I bought my '97 avalon 7 years ago for a whopping $800 with 150k mi. on it. The previous owner had used synthetic oil since he purchased it new and I followed his his advice. It currently has 255k on the odometer. It has zero leaks, zero throttle delay and pulls as hard as it did as the day I bought it. Now the Avalon may not look like much. And it's not that fast off the line. But from 50 to 80 it will surprise you. Since I live near the beach in florida the paint has taken a beating. However, In 7 years, aside from the regular tires, oil and belts, I've replaced the radiator, water pump and alternator. All together I've spent maybe $1000 on non preventative maintenance. The engine and transmission could be classified as military grade they're so solid.
Bought this car when it had 85,409 miles on it. Have replaced struts, brakes, tires, keep the oil and all fluids changed according to Toyota specs/timings. This has been a great car, so much so I just gave it to my youngest daughter for college and I went out and found another great 97 Avalon XL with leather and sunroof. These cars will go the miracle mile if you do everything on a regular schedule, this is especially true of the timing belt--don't push past the 90K mile interval.
Quietness of this car is incredible, even after all these miles, not rattles, shimmy, or shake. Excellent mileage on the highway at 31 miles per gallon combined city and highway is 24 mpg. Reliability is the best I've had in any vehicle I've ever owned. Great car.
No it's not the prettiest car, nor the funnest to drive, but this Avalon now has 210,000 mi. of hard city/highway miles on it and has never seen a tow truck. I've replaced tires, brakes, belts and oil. The car has the original everything else, including the battery, spark plugs and even the muffler.
My sister bought the car new in 97 and gave it to me last year. Today the car has a little over 200k. Theres no problem with the car except for the front right suspension which makes noise on bumpy roads (mentioned in other reviews).