To be honest with you, I’ve always thought of the Toyota Avalon as your grandmother’s car. A co-worker once bought one and I remember thinking she was a little young to join that club.
Having spent a week with the 2015 Toyota Avalon, I’m changing my tune. Instead of thinking Sun City, I’m going to think of the Avalon as a value option to the Lexus ES 350. After all, they’re essentially the same car. They’re built on the same chassis and they have basically the same 268 horsepower V6 3.5-liter powerplant. Both cars get 21 MPG in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 24 MPG. That’s exactly what I got during my week with the Avalon.
Interestingly, both cars share the same platform with the Toyota Camry, but they take it in new directions. The Avalon is slightly larger than the Lexus in most of its exterior dimensions, but the Lexus has just a skosh more room throughout the interior. It’s not a huge amount and most people won’t likely notice.
Their styling is different, but not in a huge way. The Lexus has a more prominent and bolder grill, although the Avalon’s is hardly tiny. The Lexus styling has a sportier edge, while the Avalon is subtle. Honestly, most people probably won’t notice a huge difference if they get passed by one on the freeway.
The Lexus has the edge inside, but once again, not by a huge margin. The Avalon interior is both comfortable and upscale. It has three video displays so you won’t feel lacking in technology department. About the only thing the Avalon doesn’t have is an analog clock on the dash, which for some reason seems to be the required sign that you’ve entered the luxury range. Of course, the Lexus has one.
Toyota is making some subtle changes for the Avalon in 2016. While they’re nice improvements, they won’t be radical and most people won’t notice the difference. I say that to make the point that you probably won’t miss out by getting a year-end deal on a 2015 model.
My test car was the Avalon Limited with a base price 39,980. It had the technology package that includes dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system and Qi wireless charging. Qi charging allows you to charge you phone by placing it on a pad rather than plugging it in. Your phone has to have similar technology or it won’t work. Final price for my test car was $41,895.
Ultimately, that’s where the Avalon wins out. It has a lower starting price, and fully loaded will cost you less than the Lexus. You won’t get Lexus bragging rights, but you will have a car that most folks will never realize is a Toyota until they look at the logo.
So yes, your grandmother might buy one. And then she might go zip-lining in the jungle on the adventure vacation she paid for with the money she saved by not buying the Lexus.