I lived with a Mazda Miata for a week, and then stepped into this Toyota Avalon.


What a contrast.     The Avalon is sofffft.


And hey, that’s not a bad thing.    There’s a place for soft.


I remember taking my wife on a quick hour’s ride up the road in a Jaguar F-Type…one of the sexiest, best sounding and better performing cars on the road.   We got there…got out….and I said something like “WOW….that was great, wasn’t it?”


She simply got out stiffly and said “No.”     Seems its one thing to wrap your hands around the wheel of a high-performance vehicle…..and quite another to be a passenger.


Soft and quiet has its’ place.    One of those places is in the passenger seats.    And that’s where Toyota’s Avalon really shines.


No matter which version of what many call this “Lexus for Less”  you choose, Toyota’s Avalon will give you ample room for five and a whole lot of  gear.


Even the base “XLE” Avalon delivers heated leather seating, alloys, a Smart Key, Toyota’s Entune audio and pre-collision, pedestrian and lane-departure warnings and auto high-beams.   And space.    And comfort.    All for a window sticker under $35,000.


From there you an step it up in $1,000 -$2,000 increments and add a moonroof, premium audio, wireless phone chargers, blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts, ventilated leather and more….all getting you to that “Lexus-Like” level of luxury, but still keeping the price in the high $30’s or low $40’s.


Even the Avalon Hybrid can be purchased in the low to mid $40’s if you’re so inclined.


Propulsion comes from Toyota’s now almost iconic 3.5 liter six….an engine that’s been used over the years in a large number of Toyotas as well as Lexuses.     Horsepower?   Enough to spin a wheel.  268 HP, to be exact….running through a six-speed automatic.


Mileage is rated at 21 city and 30 Highway…which pretty well matches what we got on our week-long test drive.   The Hybrid, tho’, is rated at 40 city and 30 Highway.


And in this age where we’re almost being forced into distracted driving with more and more functions being located within the center screen, Toyota deserves kudos for relatively simple radio controls.


Most manufacturers dictate that you arrange your station selections by “source”….AM, FM, or Sirius…making it necessary to spend an extra second or two not looking at the road when changing stations.


Toyota, instead, let’s you select 36 pre-sets….allowing you to group your favorites by format….regardless as to the source.  You can have all your AM / FM / Satellite Sports / News /  Talk / Business favorites on one screen….your rockers from Sirius and FM on another.  Small thing, perhaps, but anything that cuts down on distracted driving is going to save lives…..maybe even yours.


So, if comfort, quiet and space are priorities for you…and you don’t want to break the bank…Toyota’s Avalon might be worth a look.   And just consider KBB’s consistently high reliability ratings to be a bonus!

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