Toyota hopes new Avalon will boost slow sales

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2012 2:12 PM
Toyota hopes new Avalon will boost slow sales

Toyota hopes that a completely new Avalon will boost sales of the big sedan.

The 2013 model, due out late this year, hits the market at a tough time for large cars. Gasoline prices are high, and traditional big-car customers have other options for spacious rides. U.S. large car sales fell 23 percent last year to 68,211, according to Autodata Corp. And Toyota sold just 28,925 Avalons.

The company, however, expects the 2013 version to sell better than its predecessor. It's got an updated look, a quieter ride and better handling.

The new Avalon was introduced Thursday at the New York International Auto Show.

UNDER THE HOOD: Toyota wouldn't say much about the engine other than it's a V-6. The company will release more details later this spring. Toyota says it improved the car's ride, handling and straight-line stability by using high-strength steel and additional welds. The car will have three drive settings _ Normal, Eco and Sport. In Sport mode the gas pedal will be more responsive, with a sportier steering feel. Eco mode changes the throttle response and use of the air conditioner to conserve gasoline.

OUTSIDE: The new car is much sleeker looking than the current one. Like many new models from other automakers, it slopes downward from back to front. It has a rounded look with creases on the sides. It has a slim upper grille and a large lower grille. The rear overhang was reduced by almost 2 inches, but the trunk capacity grew by 1.6 cubic feet to 16 cubic feet.

INSIDE: A big selling point is interior room, especially rear-seat legroom, which Toyota says is abundant. Engineers and designers worked hard to reduce wind, engine and road noise inside the passenger cabin, with sound-absorbing materials placed around the cabin and body, the company said. The car also has acoustic glass in the windshield and front side-windows to hold down wind noise.

FUEL ECONOMY: Toyota wouldn't give numbers, but said they would be excellent. The current Avalon gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.

PRICE: Toyota wouldn't give numbers. The current Avalon starts at $33,195.

CHEERS: The car looks far more modern and is sure to get better gas mileage. That's key. Sales of large cars have fallen as the price of gas approaches $4. Sales also are being eroded as small and midsize cars get features once reserved for large sedans. Potential big-car buyers also may choose crossovers, which combine traits of SUVs, station wagons and passenger cars. Those vehicles offer many seats and room to haul family gear

JEERS: The car looks similar to other models on the road today.