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Used 2004 Toyota Avalon XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A) Consumer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars

In A Class All It's Own

Evan, 03/25/2020
updated 08/05/2022
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
20 of 20 people found this review helpful

Last summer, My 1999 Camry V6 XLE finally bit the dust at over 250k. It had been a good car and I knew I wanted to stick with Toyota, but also was looking for a model with higher feature content. An Aunt of mine was looking to unload her 2004 Avalon XLS to replace it with the 2020 model. She drove it here and there, and after sixteen years, it had only logged a little over 91k. Looked showroom new and was well cared for over it's life so far. I went ahead and made the purchase and I am so glad I did. This big Toyota is far more robust than the Camry. I've always heard people say that the Avalon is a stretched Camry, which is theoretically true. Stretched Camry platform, similar powertrains. However, the cars seem to share little else in common as far as their overall personas. The Camry was slightly more pedestrian, even in XLE guise. They were nice cars either way, but the Avalon takes everything to an entirely new level. Distinctive and understated elegance is the best way I can describe the exterior. Clean, crisp lines and fine detailing that isn't overdone or obnoxious. It won't turn heads, but it exudes a quiet dignity and a small touch of prestige. I just love the interior. I have a model with the bench seat and column shifter. Very spacious and luxurious interior. The leather used seems of higher quality than might be found in an upper level Camry and there is simulated wood grain trim which adds a nice touch. Automatic climate control, heated seats, memory seats, multi info display as well as touches like the wood grain trimmed steering wheel all add to a feeling of opulence and luxury. More sound deadening materials are obviously used as well. The car is amazingly quiet. I get the usual wind noise at highway speeds, but it seems more hushed. In city driving I can't hear much of anything at all, other than the radio. Gas mileage is about what I would expect for a car of this size. Nothing too spectacular, but not dismal either. Some features take some getting used to if you haven't had them before. VSC (Vehicle stability control) is a great feature that aids braking in panic situations to help avoid an accident. It is welcome here. Due to this car's larger dimensions, there is a little more play in the steering as opposed to the Camry. I once activated it in a turn and a beeping warning comes on to let you know it activated. In panic situations it will also apply full braking power regardless of if the driver takes their foot off the pedal or not. You will feel this sensation of the braking engaging. Was a little unnerving the first time with this car on I-25 in Denver, but I realized that it was a feature of the car and have gotten somewhat used to it. I really like this car so far and I'm sure with proper care, it will last forever. Very solid, quality vehicle. It's not too hard to find clean, low mileage Avalon models. They aren't popular with the younger crowd. There are many well cared for examples. If you haven't thought about it or have been curious about these cars, they are definitely worth a look. Update November 2021. Still love this car. Has had minor issues here and there mostly due to age but overall, nothing too terrible. Only gripe about driving is that I find the brake assist overly sensitive sometimes and it's annoying when it kicks in at the wrong time. More about that in a moment. Some kind of linkage came loose on the front sway bar link and produced a loud clunking noise this past September. My local mechanic found the issue and it was fixed for $95.00. Replaced front struts myself. Parts cost was about $200.00 Radiator inlet broke where hose attaches. Replaced radiator myself. Parts cost $85.00. A front driver and rear passenger wheel bearing. Replaced for about $450.00 total for both. The overflow tank for the coolant is very cheap plastic. A hole formed and a small leak developed in the bottle from heat. Replaced, but I suspect the new one is deforming as well. It is mildly annoying, but luckily cheap and minor. Had all recall work done upon purchase as it had not been done up to that point. Probably coming due for timing belt service, which is of course a "to be expected" maintenance item. Radio backlight seems to be going out at night now. Will probably replace radio. Was hit by a DWI driver on 5/28/22. Car held well but paint quality has proved disappointing. Both of my Camrys took a smack on the bumper once in a while, but the paint adhered well and may have cracked but never flaked off the way it did with the Avalon. It's as if they just painted the plastic bumper without priming it.... Brake assist and VSC notes: I like the VSC, it helps stabilize the rear in sharp turns and in snow I find as well. I actually couldn't imagine this car without it. I know it was optional on Gen 2 when they were new, but it was totally worth the extra money. Brake assist comes with it. Brake assist has pluses and minuses. The brake assist senses when you may be panic braking and pre-applies the brakes. It gives the sensation of not having brakes at all at first because your foot is catching up to the system if that makes sense. Depending on the situation I find that I either have to remove my foot from the brake to reset the system if there is time and its not a panic moment, or push the brake hard all the way to the floor to catch up. When the system engages you WILL stop, don't get me wrong, but any finesse of the pedal is gone. You have no choice but to floor the pedal and let the system almost "grab" the car to a stop. It's a computer nanny thing I still don't get, but Toyota saw some value in it so here we are. All of the other features and Toyota hallmarks of quality and reliability are there, so I try not to be to nitpicky about it, but the brake assist is probably my least favorite feature to be honest. VSC is great though because is has stopped me from fishtailing in deep snow a couple of times. Overall I'm still happy with this car and will probably hold onto it since still have low mileage and it looks good. I love the space and the luxury. Toyota did a good job with these by far and if you take care of it, this car will easily last a lifetime. Of the Avalon and the ES300/ES330 of this era, the Lexus offered a bit more cachet and sleek luxury, while the Avalon was larger and more understated. I like both, but the Avalon has really grown on me. Still a sharp looking car that exudes a bit of class. Every time I get in....I'm in love! Definitely a "forever" car. Which I'm more than ok with. I'm not that into car shopping, so if I can find something I can live with for a long time, I'm happy. As long as it looks classy and nice through the years with proper care, I am sold!

Safety
5 out of 5 stars
Technology
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Interior
5 out of 5 stars
Comfort
5 out of 5 stars
Reliability
5 out of 5 stars
Value
5 out of 5 stars
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4.75 out of 5 stars

Best kept secret ever

avylvr, 07/26/2014
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
33 of 35 people found this review helpful

I traded in a junk Buick in Dec of 2012 for my beautiful 2004 one owner, all service records, 72,000 mile Avalon. I had read reviews which appeared it was a good car and man were they right. It's been growing on me, I love this car. I commute 120 miles round trip a day so now I'm at 124,000 miles and this car still feels like it came off the showroom floor. I sunk about $1500 into it with new Pirelli tires, new front rotors and brakes all the way around, new rear wheel bearing, transmission service and of course the timing belt/water pump maintenance. I'm going for 400k miles. It was well taken care of before me by a little old lady and I will continue to do the same.

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5 out of 5 stars

Good car, enjoying it!

BHSK, 09/29/2003
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
6 of 6 people found this review helpful

I researched many consumer websites before purchasing. I was wanting a spacious, reliable, comfortable driving car. I know others who have purchased the Avalon XLS in recent years that are also very satisfied. We recently took a trip and the car handled very smoothly and quietly on the interstate. I had been driving a Cadillac Sedan Deville prior to my purchase and was not happy getting only 18/24 MPG with that vechile, even with premium gas. Also had a number of repairs each year, and the Cadillac parts were very expensive (struts, suspension sensor light, etc). Thus far, it has been easy to see why Avalon has won many "best buy" consumer awards.

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5 out of 5 stars

love it

hawkeye, 09/27/2003
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

I testdrove several cars before deciding on the Avalon. I liked it better than the more expensive Lexus ES300, because the Avalon feels spacier. The nav system is working very well. For destinations that I'm familiar with it always picks the best route I've learned over the years (in 'quickest' mode). It's taught me some new routes when using 'shortest' or 'alternate' mode. The screen is clear under all conditions, being mounted under a slight overhang. The Avalon responds real well, is comfortable/luxurious to drive, and when kicked down really accelerates well for such a large car.

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4.5 out of 5 stars

a few upgrades

T J, 10/09/2003
XLS 4dr Sedan w/Bench Seats (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Really nice, get all the options and make it look sporty ie; chrome mags, mud flaps, rear spoiler, nose wrap, rain guards,front hod scoop, auto start, then it will be complete and not your ave toyota-if u got the $ & cents.

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