2017 Toyota Avalon Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

Toyota's Smart Key Overview

Stuck in bumper- to- bumper traffic on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the wheel of the 2017 Toyota Avalon. I was going to meet up with my video crew for a TV shoot at DC’s hottest new summer spot. The uber popular Game of Thrones pop-up bar, fashioned after the HBO hit show, was the talk of the town. I couldn’t wait to see first hand what all the fuss was about. As us diehard GOT fans know, (spoiler alert) winter has arrived on the medieval fantasy show. So it was only fitting I pay homage by driving the Avalon in the Blizzard Pearl special order color.

Typically, a traffic jam of this caliber would have been super stressful, but I felt remarkably calm staring ahead at miles of brake lights. My mellow mood was due in large part to the sizeable moonroof, which was allowing beautiful morning sunlight to filter into the soothing cabin.  Meanwhile, I also had everything I needed right at my fingertips, including wireless charging for my smartphone, which eliminated fumbling through my purse for the charging cable.

Speaking of smart devices, Avalon’s dash is “smart”, or at least intuitive.  There’s no intimidation, one simply touches the screen to control comfort and convenience features such as climate control and the audio system.  I especially liked the Avalon’s large physical dials offered for primary functions like raising and lowering the volume and station selection.

My tastes in music run the gamut. During that commute, I chose SiriusXM’s Channel 53’s “Chill” channel, which seemed apropos for my driving mood.  The music was reproduced with crystal clarity through the audio system’s 11 speakers, which are located in nine locations throughout the cabin-- it’s the ultimate surround sound.

 

The seven-inch touchscreen also displays controls the navigation system and a suite of cool apps-- including one that can actually order Chinese take out. These are all accessed through the in-dash, voice controllable infotainment center Toyota calls, “Entune.”  

In a world in which we’re always plugged in via our smartphones, Toyota remains in a wait and see mode regarding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A company representative told me this was a data security decision to ensure the protection of customers. For some people shopping sedans in this category, a missing connectivity link may be a deal killer. But knowing Toyota is going the extra mile to safeguard personal information could also provide peace of mind.

Arriving at the bar, while there was already a long line forming to get in, I was lucky to find a highly coveted parking space right in front. The Avalon’s backup camera helped me effortlessly guide the mid-size sedan into the tight space on the first attempt. Stepping out, I used the smart key to open the colossal trunk, which gave me 16 cubic feet of space to transport various items I needed for the day’s shoot.

Gathering them, I locked the car and did a quick over the shoulder glance at the sedan’s handsome profile. The bold grille combined with a set of 18-in. gray alloy wheels, gave Toyota’s flagship a distinctive swagger, whether on the move, or parked at curbside.

One of the highpoints of the shoot was my turn in the bar’s replica of GOT’s regal Iron Throne. As special as I felt sitting there, there was no comparison to the plush comfort I enjoyed seated in the Avalon’s plush perforated leather-upholstered throne with both heating and cooling ventilation. Those chilled seats were a welcomed relief on the humid 90-degree day.

On the mechanical front, power comes from a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, which produces 248 lb.-ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive complete the powertrain. Fuel economy for the 2017 Avalon is EPA-rated at 21 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 24 combined.

A joy to drive; the Avalon feels just right. Everything meshes in perfect harmony; from the steering to the easy shifting and confidence-inspiring braking system. Avalon also offers Toyota’s Safety Sense package as standard equipment. This includes a host of advanced features such as: lane departure alert, pedestrian warning, blind spot monitoring and radar-based smart cruise control.

 

Pricing starts at $33,300.

 

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