Oh, the Toyota Avalon!
What is there to say about this car, other than it’s supremely comfortable and almost devoid of personality?
That said, comfort is a pretty big deciding factor for a lot of folks shopping for a car. And comfort goes hand and hand with a quiet ride. What’s the point of insulating the driver from road imperfections if wind noise and ambient sounds are a constant issue?
We decided to take the Avalon in for a mechanical exam, and here’s what came out of it.
Under the hood
The Avalon isn’t hiding anything too flashy under its hood. The only engine it offers in Canada is the tried-and-true 3.5-litre V6 that delivers 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. Even though it has proven very reliable, this engine has a few drawbacks.
First, the three cylinders pointing toward the vehicle cabin are hard to access, which means that a simple procedure such as replacing the spark plugs could be more complicated than necessary. The caps on the engine valves have a funny shape because they’re designed to make way for oil supply hoses used to regulate the variable valve timing system that Toyota calls VVT-i.
Another unusual feature is the little pipes coming out of the air intake box. These pipes are used to calculate the difference between incoming air pressure and the vehicle’s actual needs, and then to adjust air flow accordingly. Most contemporary vehicles have been using this kind of system for years, but they’re usually more discreet or have been replaced by more modern sensors.
The Avalon uses an oil filter cartridge instead of changeable oil filters.
The Avalon has a reputation for being quiet, and it’s easy to understand why. When you raise the vehicle, you can’t help but notice the size of the expansion chamber. It’s massive! The purpose of this part is to diminish engine noise as much as possible. There’s even a little rubber weight attached to the exhaust line to temper vibrations during acceleration and thereby prevent noise.
One thing that disappointed us was the coating that protects the paint under the car from gravel and rust. It wasn’t applied evenly, especially around nuts.
The brakes are pretty straightforward, as is the suspension, though it seems to have been designed to eliminate vibrations as much as possible.
The rest of the Avalon shows outstanding quality assembly, like most Toyota products. Anyone who buys one of these sedans can sleep well at night; there are no unpleasant surprises lurking below the surface.
Thanks to Andy from Andy Elmaleh Mécanique for the mechanical inspection. He’s your go-to guy for general and performance mechanics in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region in Montreal.