Toyota Avalon 2004 Review
It offers good value for money and is a nice roomy family sedan.
However, its major problem appears to be that it is not a Falcon or a Commodore.
And let's face it – it's not the industry's prettiest looking car.
There are two sayings that could relate to this car: "Don't judge a book by its cover" and "It's what's on the inside that counts".
And it took a trip from Sydney to Tamworth to force one to admit, that in the case of the Avalon, these are quite true.
The top-of-the-line Avalon Grande is a bit like a Lexus. The fit and finish is Lexus-like, albeit with lesser materials but is has a distinct Lexus feel about it, and it comes with a much smaller price tag.
Travelling up the freeway to Newcastle it was surprising just how quiet the cabin is -- a resemblance to the LS430.
An accident ahead of me on the F3 forced me out of the car and while chatting to fellow motorists it gave me time to load the CDs in the six-stack changer in the boot. The crackly radio reception that was starting to grate on the nerves.
It also allowed time to reprogram the stereo settings for the best bass levels and set up the satellite navigation.
The touch-screen system makes light work of all of this.
It is funny how much you can learn about people just by getting caught in a traffic jam.
There was the clock-watching truck driver who had to get to his destination before his "wide-load" rig was no longer allowed on the road, to the elderly couple heading back home after visiting their grand daughter.
Sitting and waiting did allow time to soak in the Avalon's atmosphere.
OK, so there really wasn't much, but that is the way the car is designed: unobtrusive, not emotional, but subtly stylish. The interior is not sexy, bold, daring or even individual. It is inoffensive. The fawn and stone interior colours are designed to complement each other and suit everyone's tastes.
All dials on the dash are easy to reach and require minimal distraction – the subtle lighting completes the package.
Driving up the freeway you could almost be blamed for thinking that car was not turned on. The engine was extremely quiet and the four-speed automatic made gear changes very smooth.
However under tough conditions on the return journey a weakness was shown.
The quad-cam V6 had been a dream on the way up – smooth, quiet, willing and able. Driving back in a storm with lightning flashing horizontally in front of the windscreen and poor visibility was admittedly a tough test.
This was where the Avalon's lack of quick acceleration became noticeable when attempting to pass slow traffic on the two-way stretch of the New England Highway.
Despite dropping back a gear, the car lacked that extra bit of oomph but once back up to speed, it cruised comfortably.
However, the conditions did show the handling capabilities of the car.
The steering is light due to the soft ride but was prompt and direct enough when needed and the car did not step out of line, even in the wet.
The larger discs, standard ABS and retuned booster gave a solid feel and the twin front airbags and side bags were also reassuring. And the windscreen wipers clear the glass well, an item so often overlooked but so very important.
Range and Specs
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