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2010 Toyota Avalon ReviewThe Good
Refinement, efficient yet powerful performance, an inviting cabin, plenty of standard amenities, and ride comfort that rivals that of competitors costing nearly twice as much keep the 2010 Toyota Avalon at the top of its game.The Bad
A hefty pricetag, staid appearance, and rear seats that don’t fold down for added cargo space are among the major drawbacks dogging the 2010 Avalon.
The CarGurus View
One of the very best family sedans available, the 2010 Avalon must overcome the stigma of Toyota’s recent safety woes, in which it is but one of several vehicles implicated, to reclaim its lofty status among the ever-improving competition. Smart money says that’ll happen, but not without some extra hard looks from prospective buyers.
At a Glance
If nothing else, the 2010 Toyota Avalon is rolling proof that pampered performance can overcome stodgy looks. This full-size, five-passenger family sedan isn’t exactly a newcomer to the car wars, and has gained enough street cred to be counted among the leaders in its class. Though offering a near-luxury interior, a pampered highway ride, and an efficient yet potent V6, this unassuming auto has, unfortunately, had the misfortune to be among those vehicles cited in the recent mass recall initiated by Toyota’s safety problems. Sales have resumed after a hiatus of several weeks, and doubtless most dealers are willing to talk serious turkey in getting people on a budget into this ordinarily pricy vehicle.
In any case, three trims grace the Avalon lineup, the base XL, midlevel XLS, and the top-shelf Limited. Each is available only with front-wheel-drive and features a single V8 powertrain, but all are equipped for an upscale, indeed almost luxurious ride. Cabin comfort and ambiance, along with amenities such as cruise control, power-adjustable seats, and climate control are standard even in the XL, and, of course, soar to downright heavenly heights when moving up to the higher trims.
Essentially unchanged from the ’09 version, this generation of the Avalon may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but no serious changes are rumored, for the near future anyhow. No matter its age, this comfortable and capable sedan has had Ford scrambling to boost its Taurus, Buick working into the wee hours to improve its LaCrosse, and Chrysler crossing its fingers that the 300’s available V8 power will carry it a bit further.
The sole powertrain available for the 2010 Avalon is a well-respected 24-valve DOHC 3.5-liter V6 that mates with a highly regarded six-speed auto-manual transmission for some 268 hp at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. Variable valve timing keeps the power-laden V6 economical at 19/28 mpg of regular unleaded gas.
Reviewers are in accord that the potent V6 is a bear when merging and passing, and one review claims 0-60 in 6.2 seconds. Not bad for the typical staid family sedan, but not as potent as some on the market. The six-speed shiftable automatic, meanwhile has drawn the admiration of nearly every professional reviewer for its alert shifts and silky performance up and down the gears. While aptly designed for the open road, the 3.5-liter/six-speed combo feels very comfortable in the city, as well.
Ride & Handling
Described by virtually all reviewers as offering one of the most comfortable rides available in a contemporary sedan, the 2010 Avalon boasts a front and rear independent suspension with MacPherson struts all around, and front and rear stabilizer bars. The XL rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels, while the XLS and Limited each sport 17-inch alloys.
Most reviewers find the Avalon’s ride smooth and luxurious, with uneven pavement, ruts, and lesser bumps well modulated, especially by the 17-inch all-season tires carrying the XLS and Limited trims. A bit of float over troughs and swells disturbs a few reviewers, but for most, plush beats shudder hands down.
Numerous reviewers agree that if the Avalon has a weakness in its handling characteristics, it’s a bit of lightness in the steering wheel. Additionally, body-lean in tighter corners disturbs some reviewers, while others complain that significant nosedive in simulated panic stops can be a bit disconcerting. Reviewers agree that the Avalon is not for those who crave sheer driving excitement. Stately? Yes. Plush? Somewhat. Rally-ready? Definitely not.
Cabin & Comfort
Travelers will lack for very little when riding in the 2010 Avalon XL trim, with cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, reclining rear seats, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, cruise control, tilting and telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, dual-zone climate control, simulated alloy dash, door, and center console accents, and MP3-capable 6-CD changer with nine speakers all standard amenities. The midlevel XLS, meanwhile, adds a standard power sunroof, leather upholstery, heated mirrors, driver’s-side auto-dimming electrochromatic mirror, universal remote, leather-wrapped steering wheel, phone pre-wiring, and simulated wood and alloy interior accents. Finally, the high-end Avalon Limited sports, in addition to all of the above, standard multi-level front-seat heating, power-adjustable lumbar support, keyless ignition, and memorized driver’s settings.
Options for the XL include many of the standard features found on the higher trims, while the XLS can be delivered with available DVD navigation and JBL premium synthesized audio. Optional for the Limited trim are adaptive cruise control and a power, eight-way-adjustable passenger seat.
Somewhat spatially challenged with only 14 cubic feet of trunk space, the Avalon will be hard-pressed to carry the luggage for an extended vacation, but otherwise reviewers are favorably impressed with its easily discernable gauges, simple but effective controls, admirable visibility, and ample head- and legroom. A few reviewers have noted, however, that though the Avalon’s cabin exudes quiet elegance, this same ambiance can be found in some of its less expensive competition, while at least one review notes some disconcerting dashboard rattles in test vehicles.
Touted as a family sedan, the 2010 Avalon obviously comes through with a comprehensive list of standard safety features, including four-wheel ABS, traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, active front headrests, front and rear head airbags, and daytime running lights across the lineup. The XLS additionally boasts a remote anti-theft alarm system (optional for the XL trim) and front fog/driving lights, while the Limited adds turn-signal-integrated mirrors, and xenon HID self-leveling headlights. The Limited also offers available adaptive cruise control that uses radar impulses to manage speed on traffic-laden highways.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recognize the Avalon’s safety advantages, with the NHTSA giving it five stars, its highest score, for front and side impact protection, and four stars for rollover protection. The IIHS also gives the 2010 Avalon its highest rating of Good in front- and side-impact testing.
What Owners Think
Owners are hard-pressed to find fault with the 2010 Avalon, but its lightweight steering is one glitch that's mentioned occasionally. Lackluster standard tires and a less-than-top-notch navigation system also are noted among the few owner complaints. Finally, it seems that the Avalon’s staid design is somewhat of a letdown for a number of owners, with the hope being that Toyota will add a bit of styling boost somewhere down the road.
Positive comments, naturally, are numerous and nearly all begin with the Avalon’s ride comfort and acceleration, with fuel efficiency and cabin comfort also remaining near the top the list of praiseworthy items. Details that merit special mention include the convenience of push-button start, multi-level-heated front seats, and its traditionally solid resale value.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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