October 6, 2011
2005 Toyota Avalon XLS; photo by Bob McHugh. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Chris Chase
Before Lexus came along, the most luxurious vehicle Toyota built was the Cressida, a rear-drive, six-cylinder sedan that was positioned upscale of the family-focused Camry. It stuck around until 1992, three years after Toyota introduced its dedicated luxury brand (Lexus). When the Cressida was discontinued, it was easy to assume that meant the end of Toyota’s high-end aspirations for its base brand.
In 1995 however, Toyota introduced the Avalon, a spiritual successor to the Cressida, and a car that has often overlapped Lexus, being larger and at times more expensive than cars like the Lexus ES and IS.
Despite relatively slow sales, historically, Toyota sees the Avalon filling a niche in its portfolio, which is why it’s now into its fourth generation as a 2011 model. Let’s go back a few years, though, and take a look at the third generation model and how it’s held up as a used vehicle choice.
2007 Toyota Avalon XLS; photo by Bob McHugh. Click image to enlarge
The third generation Avalon went on sale in 2005, sporting the model’s most distinctive styling and largest interior yet. Based on the Camry, this latest Avalon was powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine that was offered in the Camry the following year and would become a staple of Toyota’s and Lexus’ lineups. Power ratings were 280 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. These figures would drop to 268 hp/248 lb.-ft. in 2006, due to changes in how the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) measured engine power; the change didn’t affect the engine’s performance.
From 2005 through 2007, a five-speed automatic was the only transmission offered; in 2008, in conjunction with a mid-cycle refresh, it was upgraded to a six-speed.
Fuel consumption was rated at 11.0/7.3 L/100 km (city/highway) in 2005; it dropped to 10.6/7.0 in 2007 (before the addition of the six-speed transmission) and stayed there for the rest of the third-generation’s model run.
The Avalon has proven largely reliable, but like many other recent Toyota models, it suffers from a few uncharacteristic flaws that are worth keeping an eye on.
2005 Toyota Avalon XLS; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge
The most serious of these is a well-documented problem with an oil line that supplies oil to the engine’s variable valve timing system. The tube can leak oil, which is undesirable in itself, but it has been known to simply rupture, which can cause catastrophic engine problems. Click here for info on the topic at a Toyota Sienna web forum (Siennas from 2007 on use the same V6 engine as the Avalon), or here for a thread on the issue at ToyotaNation.com and go here to see a short video clip of the leak in action on a 2007 Avalon engine.
In 2008, a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) was issued regarding a steering column intermediate shaft that wore prematurely, resulting in a noise (clunk/pop/squeak or all of the above) and poor steering feel. This thread at ToyotaNation.com has information on the fix, including a link to the TSB, which details how to effect the repair.
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