The Toyota Avalon is a uniquely American project, using ex-GM engineers to lengthen the Camry, upgrade its interior, and improve its ride. All Avalons are made in the United States (Kentucky), even those exported to other parts of the world. The Avalon was the first Toyota to be classified as a domestic car within the United States.
We liked the straight-line acceleration of the first-generation Avalon, while finding the cornering ability to be far below the similarly-sized Eagle Vision and Dodge Intrepid; and while we found the interior to be surprisingly and gratifyingly quiet, the dashboard, which appeared to have been taken straight from an early-1980s Chevrolet, seemed out of place.
Indeed, the Avalon didn’t take off when first introduced; it looked like a long, wide Camry, which was what it was, and the plain interior didn’t help. It was comfortable but sloppy in handling.
Completely redesigned for model-year 2000, the 2001-2006 Toyota Avalon, styled in California, took hints from the Crown Victoria around the grille, from Lincoln in the rear, and from Buick in the dashboard, dropping all visual cues linking it to the Camry. Its 3.0-liter V6 engine had intelligent variable valve timing, with ratings of 210 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm and 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway. The engine used an active mount to reduce vibration, and was hooked up to a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
The cruise control was on the steering wheel, and there was a large trip computer section in the middle of the car (optional on the lower trim line). The interior layout was completely different from the Camry. The car was an inch wider, the front seat was moved up an inch, the roof moved up an inch, and the rear seat went back and up by an inch. At the same time, the instrument panel moved up four inches. The overall effect was American-style space.
The center console included the odometer and trip meter, clock, and thermometer. The XLS added a compass, trip computer, and calendar. Dual climate control was new to the 2000 Avalon, with vents for rear passengers on XLS models with bucket seats and an optional dust and pollen filter was optional. The sound system went up to 120 watts, with a standard CD and cassette player.
The Avalon's handling was not bad, but not exceptional, either. The ride was good, with little road noise. The front suspension stuck with MacPherson struts, an anti-vibration subframe, and gas-filled shock absorbers. The rear was a dual-link setup with a subframe and gas-filled shocks. Both front and rear had 0.67-inch anti-sway bars. The body was stiffened as well.
Second-generation Toyota Avalon safety features included skid control and traction control; skid and traction control used the brakes to reduce tire slippage. The optional Brake Assist detected emergency braking and added line pressure.
Other safety touches were enlarging the rear-view mirror and engineering the body to absorb energy, with energy absorbing material in the roof rails, front pillars, and center pillars.
Changes to the body helped reduce wind noise; injection molded rocker-trim and a foam underbody coating prevented “stone pecking” noise.
Comfort and convenience features include:
- Illuminated entry system
- One-touch auto-down/auto-up driver's window with jam protection
- Standard universal remote garage door opener (XLS only)
- Available one-touch power tilt/slide moonroof with jam protection
- Dual double sun visors with extensions
- Front and rear cupholders
- 12V power in the center console (AC optional)
- Power door locks with auto-lock function
The standard audio system includes a 3-in-1 combination of CD, cassette and AM/FM receiver with 120 watts of power. The premium grade audio was developed in conjunction with JBL and includes exceptional high and low frequency extension and clarity. This is achieved by adopting a separate five-channel, 250-watt amplifier. The system includes 3-in-1 functions with an available integrated six-CD changer on XLS models.
A locking pass-through door behind the fold-down rear seat armrest allows long items like skis to be easily transported inside the vehicle.
2001 Toyota Avalon specifications
The 3-liter engine was a four-cam design with 24 valves; both the block and heads were aluminum.
|Bore x stroke (in):||3.44 x 3.27|
|Displacement (cc):||2995 cc|
|HP (SAE net):||210 HP @ 5800 RPM (in 2007: 268)|
|Torque:||220 lb-ft @ 4400 RPM|
|Fuel/ignition||Distributorless; multiple-point EFI|
|Fuel:||Unleaded, 91 octane; 21/29 mpg|
Brakes and such
|Front brakes||10.98” ventilated disc|
|Rear brakes||11.26 solid rear|
|Wheels||15x6JJ (Steel, XL; Alloy, XLS)|
|Tires||205/65R15 all-season radial|
|Min. ground clearance:||5.1|
|Curb weight||3,417 - 3,439|
|TRANSMISSION AND SUCH|
|Front wheel drive|
|Gas mileage (EPA)||21/29|
|Max trailer weight||2,000|
|Turning circle||37.6 feet|
|Engine oil (qts):||5|
|Fuel tank (gal):||18.5|
|0-60 acceleration||8.4 seconds|
|Shoulder Room (f/r):||58.4/58.1|
|EPA volume (cu. ft):||121.5|
|Cargo volume (cu.ft):||15.9|
|Price||$26,000 - $30,760|