2003 Toyota Avalon
2003 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

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2003 Toyota Avalon by Tony Whitney
2000 Toyota Avalon by Greg Wilson

Manufacturer’s web site

Toyota Canada

By Chris Chase

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Toyota Avalon, 2000-2004

The second-generation Toyota Avalon, the company’s biggest and most luxuriously equipped passenger car, debuted for the 2000 model year. Despite all-new styling, it was largely an evolution of the first-gen car, with similar exterior dimensions but a larger and more sophisticated interior.

At the start, the second-gen Avalon used a 3.0-litre V6 shared with the Toyota Camry, among other Toyota models. Output was 210 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque, and a four-speed automatic was the sole transmission choice. Virtually nothing under the hood would change between 2000 and this generation’s last year, 2004.

2003 Toyota Avalon
2003 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption was a strong point, with the Avalon earning NRCan ratings of 11.2 L/100 km (city) and 7.4 L/100 km (highway) in 2000. By 2004, the Avalon’s city rating had improved to 11 L/100 km.

Indications point toward this being the most solid Avalon of the three generations.

This thread at ToyotaNation.com discusses an idle problem with the 3.0-litre engine that seems to be linked to a gunked-up idle air control motor. Note that within that thread is a link to a post at a Lexus forum detailing how to troubleshoot this problem in the engine.

Highs: Good reliability, nice interior
Lows: Iffy exterior styling

That idle control motor can also cause a no-start situation in the 3.0-litre V6.

Here’s a thread about flickering headlights and interior lights, though no one seems to have a solution.

The second-gen Avalon received a “good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) thanks to a good performance in that organization’s frontal offset crash test.

2003 Toyota Avalon
2003 Toyota Avalon. Click image to enlarge

A 2001 Avalon got three stars for driver protection and five for front passenger protection in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s frontal crash test, and four and five stars respectively in the NHTSA’s side impact test.

Just as you’d expect, the Avalon holds its value very well on the used market; Canadian Red Book values range from $8,750 for a 2000 XL to $16,875 for a 2004 XLS. It’s worth noting, though, that the 2004 model looks like a good value compared to a third-gen 2005: despite a significant price drop (roughly $4,000 to $6,000 depending on the model) for the redesigned car, the 2005 is worth at least $6,000 more than the 2004 version.

Keep in mind, too, that a Lexus ES from the same model year is worth roughly $3,000 more than an Avalon – something to consider, seeing as the cars have a lot in common mechanically.

Online resources

ToyotaNation.com is my favourite Toyota web portal; it has a decently busy Avalon discussion section. Like the other car forums at truck-friendly TundraSolutions.com, the Avalon section is quiet; and apparently, there aren’t many Avalon fans at ToyotaFans.net.

Related stories on Autos
  • 2003 Toyota Avalon by Tony Whitney
  • 2000 Toyota Avalon by Greg Wilson

    Manufacturer’s Website
  • Toyota Canada


    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000136; Units affected: 51 (also affects Camry Solara)
    2000: On certain vehicles, improper heat treatment during assembly could result in inadequate strength in certain areas of the rear axle shafts. After extended use of the vehicle, the rear axle shafts may fail or break. This could result in rear wheel separation and a possible crash without prior warning. Correction: Rear axle hub will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    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.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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