Competes with: Ford Taurus, Kia Cadenza, Hyundai Azera, Chevrolet Impala Seems like: Toyota turned the grille from a look to a frown
Drivetrain: 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 or 156-hp, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder hybrid, six-speed automatic transmission or two-speed CVT (hybrid), front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Fall 2015
Avalon 2016 Release date
Toyota wowed crowds whenever it unveiled the past version of its Avalon big sedan at the New York International Auto Show in 2012, switching the top sedan from something frumpy and boring into a classy, emotionally styled cruiser. It's the perfect time for an update, so Toyota is trotting out of the refreshed 2016 Avalon during the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, providing the vehicle a very, very mild makeover inside and out — good thing the existing model already looks appealing.
Changes are limited to new front side- and rear-end styling with a wider and lower front side grille, new turn signals and redesigned LED taillights. The changes join updated 17- and wheels that are 18-inch depending on which of five V-6 or three Hybrid trims you go searching for. The look is the exact same for the XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited trims, only changing when you choose the Touring trim, whenever that front grille and bumper are changed by a sportier version. There's also a chrome that is new bumper accent that most models now wear.
Inside, all 2016 Avalons now get gray accent stitching with the light gray interior, as the XLE and XLE Plus trims get new woodgrain dashboard trim, the 7-inch Entune Audio Plus multimedia screen and a tire-specific tire-pressure monitoring system. The XLE Premium grade now adds Entune Premium audio with navigation and Toyota's software suite, as well as Qi wireless charging as standard. Upgrading to the top-of-the-line Limited brings a lot of optional security equipment, including automated high-beam headlights, radar-based cruise that is dynamic, a collision warning system and lane departure alert.
Under the Hood
The powertrains are unchanged through the previous Avalon, with the exact same 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 as standard, powering the front wheels through a six-speed automated transmission. For the fuel-economy minded, the Hybrid version utilizes Toyota's Synergy Drive, pairing a 156-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a drive system that is electric. It employs a two-speed continuously variable transmission in place of the six-speed automatic, but still powers only the front wheels. The sole mechanical differences for the 2016 model are the change to two available suspension tunes — all models use a new tuned suspension aimed at an even more comfortable ride, but the Touring trim comes with a more aggressive suspension upgrade meant to provide a sportier driving experience.
The Avalon that is refreshed should dealerships sometime this fall.