its list of additional standard equipment includes keyless entry, an anti-theft system, ABS, alloy wheels and climate control air conditioning.

A dual-link fully independent rear suspension is the main contributor to its firm but well cushioned ride. Its speed sensitive rack and pinion steering has a quicker steering gear ratio (15.9 vs. 17.4) than Camry. The brakes are a 4-wheel disc setup and an ABS (anti-lock braking system) was optional on XL and standard on the XLS.

Under the hood lies a slightly modified version of the super-smooth 3-litre DOHC (double overhead camshaft), 4-valves per cylinder V6 Camry engine. It produces an extra 4 horsepower (192 @ 5200 rpm) due to a higher compression ratio (10.5:1) and improvements to the exhaust and intake systems.

A 4-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission is standard. Fuel consumption is rated at 11.8 L/100 km in the city and 7.6 L/100 km on the highway. This is on regular fuel, surprising when you consider the engine’s high compression ratio.

Changes over the years include the addition of ABS with XL trim in ’96. Heated outside mirrors, an increase in engine power to 200 h.p. (due to a special exhaust muffler with a by-pass valve) and traction control as a new option, all in ’97. A front and rear got a minor re-style in ’98, the front bench seat became separate buckets on the XL and the XLS got fog lamps and a CD player.

Just one recall and it’s an unusual one. During extremely low operating temperatures and infrequent brake operation, moisture can freeze in the brake booster vacuum hose. Over time, the ice may eventually plug the hose, limiting the brake power assist system and increasing the stopping distance. Only 1997 Avalon models are affected and the brake vacuum hose should be replaced with a newly configured version.

Like the tune, Avalon the car gives a smooth-as-silk performance that’s rich and full-bodied. At about half its original price, a good used ’95 Toyota Avalon offers the car buyer an interesting luxury car alternative to a new economy car, especially when you consider the expected Toyota dependability bonus.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

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