2016 Toyota Avalon

Starting MSRP: $32,650 - $40,450

Estimated MPG: 21 city / 31 hwy

2016 Toyota Avalon Review

Midsize sedans may be the market's sales leaders, but the 2016 Toyota Avalon proves full-size models have a lot to offer certain types of car shoppers. Powered by a V6 or a hybrid powertrain, the Avalon cruises effortlessly, seats five adults comfortably and provides a fairly luxurious driving experience. With a mild mid-cycle refresh for 2016, this capable Toyota remains one of the better choices among full-size sedans.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 05/03/2016

Introduced for 2013, the current generation of the Avalon has already received accolades as a well-rounded full-size sedan that coddles its occupants in space and comfort. This sedan seats five, and both a V6 and a hybrid powertrain are available.

For 2016, stylish front-end upgrades keep the Avalon looking fresh. Also, the sedan now offers two suspension choices. Touring models get a suspension tuned to be sporty and responsive, while all other models are equipped with a suspension tuned for comfort. With the introduction of a two new trim levels (XLE Plus and Hybrid XLE Plus), Avalon customers now have a choice of the following trims: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring, Limited, Hybrid XLE Plus, Hybrid XLE Premium and Hybrid Limited. Last year's Touring Sport and Hybrid XLE Touring trims have been dropped.

Exterior

Exterior
9

The 2016 Avalon is big but not unwieldy. In the past, the Avalon's sheet metal has been somewhat conservative and sedate, but the current model boasts a sleek silhouette that makes it stand out among its competitors. For 2016, all Avalons get a new front grille. Touring models also get new LED headlights and LED daytime running lights.

Most Avalon models run on 17-inch wheels, but our test Avalon Touring and the V6-powered Limited run on 18-inch aluminum wheels. The Touring trim has these wheels in a dark-gray painted finish.

Interior

Interior
9

The Avalon features wide door openings that facilitate easy ingress and egress. If you have a bad back, arthritis, or just hate to have to hunch and stoop to enter a vehicle, this is the sedan for you.

This Toyota offers one of the most spacious cabins in its class, with lots of legroom for front and rear occupants. However, headroom is compromised a bit by its lower roofline, which can prove restrictive for taller passengers. This is especially true when the Avalon is equipped with the optional moonroof, since this feature lops almost a full inch off the car's headroom. Otherwise, front seats are accommodating and large, with power adjustments for height, rake, recline and lumbar. Rear seats are equally comfortable. All models feature leather upholstery, and Limited models get upgraded perforated leather trim.

For drivers, the Avalon has large dials for the speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges, with a smaller screen in the middle offering trip and vehicle information. The screen can be changed using a switch on the steering wheel, and the steering wheel also features redundant switches for the audio system and cruise control. The center stack is anchored by the infotainment system's touch screen, and this feature is bordered by soft-touch switches for climate and infotainment controls.

With 16 cubic feet of room available, the Avalon provides a very spacious trunk. However, other models in this segment offer even greater cargo capacity. With the 2016 Chevrolet Impala, you get a trunk with a capacity of 18.8 cubic feet, while the 2016 Ford Taurus boasts a trunk that swallows a whopping 20.1 cubic feet of cargo.

Performance

Performance
9

There are two engine choices in the Avalon lineup. Most models are powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that’s combined with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 delivers 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. This makes the Avalon one of the most fuel-efficient V6 sedans in its class, and it outpaces rivals such as the Ford Taurus (19/29 mpg) and Kia Cadenza (19/28 mpg).

The Avalon also comes with a hybrid powertrain combining a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 200-horsepower electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. The hybrid delivers 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Choose the Avalon hybrid to enjoy the best fuel economy in the full-size sedan segment. The segment's other hybrid, the Buick LaCrosse hybrid, lags the Avalon by a wide margin, with fuel economy of 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Even though our Touring test car looks sporty, its laid-back driving dynamics will feel familiar to those who've driven Avalons in the past, and this is actually a good thing. It has a very smooth ride overall, though some bumps make it into the cabin. Handling is on the soft side, but the sedan remains quite poised through the turns. The steering system is responsive and pretty sharp for a car of this size. There is a Sport mode that can be turned on to sharpen steering feel and overall responsiveness. The brakes are good, with decent stopping power and control for solid normal and panic stops.

Technology

Technology
9

Toyota's Entune infotainment system is available across the Avalon line. Entune allows you to access key mobile apps using the car's touch screen, and the system connects with your mobile device via an auxiliary input, Bluetooth or a USB connection. The available navigation system interfaces well with the Entune system, although Toyota has not incorporated the latest mobile technology, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is wireless charging for mobile devices available on most models.

Safety

Safety
9

Select Avalon models offer a variety of available active safety features, such as a backup camera, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Many of these features are available individually or as part of Toyota's Safety Sense package.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2016 Avalon one of its Top Safety Picks. The sedan earned a top score of Good in all areas regarding crashworthiness, and the Avalon received a Superior rating from the IIHS for the crash avoidance and mitigation benefits offered by the optional Safety Sense package.

The Avalon received a perfect five-star rating for overall crash protection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The sedan received four out of five stars for frontal-impact crash protection, a perfect five stars for side-impact crash protection and four out of five stars for rollover protection.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
9

The 2016 Toyota Avalon XLE starts with a base price of $32,650. The Hybrid XLE Plus is priced from $36,650. Our Avalon Touring came in with a base price of $37,050. The lineup tops out at $41,950 for a Hybrid Limited. Though the pricing mirrors that of most competitors, there are a couple models priced lower than the Avalon – namely the Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger. Still, the one thing the Avalon offers that these less-expensive models don't is a reputation for outstanding reliability, and we imagine this attribute will be a compelling draw for many buyers.

The Avalon hybrid isn't the only model of its kind in its class, and the segment includes the Buick LaCrosse hybrid. However, the Buick, with its mild-hybrid eAssist powertrain, trails the Avalon hybrid by a significant margin when it comes to fuel economy, making the Avalon a better choice for hybrid shoppers interested in getting the most frugal mileage.

Overall

Overall
9

The 2016 Toyota Avalon is up against strong competition in the full-size sedan class. Its competitors include the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, Kia Cadenza, Nissan Maxima, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Azera. It's hard to make a bad choice with this selection, but the Avalon has Toyota reliability in its favor, along with a comfortable ride and a roomy, well-appointed cabin.

The big Avalon is beginning to shake off its image of being stodgy, thanks its sleek looks and variety of models. From the frugal Avalon hybrid to the sportier variants in the lineup, this Toyota presents choices for a fairly diverse group of buyers. If you're looking for a roomy full-size sedan offering a pleasant driving experience and a comfortable cabin, the Toyota Avalon shines as a compelling pick.