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1999 Toyota Avalon REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

Con: A lack of interior room and out-of-date styling.

Pro: It's Toyota's version of a Buick LeSabre but with front-wheel drive, improved fuel efficiency, and better build quality.

What’s New: After a body makeover and safety improvements (side airbags) last year, the Avalon heads into '99 with only minor updates. Daytime running lights with auto-off color-keyed foglamp covers and dual heated color-keyed power mirrors are new this year. A new three-in-one ETR/cassette/CD sound system is optional on the XL model and Lunar Mist Metallic replaces Golden Sand Metallic.

Review: With the Avalon, Toyota takes on a traditionally Detroit-dominated section of the marketplace-the full-size sedan. The last assault Toyota made on a domestic market was in 1993, when the T100 pickup was introduced as an alternative to big trucks from Ford, GM, and Dodge. The introductions of the 1994 Dodge Ram and the lack of a V8 in the Toyota conspired to keep sales to a minimum. We think the company has learned something from its experience with the T100.

For instance, the Avalon's V6 is a powerful motor allowing the car to compete with GM front-drivers, like the LeSabre and Bonneville, in acceleration. Handling is on par with the Bonneville SSE, and braking is outstanding.

Inside, the Avalon is noticeably narrower than the domestic competition, but six will fit in a pinch when equipped with the optional bench seat. The rear seat is exceptionally comfortable, offering more leg and foot room than bigger sedans, with good support and a high seating position.

Front seats are comfy as well, and face an ergonomically designed dashboard that places everything right where you expect to find it. The styling is generic, with oversize headlights and a narrow grille imparting an out-of-balance appearance to the front end. Of course, if this car is truly trying to compete with domestic sedans, this styling is right on the money.Overall, the Avalon impresses us as an excellent alternative to aging and aesthetically impaired offerings from GM and Ford. Chrysler's new Concorde sedan is a better value, but the guaranteed quality of the Toyota is probably worth the extra couple grand.


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