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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Oct 26, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

By John-Fredrik Wright

This is about as nice as it gets in a Toyota. Any vehicle from Toyota that has more bells and whistles than this one probably has a Lexus badge on it. From the reclining back seats to the heated/cooled and (almost) infinitely adjustable front seats, the ride is smooth and comfortable, regardless of where you are sitting. Part of the comfort level can be attributed to its lack of sportiness. This is not a car to be racing around in. Even though the 3.5 liter, 268 horsepower six-cylinder engine kicks in pretty well and definitely gives you enough go, the car wants to cruise, not race. Consistent on that note, we didn't find the sport shift function all that sporty. Sure, the shifter lets you choose what gear to be in (perfect for hill descent for example), but if you are in a relatively high gear and choose to floor it, the gearbox will shift down and then shift for you. The computer probably figures that the driver does not know what's best, but this detracts from the whole concept of manually shifting - we want to choose! Also, we found it a little odd that the car always went to fourth gear (of six) when the shifter was put into manual, regardless of whether the car was at a standstill or on the freeway.

The Limited comes with a nice sound system that might not be the best there is (think Lexus with Mark Levinson or Audi with Bang & Olufsen), but you are sure to enjoy your music through the twelve-speaker, 360 watt system. As stated before, this car is perfect for road trips. And like all good cruisers, is equipped with a very capable cruise control, Toyota's DLCC (Dynamic Laser Cruise Control). Besides functioning as a 'normal' cruise control (e.g., holding the vehicle to a set speed), it can also be set to keep a predetermined distance between you and the car in front (up to three different distance settings are available). This function works well on the freeway, and it's perfect in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, in city traffic, the system is a little too quick to respond, sometimes jumping on the brakes instead of just letting go of the gas and slowly backing off after someone jumps in front of you. All-in-all, though, it's a pretty cool system. Another system of interest is the EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), which parcels out the 'brakeforce' so that the wheels with the best grip (at that precise moment) get the most force to their respective brakes. While on the subject of braking and traction, the Avalon Limited is also equipped with Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control. Last but not least, in the cavalcade of systems surrounding the 17-inch wheels is the Direct Tire Pressure Monitoring System, which can be an especially good thing in light of the fact that most people don't pay any attention to the tires until they are almost flat.

The luggage space is more than adequate for road trips and for hauling all the usual junk around town. Even though you might not want to, you can probably fit a bicycle in there - definitely your multiple set of golf clubs. When driving a car for review, we like to try loading it up with four or five people and see what sort of comments or complaints arise. It's not really surprising to report that there weren't any negatives, just a general feeling of satisfaction. Typically Toyota. One doesn't expect the styling of a Toyota to be that extreme, and the Avalon is about par for the course. There is nothing that sticks out, nor is the car an understatement. It is, quite simply, a good, solid, well-equipped, ultra-reliable family sedan, that in some circles would be called a luxury.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT It's the Toyota of all Toyotas. For more information about Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Toyota Avalon Limited Price: $27, 945 (base XL) $35,285 (Limited) EPA gas mileage (city/highway/combined miles per gallon): 19/28/23 Engine: 3.5 liter DOHC 24-valve Dual VVT-i V6 Horsepower: 268 hp @ 6200 rpm Torque: 248 pound-feet @ 4700 rpm Transmission: 6-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) and sequential shift Drive configuration: Front engine, front-wheel drive Steering: Engine speed-sensing variable-assist power rack-and-pinion Suspension: MacPherson strut front suspension with offset coil springs and stabilizer bar; dual-link independent MacPherson strut rear suspension with offset coil springs and stabilizer bar Brakes: Power-assisted with 11.7-in. front ventilated disc/11.1-in. rear solid disc with Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires and Direct Tire Pressure Monitoring System Dimensions: Length: 197.6 inches Width: 72.8 inches Height: 58.5 inches Curb Weight: 3610 pounds

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