I have always liked the Toyota Avalon. In fact, I used to call it my “four-wheeled guilty pleasure” because it always seemed like a car reserved for a much-older generation — a demographic that I am not yet a part of – and no one in their mid-30s would admit to secretly wanting one. Age aside, I am still a huge fan of being comfortable no matter how near or far I drive and I know that the distinguished Avalon could always get me wherever I needed to go in ultimate comfort.
I recently received the 2021 Toyota Avalon Limited AWD and was happy that I was able to experience Toyota’s near-luxury mobile once again. I say “near-luxury” because although the Avalon does give you a bit of opulence, this new AWD trim is missing one thing for it to be considered a true luxury car.
2021 Toyota Avalon has all the luxury accouterments
If you have never driven a Toyota Avalon, then I highly suggest it. Of course, I’m well aware that most budding families would rather turn their attention to an SUV like the RAV4 or Highlander, but I implore any of those prospective buyers to take a second look at the brand’s flagship full-size sedan. For starters, it has ample room for up to five people and all of their stuff, not to mention there are enough leather and power amenities to make a German rival jealous.
My 2021 Avalon Limited tester came with everything that you want from a luxury sedan, including the aforementioned perforated leather seating surfaces, full power seats, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system linked to a premium JBL sound system, and it even had a 10-inch head-up display that complemented its semi-virtual gauge cluster. In fact, it had everything you would expect from a luxury car, except it’s not a luxury car, and it was missing one major feature: a larger engine.
Power to four wheels comes from four cylinders
What makes a luxury car a “luxury car?” In the case of the Toyota Avalon, it could be the plush cabin comforts mixed with the bevy of tech-savvy features like adaptive cruise control and lane-departure assist. Or, it could be the super-soft ride and serene decibel levels that you experience no matter how fast you’re going or how uneven the roads are. Sure, all of those things equate to what one might consider “luxury,” however, the agonizing groan that you hear when pushing the gas pedal to awaken the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine does not.
That’s right, the new Avalon Limited AWD forgoes the usual 3.5-liter V6 that you’ll find under the hood of every other trim level and replaces it with a 205-hp mill that’s great on gas mileage, but not that great on acceleration. But does the typical Toyota Avalon buyer really care about gobs of horsepower and torque?
Probably not. But if you’re a near-luxury buyer in search of a near-luxury sedan, then you might miss the buttery smoothness of Toyota’s V6, which can get you up to 60 mph a lot quicker than the four-cylinder engine can. But I guess this four-cylinder engine will do.
There’s probably a good reason for the four-cylinder engine
Regardless of 0-60 mph times and big horsepower figures, there’s probably a good reason that Toyota outfitted the Avalon Limited AWD with a four-cylinder engine. If anything, it probably has to do with better fuel economy ratings from the EPA (25 city/34 highway) as well as softer starts on slippery surfaces, as we recently found out with the Toyota Camry. But does it really hinder the car from being considered a luxury sedan? Ultimately, not really. So I guess I’ll just have to call it my “slow, four-wheeled guilty pleasure.”