Being in the tire business and an auto enthusiast, I was skeptical at first as I had looked at a Lexus product also. This car has a smooth ride, amazing back seat room, a powerful engine and just delivered an amazing 32.1 MPG on a recent interstate drive. This auto is a "well kept" secret that needs to be unleashed on the automobile public who enjoy a smooth ride, volumes of interior room, etc. and is competitive with Lexus in value and features!
Wow, are we impressed. This vehicle is such a great road car. Quiet, smooth ride, with lots of punch if you need to pass. 30+ MPG on the highway and 23-24 in town. Love the new dash re-design and the six-speed automatic. You can barely tell it's shifting. Plenty of room both in the front and back. Heated/cooled seats are a joy. Our friend, who drives a Lexus LS460, said our Avalon was quieter than his LS, and just as smooth on the open road. Our final choice was between the Avalon and a Genesis. Genesis was a nice vehicle; however, comparably equipped, the Avalon was thousands less and we liked the FWD for our snowy winters. Test drive it for 30 minutes or more and you'll be sold.
Let me preface this review by saying that the first Avalon I had was excellent. I had it 7 yrs. & traded only because someone hit me. The 2011 Avalon I have now is also an excellent ride, but the wind noise and some of its extras are more trouble than they're worth.
Used to LeSabre. Avy does not have as many features, has a motor whine, and windows stick; trunk whams when closing. Overall ride is smooth, gas is good. Info display very limited. 1st and last; back to Buick. More bang for the buck.
I owned 2006 and 2010 Avalon Limiteds. The 2011 is bit better. I don't know why, but fuel mileage increased over 2010, but it's a good thing. Pavement noises are pretty much absent. Riding over pavement irregularities is superb. Space, ergonomics, textures, panels, grains, and the like fit well, look, well, and are pleasing to the eye. I've never purchased the navigation system. The engine and transmission are smooth. Heating, including the seats, and air conditioning are wonderful. Blizzard Pearl and the beige leather are fine color combinations. Low road and wind noise. I don't understand the "9" ratings for MPG, but at 75 MPH I get 34-35 on road. Needs more thing support.
Navigation and Premium Audio ($1,450 -- includes voice-activated touchscreen DVD navigation system with integrated back-up camera, JBL Synthesis AM/FM four-disc CD changer with MP3/WMA playback capability, 660 watts, 12 speakers including subwoofer, XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic and 90-day trial subscription, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology); Carpet Floor Mats/Trunk Mat ($199).
No drama with traction control on and barely more with traction control off. Some torque steer at wide-open throttle, but not terrible. Shifts are very smooth and just shy of redline.
Squishy long-travel pedal, average distances and adequate fade resistance. Moderate dive but quiet ABS and straight stops all.
Skid pad: First Toyota/Lexus that does not beep a warning just before (non-defeat) ESP begins correcting for you. ESP uses both throttle and minimal brake pulses to keep limits below the point at which squealing tires are allowed to protest. Slalom: Silly test for this car...squishy suspension, slow, highly isolated steering and reluctance to change direction all watched over by ESP that punishes abruptly if you push it.