What Is It?
The Toyota Avalon is an Edmunds "A"-rated full-size sedan available in gasoline and hybrid models, as well as a variety of trim levels.
What's New About This Model?
For 2016, the Toyota Avalon now offers shoppers a choice of two new suspension setups. The one featured on the XLE through Limited trim levels has been engineered to provide an even more comfortable ride. The other suspension tuning, featured on the new Touring trim, aims to deliver a more dynamic and responsive driving experience. Toyota promises both are an improvement upon the current Avalon's single suspension setup that we rated as being somewhat conflicted between the sporting and comfort ends of the ride comfort spectrum.
There are also minor styling changes for 2016, though you'd need to look at back-to-back photos to really tell the difference. Up front, the lower fascia features a reshaped grille and slim lower turn signals that replace the old foglights (which are largely redundant with modern high-intensity headlights), while the sportier Touring trim gets its own variation of this new front end. The rear also gets new taillights.
New features include a larger standard Entune touchscreen interface, while the XLE Premium receives standard navigation, Entune apps and Qi wireless smartphone charging.
When Does It Go on Sale and How Much Does It Cost?
No official pricing has been released yet, but it shouldn't be much more than the 2015 model's base price of $31,590.
How Many Body Styles and Trim Levels Are There?
The 2016 Toyota Avalon is only available in a four-door sedan body style that seats five. There are five trim levels on the regular gasoline-powered version: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Limited and Touring. The Avalon Hybrid is available in XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited.
What Kind of Engines and Transmissions Does It Have?
Toyota announced no changes to the Avalon's two available powertrains. These include the 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. It's rated to return 24 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway). This engine makes the Avalon one of the quickest full-size sedans in the segment.
The Avalon Hybrid has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor fed by trunk-mounted batteries. They combine to produce 200 hp and return 40 mpg combined, an exceptional number for a full-size sedan.
What Unique Features Does It Offer?
Besides offering the only full hybrid powertrain in the segment, the Avalon uniquely offers Qi wireless charging as standard equipment on the XLE Premium trim and above. Although there's a good chance your phone will require a special adapter to make it work, it does eliminate the need for unsightly and tangle-prone wires in the cabin. It also puts the Avalon ahead of the curve for when wireless charging becomes more widespread.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
The Avalon is presently the only full-size sedan to receive an Edmunds.com "A" rating. However, the Chevrolet Impala is a compelling alternative. It has a quiet and comfortable cabin, a smooth ride, an enormous trunk and excellent safety ratings. Its frustrating infotainment interface is a reason to think twice.
The Kia Cadenza is a full-size sedan that has clearly studied the handbook established by the Avalon over nearly two decades on the market. Skewing heavily on the side of luxury and isolation, it provides a large cabin, a comfortable ride, sufficient performance and a user-friendly interior.
For something a bit different, the Chrysler 300 is a more performance-oriented full-size sedan with a distinctive design aesthetic. It primarily differs from the Avalon under the hood. Although it, too, comes standard with a V6, instead of a fuel-saving hybrid, it offers a tire-shredding V8 for those who prefer their sedans to be big in size and power. The option of rear- or all-wheel drive is distinctive as well.
Should You Wait for It?
If, after a test-drive, the 2015 Toyota Avalon's ride strikes you as too busy and firm, then waiting for the more comfort-tuned 2016 version is a good idea. Ditto the new Touring model, if you're looking for something a bit more responsive. Chances are, however, that like us you find that the current Avalon strikes a perfectly acceptable ride-and-handling balance. As such, the savings you may potentially enjoy on a 2015 Avalon may outweigh the 2016's dynamic and visual updates.