Test Drive: Rockin’ the Road – 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring Edition
It was a sunny day at the end of late spring when the crew from DriveShop delivered a 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring Edition to Rock Father HQ for testing. Straight-away, the Avalon is a familiar ride, one with nearly a million-and-a-half siblings sold in the U.S. since 1994 – a car that even my own father owns. In “Sizzling Crimson Mica,” the Avalon stands apart from the crowd wearing a color that’s hard to describe with its purple/red hue. Making this particular subject even more dramatic is the choice of dark grey (nearly blacked-out) 18″ alloy wheels. On the interior, it’s Almond Leather and brown accents provide a color scheme that doesn’t immediately seem to match the exterior (to me), but it works. So how does the 2016 Toyota Avalon hold up as a family car? More importantly, what do The Rock Daughters™ think of it?
Based on color alone, this Avalon was 100% Rock Daughter-approved. It’s not entirely hard to impress them with a nice shine, but the Avalon had something – but for little Finley, the cockpit was just right. She has about 12 years to go until she’ll be allowed to pilot a vehicle like this, but for now a quick picture of her “driving” is totally permissable.
When choosing a car, my major points are always Style, Safety, Function and Price – and from a driver and parent perspective, the Avalon delivers on all fronts. The cockpit is attractive and comfortable, with everything feeling proper – in the right place and a comfortable distance from the driver’s seat. The back seat is ample, allowing for two car seats without impeding either the kids in back or the grownups in front (I hate getting kicked or knee’d from behind). A pair of average-sized grownups should also be totally comfortable in the back.
The trunk on this one feels pretty sizable – perfect for the grocery runs or hauling the “stuff” that comes with being a parent. Fuel economy is an estimated City/Highway/Combined is 21/31/24, which is pretty solid in the average range for a vehicle this size, powered by the standard 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) which produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
One feature I particularly love across the Toyota brands is the available Eco, Normal and Sport modes, which enable the driver to tailor the Avalon’s responsiveness. From the spec sheet: “Sport mode revs up the driving experience by adjusting throttle response, electric power steering feel and transmission shifting – including adding throttle-blipping downshift control. Eco Mode prioritizes fuel efficiency by balancing driving performance, air conditioning function and fuel efficiency.”
On the safety front, there’s 10 airbags, and the Toyota Star Safety System that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop brake-override Technology (SST). There’s also the available Blind Spot Monitor and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control – both of which I’d want if making this car mine.
The Bottom Line: The 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring Edition scores high marks on all fronts, importantly being enjoyed by the entire family. It looks great and drives great. With the amount of driving that we do, one of the Hybrid options might be an attractive possibility, but pushing this car into the $40K range for that feature is still higher than I’d like to see it, though in future years it’s likely the hybrid technology may decrease in cost a bit. As with any family car that’s in the $30-$40K range it’s always a good idea to weigh the options of what you’re truly looking for, as that price range can also provide a nice-sized crossover with potentially more cargo space and towing capacity.