Review: Avalon 2014
Super comfortable, super luxurious
By Kathy Chin Leong
I think I must have reviewed over ten cars by now, so I am quite picky when it comes to luxury brands. This week I drove the 2014 Avalon, four-door Limited Edition by Toyota every day under varying conditions. Twice, I took the car to San Francisco. Once, I was caught in the rain. Several times I drove it around town for errands. Many nights I drove it in the dark.
In each scenario, it performed well on the freeway and local roads. This $42,635 model is filled with bells and whistles, and is particularly useful in the dark, a time when I hate to drive. However, if you are a scaredy cat like me, you'll appreciate my thoughts on the Avalon.
First, it has safety written all over it. And when the sun goes down, the headlights automatically come on. There are plenty of interior lights, map lights, etc. to keep me secure, especially if I have to pull over to read a map. (Yes, I am one of the few who still read maps!) Even the front row cup holders feature a lit ring around the base so you know you won't fumble in the dark.
Another nice thing about this car is that the side view mirrors do beep and light up if someone is coming up alongside you on either the left or right. This helped me in several situations. Not that I'm a bad driver, mind you, but these cues definitely helped me when I was stuck in San Francisco traffic and was looking to swap lanes in order to get ahead.
The side mirrors also have heaters in them so that snow will melt right off if you happen to be in that situation. Thank goodness I was not this past week. It doesn't snow that much in Silicon Valley as you know.
Given that the weather is now changing to become cooler, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that there are seat warmers for both the front and back seats. In the front, two people can have independent temperature settings for the seat warmers as well as for the heat and air conditioning vents.
The GPS system was kind of slow, and didn't react exactly when I wanted it to. I figure I needed more training on the GPS, so I cannot knock the features that aggressively on this first time out. The sound system on the car is amazing. I felt as though I was in a concert hall every time I turned on the radio.
And, on the topic of creature comforts, the car handles swimmingly. I felt as if I were floating at certain times when the road was smooth and when I was moving down the freeway. Seats on this leather upholstery are superior to other cars for the cushioning is extra comfortable. I wonder how they actually test this and develop the specs on car seats because the Avalon seats are the most comfortable I have ever tried. It's like sitting on a couch in a car! The front row passenger gets spoiled for the seat has automatic lumbar support and electronic adjustments as well.
While the car scores high on smooth riding and comfort and beautiful interiors and exteriors, it does not do that great on gas mileage. It does have an eco-feature that tells you when you are driving at the most efficient speed to economize fuel. I like that. The dashboard also reveals how many more miles you have before you get to empty, a super useful feature. However, at only 21 miles per gallon in the city with 31 mpg on the highway, it is not fun to have to refuel this thing weekly or even bi-weekly. (Its competitor, the 2014 Ford Taurus gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway). However, this is pretty typical for this type of high-end model and out of a rating of 10 (with 10 being the most gass efficient) it scores a 6 on fuel economy compared to other cars in its class.
If you are in the market for a luxury car, give the Avalon a try. I enjoyed the feel of the drive, the safety features, and the overall design. For nighttime driving, this one is a keeper!
Avalon Limited Edition 2014
Cost (fully loaded): 42,635