2018 Toyota Avalon

2018 Toyota Avalon Review

The Avalon's silky power and comfort remind one of when roomy family sedans, not SUVs, ruled the roads.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Combining comfort, quality and impressive fuel economy, the 2018 Toyota Avalon ranks among the best large sedans on the market. A cushioned ride and hushed cabin make the Avalon well-suited for commutes and road trips, and its roomy interior offers plenty of room to spread out. It even offers a dash of speed and performance that befits its mission as a deluxe daily shuttle.

Starting with a well-equipped base model, the Avalon offers a long list of desirable standard features, including a V6 engine, leather upholstery, heated seats and several driver assistance features. From there you can opt into progressively more full-featured models with navigation, enhanced audio and luxury creature comforts such as heated rear seats, upgraded leather and rear-seat climate controls.

For such a large and roomy car, the Avalon returns surprisingly good fuel economy. On our evaluation test loop, the Avalon returned 28.6 mpg, well above its EPA rating. In the remaining miles of mixed driving, we observed 24 mpg - right on the money with its EPA combined mpg rating. More impressive is that this comes from a car with a large V6 engine that generates 268 horsepower and helps the car accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The Avalon is no sport sedan, but an available Touring trim with larger wheels and tighter suspension tuning delivers more enhanced performance.

Overall, we recommend the 2018 Avalon. While there are some other solid choices available for a big sedan, including the Chevrolet Impala, Kia Cadenza and Nissan Maxima, the Toyota Avalon continues to be a standout.



what's new

The 2018 Toyota Avalon carries over with no changes.

we recommend

Loaded with convenience and safety features, a sunroof and a well-crafted interior, the 2018 Toyota Avalon XLE Plus offers the best bang for the buck. The base XLE also makes a fine choice as it offers the most XLE Plus features, minus the sunroof, for less money. Upgraded leather and other luxurylike touches make the Limited a top pick if cost isn't an issue, while the Touring is a sportier option. With all of the Avalon's standard equipment, however, the XLE Plus or base XLE is hard to beat.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Toyota Avalon is available in five trim levels: XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Touring and Limited. All come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine (268 horsepower, 248 pound-feet of torque) and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The XLE is well-equipped for a base trim and feels expertly assembled. A 3.5-liter V6 engine (268 horsepower, 248 pound-feet of torque) and six-speed automatic transmission come standard, as do 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, and heated and power-adjustable front seats. Additional conveniences include keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen with Toyota's Entune interface and voice controls, and an eight-speaker audio system. Toyota's Safety Sense package also comes standard and includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning (with pedestrian detection), automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.

The XLE Plus adds a sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The XLE Premium offers more significant upgrades such as driver-seat memory settings, a wireless smartphone charging pad, navigation, a nine-speaker audio system, smartphone app integration, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Touring trim is best for those seeking a measure of sport since it comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and taillights, a sport-tuned suspension and unique interior trim.

The Limited bundles the same features from the Touring trim (minus the interior accents) along with xenon headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, automatic wipers, ambient cabin lighting, tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a rear power sunshade, Safety Connect emergency notification and roadside assistance services, and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Toyota Avalon Limited (3.5-liter V6 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.5 / 5.0
Roominess5.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality5.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.5 / 5.0

Technology

3.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.5 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
No one expects the Avalon to be a performance machine, so it's no surprise that it doesn't perform like one. But it's a good interstate cruiser with a big V6, smooth transmission and consistent brakes, and the chassis and steering feel sure and steady so long as you don't hustle it through corners.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The Avalon's big V6 has plenty of power for passing and merging; it will even spin the wheels if the traction control is off. The gas pedal is responsive, but the sluggish transmission can be a wet blanket. We measured a 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds, which is respectable for a large family sedan.

braking

edmunds rating
While the pedal feels soft underfoot, brake response is sure and linear, so it's easy to make buttery smooth stops without upsetting your passengers. Our panic-stop test from 60 mph was average, but it earned bonus points for consistent performance over repeated stops.

steering

edmunds rating
The Avalon's steering is light, and there isn't much on-center feel. Even so, there's more feedback than we expected once we initiated turns, and this gave us a fairly good idea of how hard the front tires were working and how much more they could take.

handling

edmunds rating
In the realm of routine street driving, the Avalon feels reassuringly neutral and tidy. But a tight on-ramp or winding mountain road can expose understeer and a nose-heavy feel that gives the impression that the suspension calibration is too soft for anyone who likes a sporty-handling sedan.

drivability

edmunds rating
Highway cruising is the Avalon's forte. The transmission shifts agreeably and is generally quite smooth, but it can come across as sluggish if called upon to react quickly or drop more than one gear, as when passing slow trucks while going up a grade. Selecting Sport mode helps in these instances.

comfort

edmunds rating
If spending long stints in the driver's seat is your style, you'll enjoy the Avalon. Its soft suspension delivers a comfortable highway ride as long as the road surface is in reasonable shape. The plush front seats, a quiet cabin and strong air-conditioning make traveling long distances a breeze.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are somewhat flat, but they're supportive and comfy thanks to their softness; you sink into them. Adjustable lumbar support is effective. But the rear seats are flatter and have less give. They're not as comfortable as the fronts on long drives.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
This is the plush, cloudlike ride that interstate drivers long for. It's softly sprung. Bumpy roads can overwhelm the suspension, though, and the Avalon can get a bit too floaty.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The Avalon is commendably quiet and especially well-insulated against wind and engine noise. A little tire and road noise remains, but it's minor. Against this quiet backdrop we actually noticed that cornering made the owner's manual clunk around inside the glovebox, which has an unlined interior.

climate control

edmunds rating
The tri-zone system is effective and easy to use. It takes a second to spool up but easily cools the cabin on hot days. But you can't control the rear zone from the front. Front and outer rear passengers get heated seats. The ventilation in the front seats is all noise with little effect.

interior

edmunds rating
The Avalon's interior is clean, uncluttered and attractive in its design and use of materials. Its roomy interior gives passengers ample space to stretch and move around, and it's generally easy to get in and out of. But we wish the mirrors were bigger and the steering wheel telescoped more.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Most primary controls and secondary switches are well-marked. But the steering wheel blocks the view of the volume knob and some crucial buttons to the left of the touchscreen. These buttons are touch-sensitive, but they offer no tactile feedback so you must look to see where your fingers are going.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The Avalon features large door apertures all around and slim rocker overhangs. The doors themselves are slim, and they stay open with mild friction. Rear passengers have it even easier, thanks to a wide seat bottom and a seatback that's aligned with the rear door jamb instead of being set back.

driving position

edmunds rating
The seats have a good deal of adjustment and can accommodate both sit-up and more reclined drivers. But some taller drivers may have a hard time finding the ideal driving position, not because of the seats but because the telescopic steering mechanism has a limited range of extension.

roominess

edmunds rating
This car provides ample space, front and rear, for a long road trip. Everyone enjoys great leg- and headroom and elbow room. The only potential drawback we can see is slightly limited toe room in the rear seat if the corresponding front seat is set to its lowest height.

visibility

edmunds rating
Visibility toward the front half of the car is good, and rear visibility is satisfactory. The side mirrors are small for such a full-size sedan, making blind-spot monitoring a necessity rather than a convenience.

quality

edmunds rating
Toyota went to great effort to optimize materials and their placement to ensure drivers and passengers are always next to, or interfacing with, the good stuff. But cheaper materials do appear in the dim recesses if you go looking for it. Still, the construction and build quality are excellent.

utility

edmunds rating
As befits a big sedan, the Avalon features a sufficiently large trunk. The rear seats don't fold down, but there is a central pass-through. Surprisingly, interior storage space is limited, with the Avalon's primary stowage spot being the moderately sized center console box.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Front door pockets are small and can't hold bottles. The center console has a moderately large cargo box with a removable second-level tray. A retractable Qi charging platform sits in front of the shifter. Rear seats have even smaller door pockets, with cupholders in the fold-down armrest.

cargo space

edmunds rating
Although the rear seats don't fold down, the generous 16-cubic-foot trunk volume does not disappoint. A wide trunk opening allows easy access, and the liftover height is average, with a mild drop down to the floor. A central pass-through between the rear seats is provided for long, skinny items.

child safety seat accomodation

edmunds rating
LATCH anchors are easy to grasp but difficult to engage due to the seat material that surrounds it. Upper LATCH points are easy to access. Generous rear kneeroom means you don't have to scoot the front seats up much when installing a bulky rear-facing seat.

technology

edmunds rating
It comes standard with advanced driver aids, has built-in navigation, and the Bluetooth interface works quite well. But the Avalon may not be on your list if you're smartphone-savvy. The Entune interface is clumsy, it lacks CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and there's no LTE tethering.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The JBL audio system is effective at pop vocals, but with a mildly muted midbass area you may find yourself raising the volume on rock, jazz and classical. Navigation maps are built in and don't require a paired phone. The lack of direct access to maps is a minus; you have to hit "Home" first.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
Phone connectivity is excellent and quick. The Bluetooth system works great, and if you have a modern phone, you can even search individual albums and playlists. There's also a USB and auxiliary-in jack up front underneath the Qi induction charger.

driver aids

edmunds rating
It comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control, but the latter does not function below about 30 mph. Passive equipment includes lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and a relatively low-resolution, rear-facing camera.

voice control

edmunds rating
Toyota's voice control is adequate so long as you understand its syntax and follow it accordingly. Voice control works for using navigation and the radio and passing voice commands to your smartphone. You can also call up certain apps and weather information.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.