Walking up to the 2014 Toyota Avalon Limited after it was delivered for my test drive, one thing was evident, this is a big sedan. It looked like a stretch Limo the first time I saw this 2014 Avalon. The car was completely redesigned for 2013 and was upgraded with more responsive handling. Avalon has been known for its smooth ride, easy operability and roomy interior. This week we are testing a 2014 Toyota Avalon Limited ($39,650) with the Technology Package.
What’s new for 2014?
The Toyota Avalon in Limited trim remains unchanged for 2014. A rearview camera is added to the base XLE, and comes with a slight price increase. XLE Premium now offers the display audio unit with navigation and Entune Apps suite, while a blind-spot monitoring system is made optional on the Touring trim. The first impression after getting into the Avalon Limited is the premium interior that looks fit for a more upscale Lexus.
This is Toyota’s flagship sedan and it shows. Leather comes standard along with heated and cooled front seats, and heated rear seats. Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota, said he wanted to create a new passion for the brand, and he has succeeded in setting the bar high with the new Avalon. The new design gives the Avalon a much more expensive look and feel. The big luxury flagship sedan is visually striking, with cutting-edge styling you might expect from a German luxury saloon. The coupe-like roofline reminded us of an Audi A7.
Extra levels of refinement
The interior comes with a luxury-class level of refinement and comfort with upgraded hand-stitched leather that gives the feel of fine craftsmanship. Avalon sports a 7-inch touchscreen that comes with backup camera and Toyota’s EnTune infotainment system. This tester came with the Technology Package ($1,750) that included radar cruise control, auto high beam and pre collision system. In the back there is extra legroom for passengers to be comfortable.
We took two large guys to lunch and there was more than enough room for them to stretch out and relax. Avalon Limited upgrades further with 10-way power driver’s seat, eight-way power front-passenger seat, three-zone climate control, 7-inch high-resolution touch-screen audio, with navigation, Entune and JBL, JBL Premium HDD audio, color HVAC screen, Safety Connect, rain-sensing wipers, rear sunshade, HID headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, puddle lamps, ambient lighting and auto-dimming outside mirrors.
Avalon on the road
With the big sedan loaded with four people, the 3.5-liter V6 engine had plenty of power for all driving situations. The standard V6 produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque and still delivers good fuel economy considering the size of the new Avalon sedan and the power it pumps out. Avalon gets an EPA-estimated 21/31 mpg city/highway, or 25 mpg combined and it uses regular 87 octane fuel. Overall, the sedan is smooth and powerful on the highway.
Avalon feels much more solid and sporty than the previous generation. The old version was soft and much less agile than this new model. Toyota has been upgrading their entire lineup, and Avalon received more chassis rigidity that effects the overall handling response and a smooth ride. Suspension changes included new stabilizer bars and new spring rates which was evident in the lack of body roll in the tight corners in the mountains west of Denver.
The only complaint would be the electric power-assisted steering (EPS) has a little too much boost but can be overcome by shifting into Sport mode. Limited models come standard with steering wheel paddle shifters which is a welcome feature and Toyota is trying to upgrade their entire lineup to be more sporty.
The 3.5-liter V6 comes mated to a six-speed automatic that’s a bit outdated as other luxury sedans feature two more gears. But the six-speed gearbox shifts are almost completely transparent and there’s little sense of hunting even during more spirited driving. The electronic system modifies throttle, steering and gear shifts to improve overall responsiveness.
The 2014 Toyota Avalon Limited is a large sedan but doesn’t drive like one anymore. Handling has been greatly improved for a sporty feel but without sacrificing ride quality. The standard 3.5-liter V6 is smooth and powerful and the sedan is a quiet and comfortable place to escape the city noise.
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