Model tested: 2021 Toyota Avalon Limited AWD
Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed, electronically controlled automatic
Torque: 185 lb.-ft.
EPA rating: 25/city, 34/highway, 28/combined
Base price: $42,175
As tested: $44,725
Overview: The Avalon is Toyota’s top-of-the-line luxury sedan. It’s a refined highway cruiser with a highly composed ride that could be considered a budget Lexus ES. It features five basic models — XLE, XSE, Touring, Limited and TRD. The XLE, XSE and Limited have hybrid powertrains available. Our test driver was the nonhybrid Limited AWD drive model, and this review will focus on that vehicle only.
Walkaround: The Avalon is refined, with a cohesive, clean look. It features a tall, gloss-black grille, with a sport mesh insert and active grille shutter. The tapered roofline smoothly flows down into rounded fenders, where LED reflector headlights with smoked chrome bezels, 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, slim LED taillights and twin chrome-tipped exhausts complete the look.
Interior: The Avalon comfortably seats five in its roomy, high-quality interior. Both the materials and the fit and finish resemble those found in more expensive cars. Our Limited test driver featured wood trim, along with real leather, heated and cooled, eight-way power front seats. With good bolstering for curvy roads, and 40 inches of legroom, the front seats and ultraquiet ride make road trips pleasurable. A 9-inch, portrait-style touchscreen that controls audio, climate and vehicle settings, with redundant controls on the heated steering wheel, give the cabin its modern look. Other features include wireless phone charging, head-up display, 14 premium JBL speakers with amplifier and subwoofer, four USB charging ports, satellite radio and standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The rear bench easily seats three adults and folds down to open into the 16-cubic-foot trunk, creating a ton of cargo space.
Behind the Wheel: The Avalon comes in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive versions. The 2.5-liter four-banger, married to an eight-speed automatic, powered our AWD Limited quite efficiently — with pleasantly surprising acceleration. All versions of the Avalon sport a strut, front and rear, multilink suspension that delivers a smooth, composed and comfortable ride. There are three drive modes — eco, comfort and sport. Holding an easy 70-plus mph on the freeway is no problem.
Bottom Line: The 2021 Toyota Avalon is basically an upscale highway cruiser that is comfortable, quiet and well-mannered. It’s also a value that rivals its sibling Lexus ES.