What's New for 2001
Two colors, Cognac Brown and Constellation Blue Pearl, are dumped for 2001, and an emergency trunk release has been added.
It would seem buyers of full-sized sedans generally aren't interested in character. Most big four-doors are dull pieces of machinery to look at and a snooze to drive. The beauty in such a vehicle lies in what it can do for the customer in terms of providing space for people and things without compromising the ride or occupant comfort. It should look upscale, but not gaudy, providing just enough glitz and luxury to let others know you have achieved a degree of success in life. Finally, such a vehicle must also be reliable and able to handle years of daily-driver tasks without so much as a whimper.
Since its introduction in 1995, the Toyota Avalon has fit this description: bland as egg whites, but solid, roomy, and dependable. Last year, the Avalon was redesigned. Substantial changes improved its already attractive qualities, but its mission in the grand scheme of things, ersatz Buick, remained the same.
There are two models to choose from: XL and XLS. The main difference between the two is the level of standard equipment, with XLS representing the more luxurious version with JBL audio, programmable HomeLink remote system, remote keyless entry, and aluminum wheels. Either can be ordered with front bucket or bench seats trimmed in available leather upholstery.
Avalon's 3.0-liter V6 engine features a variable valve timing system (Toyota calls its system VVT-i). It provides additional horsepower, improved fuel economy and torque, lower emissions and smoother shifting. The previous Avalon was no slouch in the power department, so the recent engine improvements are icing on an already refined cake.
Toyota also updated the styling. A side benefit of this is a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), not that it was a substantial problem in the first place. There's also increased trunk volume, grocery bag hooks, and a larger storage tray and cargo net.
Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), which includes traction and stability control systems, can be added to Avalon XLS. VSC utilizes the braking system to correct understeer or oversteer conditions in a turn. Traction control reduces tire slippage during acceleration. Avalon also features a brake-assist system that detects emergency braking and applies supplemental line pressure to reduce stopping distances.
Other safety features include a body structure that effectively absorbs and diffuses energy along predictable paths, energy-absorbing material in the roof rails, front pillar and center pillar to help reduce potential head injury, and super-sized rearview mirrors.
With Avalon, Toyota meets and exceeds the full-size sedan buyer's expectations. Sure, the price is higher than offerings from Detroit like the Buick LeSabre, Chrysler Concorde and Mercury Grand Marquis. But unflappable quality doesn't come cheap. Want a Lexus but need six-passenger capacity or huge amounts of rear legroom? The Avalon is your car.