2015 Toyota Avalon

Starting MSRP: $32,285 - $39,980

Estimated MPG: 21 city / 31 hwy

2015 Toyota Avalon Review

The 2015 Toyota Avalon offers a composed driving experience and a number of standard features.

By Michael Strong
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The fourth-generation Avalon is Toyota's version of a less expensive Lexus ES 350, which it shares a platform with. The 2015 Avalon is loaded with technology and provides a solid to excellent driving experience, depending upon what aspect of the vehicle you are judging. It's almost the forgotten child in the automaker's lineup due to the sales of Toyota's two top sellers: the 2015 Camry, which is nearly the same size, and the compact Toyota Corolla.

Exterior

Exterior
7

Toyota has been trying to push the styling envelope more with its new Corolla, and promises to update more of its models. While next year's model will gain updated styling, the 2015 Avalon still looks fine.

The Avalon's exterior is a low, aerodynamic design that was best described as "slippery" by one person who was giving it a once-over. "Smooth" and "quiet" are also apt descriptions for the sedan. It's not a showstopper, but it's just a really nice, clean looking car.

Interior

Interior
7

The interior is much like the exterior ... it's nice. That said, for many years, Toyota interiors have made vanilla seem like a rare spice used in Thai food. One nice upgrade is the power moonroof that operates at the touch of a button. No fussing around with multiple button presses until it's all the way open or where you want it. The car's power windows are also of the one-touch variety.

Seating in the Avalon is comfortable for five adults, or as I can attest: four adults and a 12-pound dog.

The front seats were very comfortable and provided ample support. I took a couple of drives that were more than two hours long and the Avalon never failed to feel completely comfortable behind the wheel. The front seats were heated and featured controls that offered users a lot of leeway in just how much heat they were feeling.

The rear-seat passengers enjoy plenty of legroom and headroom, which is just as important as the comfort level of seats themselves. There's also a convenient pass-through opening from the back seat to the trunk.

Additionally, getting in and out of the Avalon doesn't require advanced knowledge of yoga. The aforementioned trunk is stunningly spacious. It can hold several overnight bags as well as two sets of golf clubs. Or in my case, eight bags of top soil.

The dashboard is simple, but elegant. The controls for everything from the turn signals to the radio knobs and climate controls are within easy reach and the gauges are easy to read.

Performance

Performance
9

The 2015 Avalon comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. While it provides nice get-up-and-go from a stop, the engine really shines when cruising on the freeway. It moves from highway speed to the upper end of its power band with almost no effort. It does all this while averaging 24 miles to the gallon, getting 21 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway.

The Avalon also features paddle shifters for those moments when you feel like Mario Andretti, as well as Econ, Normal and Sport drive modes to change the car's performance dynamics. 

I didn't notice a substantive difference in performance when the Avalon wasn't in Normal mode. I did enjoy the racing-inspired paddle shifters, but I wouldn't want to drive with them all of the time. In general, I thought the Avalon's performance in Normal was very good and rarely found any reason to change it.

Technology

Technology
8

The 2015 Toyota Avalon comes with standard features that include a rearview camera, proximity key with push-button start, satellite radio, HD Radio, a USB port, Bluetooth and an Entune audio system with a 6.1-inch touch screen. Available features include a JBL audio system and an upgraded Entune system with a 7-inch touch screen, navigation and smartphone app integration.

When it comes to keeping passengers entertained, the Avalon's Entune infotainment system is an impressive option. Tied to a 7-inch touch screen it features a collection of apps that allows you to stream music, buy movie tickets and check nearby fuel prices.

It can be tied to a smartphone by downloading the Entune app, which allows for further customization of the apps that are available. The Avalon's navigation system is excellent and even provides real-time traffic updates that proved to be very useful as I was racing to a soccer game.

One major disappointment: the car's USB port will not charge a smartphone. Honestly, I didn't think any automaker had a vehicle that wouldn't charge a device using the UBS connection, but a drive in another Toyota (the Sienna minivan) confirmed the problem. In an era where folks are more connected than ever, not being able to charge and use a phone at the same time seems like a major shortcoming.

Safety

Safety
8

The 2015 Avalon earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), thanks to its top scores of Good in all IIHS crash tests. Additionally, the Avalon received five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its overall performance in crash tests, with five stars in side impact tests and four stars for frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Avalon comes standard with a rearview camera and has front and rear head curtain air bags, front and rear seat-mounted torso air bags, and driver and front passenger knee air bags.

Available driver assistance features include blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
7

The Avalon starts with an MSRP of $32,285 for the XLE model and it goes up from there. There are five different versions of the Avalon: XLE, XLE Premium, XLE Touring, XLE Touring Sport and XLE Limited. There's also an Avalon hybrid. The top Avalon XLE Limited starts at $39,980.

The Avalon competes against a variety of vehicles ranging from the 2015 Buick LaCrosse to the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord. Its starting price is in the middle of the group and depending upon how each one is equipped, it pretty much ends in the middle as well.

Our test model's MSRP was $37,130, including an $825 destination fee. When you look at the performance and fuel economy, the Avalon is a better than average value for the segment.

Overall

Overall
8

The 2015 Toyota Avalon is a strong performer in a segment where expectations are high and the competition is fierce. If you're looking for something with flashy interior and exterior styling, the Avalon is probably not your choice, but if smart and dapper with outstanding performance is what you want, it has to be near the top of the list.