Used 2003 Toyota Avalon Sedan

Pros & Cons

  • Lexus-like quality, smooth V6 engine, huge rear seat.
  • High price tag, bland personality.
List Price Estimate
$1,894 - $4,154

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A comfortable, though pasteurized, full-size sedan.

Vehicle overview

Introduction: It would seem buyers of full-size 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. It's a popular seller and often exceeds the full-size sedan-buyer's expectations. Sure, the price is higher than offerings from Detroit like the Buick LeSabre 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.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The Avalon is based on the previous-generation Camry platform and it shares the latter's main mechanical components. There are two trim levels from which to choose: XL and XLS. The main difference between the two is the level of standard equipment. XL will get you the basics like dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a CD player, a multifunction information display and power locks and windows. The XLS is the more luxurious version that adds extra features like a premium JBL audio system, HomeLink, remote keyless entry, heated outside mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, and aluminum wheels.

The Avalon can be ordered with front bucket or bench seats trimmed in either leather or cloth upholstery. Other options, depending on trim, include a premium audio system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a driver's seat memory feature, heated front seats, a sunroof and a 115-volt A/C outlet capable of powering small electronic devices. Also new this year is a DVD-based navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance: The Avalon relies on a 3.0-liter V6 engine. Equipped with variable valve timing, this V6 offers good fuel economy and power. It produces 210 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque, which is transmitted to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic. These horses are more than enough for city driving and highway passing, and owners can expect 0-to-60 mph acceleration times to take about 8 seconds.

Safety: One of Avalon's strengths lies in safety. The car has earned a crash-test rating of "Good" (the highest possible) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and better-than-average scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Side airbags are standard, and Toyota's Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), can be added to the Avalon XLS. This system includes traction and stability control systems that can reduce the chance of hazardous skids and slides. It also includes a brake-assist system that detects emergency braking and applies supplemental pressure to reduce stopping distances. All Avalons have ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes. Interior Design and Special Features: Toyota's full-size car is also great for transporting people and luggage. While billed as a six-passenger car with the front bench, the middle front occupant doesn't have much legroom. We recommend getting an Avalon with the comfortable and supportive bucket seats unless there is genuine need for six-passenger seating. The trunk holds 15.9 cubic feet of cargo, and there is a locking pass-through door behind the rear seat. This pass-through allows room for longer items such as skis.

Driving Impressions: Road and wind noise is minimal thanks to thick side glass and substantial sound-deadening materials. Once moving, the Avalon's light steering and soft suspension make for comfortable long-distance cruising. It isn't a particularly interesting car to drive, so drivers wanting a bit of involvement will be dissapointed. But if all you're looking for is dependable and comfortable transportation with a minimum of hassles, the Avalon should serve you well.

2003 Highlights

A few minor changes are in store for Toyota's large sedan. On the outside, you'll find freshened styling that consists of a new grille, new taillamps and redesigned bumpers. Inside, the 2003 Avalon has been upgraded with dual-stage airbags and ISO-FIX child safety seat anchor points. XLS models also have more features this year, including an autodimming driver-side mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a simulated wood-trimmed steering wheel and an optional navigation system.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Toyota Avalon.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Best car I have ever owned or driven.
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bucket Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
With 170,000 miles and not a single problem I can say I picked a winner. It drives like a dream on it's Michelin tires. I get 26-30 mpg highway. I love the rounded curved dash and display. I do hate looking at the cassette tape deck (it reminds me that I am getting older and soon will someday be obsolete). I keep wanting to replace it with something new, but other new cars can't match it's ride. I test drove the 2014 Mercedes, new Avalon, Lexus, infinity, BMW... The only car I liked better than the Avalon was the Audi A8 at $65,000. I will keep this car until it literally falls apart. Update: I now have 217,000 miles and still love the car and have had no problems except the recall on the airbags. Running strong and smooth.
Reliable road partner.
We are third owner of this car, we knew the second owner who kept this car really well. The only thing we've done so far is change timing belt, water pump and fluid wash. Runs like a dream and currently giving me a mixed mileage of 26 mpg. We love the robust build of the car, road handling. The opening of trunk is big and we've had no issues in carrying large grocery bags and a small wagon which always stays in it. The back seat is roomy and has large space for 4 people to sit. I like the drive of this car and will recommend it to anyone looking for luxury at the same time reliable car.
Original Owner for 14+ years/ 334 thousand miles
Ed DeMaio,10/24/2015
XL 4dr Sedan w/Bucket Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
Greatest purchase of a lifetime! This car has survived a family of 4, both my son and my daughter have driven many miles with this vehicle. The rims are aluminum and did not fair well when driven into curbs. My son (20) was able to blow the sub-woofer and destroy the transmission at 180 thousand miles. Only recently has the engine light gone on for the catalytic converter. The car will drive 419 miles on a full tank of gas before the low gas warning light is lit. Today when I drive this car I drive for over 2 hours with the full confidence I had when I bought this car brand new during January 2003. Update May 2017: the catalytic converter 420 light only goes on after 2 1/2 hours of driving.
Low cost comfort
We bought this car 5 years old and 77000 miles for $10,000, much cheaper than new. It is very comfortable on long trips, a very quiet and smooth ride. Good gas mileage. My wife felt the looks needed some pizazz, so I bought a spoiler online and had a bodyshop paint and install it for her birthday present. It adds a lot of character. A few months later, I bought a 2003 Lexus ES 300 and driving one car is almost like driving the other, although the Lexus has a few more amenities. I am absolutely sold on Toyota quality and dependability, after owning 4 GM cars and one Dodge.

Features & Specs

19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5800 rpm
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5800 rpm
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 6
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5800 rpm
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 6
4-speed automatic
210 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 2003 Toyota Avalon Sedan features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2003 Toyota Avalon

Used 2003 Toyota Avalon Sedan Overview

The Used 2003 Toyota Avalon Sedan is offered in the following styles: XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bucket Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XL 4dr Sedan w/Bucket Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A), XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A), and XL 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Toyota Avalon Sedan?

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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Toyota Avalon?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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