The Toyota Avalon is a uniquely American project, including ex-GM engineers. The goal was 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 — where the Camry is usually considered large, though it is seen as merely mid-sized in the United States. The Avalon was the first Toyota to be classified as a domestic car within the United States, by CAFE standards.
Our experience with the first-generation Avalon was limited. We liked the straight-line acceleration, 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.
Completely redesigned for model-year 2000, the 2001-2006 Toyota Avalon was styled by Toyota in California. It took hints from the Crown Victoria around the grille, from the Lincoln in the rear, and from Buick in the dashboard, while dropping all visual cues linking it to the Camry. It had a single engine, a 3.0-liter V6 with Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i) for high fuel efficiency and lower emissions, with ratings of 210 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 220 lbs./ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. Estimated fuel economy was 21 mpg city and 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 instrument layout was completely different than the Camry.
The width increased by an inch, 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 is American-style space; not quite Intrepid, but Impala size at least.
The center console included warning lamps, the odometer and trip meter, clock, and outside temperature. The XLS version included 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. An integrated 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 still reflected its Camry base: not bad, but not exceptional, either. The ride was good with little road noise.
The front suspension remained with independent MacPherson struts, including 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.
Independent MacPherson strut front suspension and independent dual-link rear suspension with MacPherson struts were complemented by increased body stiffness and refined tire and suspension tuning. The comfortable ride of the second generation Avalon was accompanied by better cornering - admittedly still not top of class, but a far more acceptable compromise given the gentle ride.
Second-generation Toyota Avalon safety features include skid control, traction control, and Brake Assist is available as an option on XLS models. Vehicle Skid Control, or VSC, utilizes the braking system to help the driver maintain control in adverse driving conditions. The system’s traction control feature helps reduce tire slippage during acceleration. The Brake Assist feature detects emergency braking and applies supplemental line pressure to help maximize the effectiveness of the Anti-Lock Brake system (ABS). The rear-view mirror was also made larger. The body design helps absorb energy along predictable paths, helping to lessen intrusion into the passenger compartment. Within the vehicle, there is energy absorbing material in the roof rails, front pillars and center pillars; and an in-trunk release handle for 2001.
The Avalon's cab-forward styling, steep windshield angle, rounded A-pillars, thicker glass, and recessed wiper blades all contribute to a significant reduction in wind noise. The Avalon uses injection molded rocker-trim and a foam underbody coating to help prevent "stone pecking” noise.
The Avalon XL has a trip meter, clock, and thermometer in the instrument panel; the Avalon XLS adds a compass, instant fuel economy, average speed, average fuel economy, trip time meter, fuel range meter, and and calendar. A dual climate control system provides independent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) temperature adjustment between driver and passenger. On XLS bucket seat models, the system includes ventilation outlets for the rear seat occupants. Standard on the Avalon XLS, and available as a dealer-installed option on the XL, is an HVAC-integrated micron dust and pollen filter system.
Other 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
- 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.
Further comfort and convenience features include front and rear cupholders, the large center console bin includes a 12-volt power point and a socket is incorporated for easy charging and storing of a cellular phone. An optional 115-volt A/C outlet - - capable of powering small electronic devices - - is located behind the center console on bucket seat models and on the instrumentation panel on bench seat 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
Four-cam, 24-valve, multi-point EFI, aluminum block and heads
|Bore x stroke (in):||3.44 x 3.27|
|Displacement (cc):||2995 (3.0 liter) V6|
|Valve Train||Four-cam, 24-valve, VVT-i|
|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|
|Front brakes||10.98” ventilated disc|
|Rear brakes||11.26 solid rear|
|TIRES & WHEELS|
|Type & material(std):||Steel (XL)/Alloy (XLS)|
|Tire Size (std):||205/65R15|
|Tire Type:||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|