Toyota's full-size sedan
The Avalon is Toyota’s full-size sedan, built in Georgetown, Kentucky. It was introduced in 1994 as a 1995 model. The third generation went on sale in 2005 and remained relatively unchanged until 2011, when it received a revised interior and new front and rear exterior styling. The 2005-08 models came in four trim lines - XL, Touring, XLS and Limited - and all were powered by a 3.5-litre V6 mated to either a five- or six-speed automatic (starting in 2008). The Touring edition was dropped for 2009. Over the years, Avalon kept on adding standard equipment - tire pressure monitoring in 2007, the six-speed automatic in 2008, vehicle stability control in 2009. A navigation system was optional across the board. The top-of-the-line Limited could be loaded with good stuff such as heated/ventilated power seats and keyless entry/ignition and basically was a Lexus wearing a Toyota badge.
THE GOOD STUFF
The 2009 Avalon was a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 2006 model was awarded 5 stars from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in both frontal offset and side impact tests. It is quiet, comfortable and quick, with 0-100 km/h capability of 7.3 seconds. A 2006 model received top marks for ride comfort, engine smoothness/refinement and braking in testing for the Canadian Car of the Year awards. Avalon’s repair record is much better than average and Consumer Reports frequently has tabbed it as a “Best Buy” in class. In a J.D. Power survey, owners rated the reliability of their Avalons among the best.
An online search reveals far more praise for Avalon reliability than complaints. Most trouble spots seem to have been with 2005-07 models, with engine stalling or failure to start (the result of a weak battery) and engine/moonroof leaks being cited by Consumer Guide. The 3.5’s fuel economy was rated at 10.7 L/100km city and 7.0 highway - not in the range of the smaller Camry or Corolla, but not bad for a big car measuring 5,009 mm long. And, unlike many premium or luxury sedans, Avalon does not require more expensive premium gas.
Avalon is one of my favourite big cars - more of a bargain Lexus than Toyota’s version of a Buick - with good performance and a refined interior. A well optioned Limited weighed in at just over $40,000 when new and has held its value very well. Avalons never sold in huge numbers in this country, and sales began slipping in 2008, so you may have to do some searching to locate the one that’s just right. But when you do, you probably will find the search well worth it.
PRICES AT A GLANCE
Note:These are asking prices, not selling prices, in a cross-Canada survey using Autonet.ca and other sources.
Year Approximate price range
2005 $12,887 - $16,502
2006 $13,995 - $16,999
2007 $15,955 - $21,990
2008 $16,995 - $24,888
2009 $17,997 - $27,995
2010 $24,699 - $29,995
Engine:3.5L DOHC V6 (268 hp)
Transmissions:5-speed automatic; 6-speed automatic