By Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
What was once an option at higher trim levels is now standard equipment on all 2017 Toyota Avalon.
Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-P) for short, equips the premium mid-size sedan with a suite of safety features designed to safe lives: dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high-beam, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and lane departure alert with steering assist.
I found some of them to be obtrusive, but it’s hard to argue with saving lives. And basically, it puts Toyota (and Lexus) five years ahead of the curve. The National Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have announced 2022 as an industry target for all vehicles to be equipped with this technology.
Avalon has been around for 20 years now, and there’s a reason for that. It delivers class-above roominess and comfort, but has the heart of a sports sedan. My tester was powered by a 3.5-liter, V6, DOHC, 24-valve engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift mode.
It generates 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. Its acceleration invokes a rush of adrenaline, yet still delivers a grown-up 24-miles-per-gallon EPA rating in combined city/highway driving.
Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and choice of Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes add to the enjoyment of this family sedan. My favorite, Sport mode, yields quicker throttle response and enhanced electric power-steering feel, and raises transmission shift points. On downshifts, it “blips” the throttle, as the driver of a stick-shift sports car would.
Anybody that reads these reviews on a regular basis knows I have a certain proclivity for both creature comforts – I like to be spoiled – and trunk size, so ensure my golf clubs and bags can be easily transported.
Well, I’m pleased to report, the Avalon delivers big time on both fronts.
The Avalon cabin is large, comfortable and quiet. It seats up to five adults without anyone getting smushed. And the trunk, underrated by most, was accommodating. My clubs fit easily, and my guess is four bags would fit without a problem.
Goodies included heated, leather-trimmed seats with multiple adjustments including lumbar, dual-zone climate control, navigation with seven-inch touchscreen display, rear-view camera, moonroof, Bluetooth, USB port, 12-volt power outlet, Etune premium JBL sound system with nine speakers for AM/FM/XM/CD and heated outside mirrors.
My tester cam with a Blizzard Pearl coat of paint that was accented with 18-inch gray alloy wheels, dual chrome-tipped exhaust, LED headlights and heated outside mirrors with built-in turn signals.
If you’re more environmentally conscious than moi, Toyota provides a hybrid model that is rated at close to 40 miles per gallon. There are also XLE and Limited trim levels in addition to my tester, Touring.
In addition to the safety features already mentioned, blind-spot monitor uses radar and is designed to detect vehicles in the adjacent lane where drivers may be challenged to see them. The same radar technology provides a rear-cross traffic alert that is designed to detect low-speed cross traffic behind the vehicle when in reverse.
2017 Toyota Avalon
Base Price: $37,650
As Tested: $39,134
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.