The car above is an example of what happens when Americans take over styling duties. This is the new Toyota Avalon, recently revealed at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, and it is redesigned for the premium mid-size sedan segment.
The design of the Avalon was the brainchild of a youthful team at the Calty Design Research Inc. in Southern California and Michigan. The engineering duties were taken care by the Toyota Technical Centre in Ann Arbor, Michigan. To keep it American, assembly responsibilities will be shouldered by Toyota’s facility in Georgetown, Kentucky when the Avalon goes into production.
The brief from Akio Toyoda for the new Avalon was to have a car that is more stylish, bold, sporty exterior design and luxurious interior styling in an enhanced dynamic package.
The Avalon will be numerous structural and chassis improvements to enhance ride quality, straight-line stability and handling. Strategically placed welds, improved body bracing and high-strength steel in key areas will imbue the car with better torsional rigidity, a stiffer chassis and an optimised suspension performance.
Shoring up suspension duties are MacPherson struts with advanced valving and rebound springs for a balanced handling and agility with ride comfort. The coil spring rate as well as the front and rear sway bar stiffness was increased to rein in body roll and help body control. Even the EPS has been retuned to deliver more control and agility and stability.
There will be three drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport. Eco changes the throttle response and A/C power usage to improve fuel economy. In Sport mode, throttle response is enhanced and steering is weighted a bit more from centre. Paddle shifters offers a sportier drive while in D or S mode, the latter mode revised the throttle and helps improve shift response to maximise engine power and performance. Toyota has not revealed the engine choices for the Avalon as yet.
Toyota admits that the new Avalon is more compact than its predecessor but has better proportions and retains the same wheelbase, all the while being the lighter car. The exterior styling defines a sleek profile that helps communicate a sense of motion even at standstill. Other design highlights is the longer, sloping roofline, flared front fenders and reduced front and rear overhangs, lower vehicle height and reduced body-to-tyre gap. The Avalon will have the option of either the 17” or 18” alloy wheels.
Key exterior elements are the square Double-eyes PES (Projector Ellipsoid System) headlamps with HID and DRL, the wider front grille, LED combination tail lamps and dual rear tailpipes.
Inside, the Avalon is well endowed with rear legroom. The front seat’s hip point has been lowered by 10 mm to create better headroom. A concave dash panel design help create the impression of more space. Supple leather trims, hand crafted decorative stitching and soft touch materials add to the rich-feel of the interior. White ambient light illuminates key places in the interior for a loftier sense of luxury.
To improve NVH, sound absorbing materials are strategically placed around the cabin and body structure so it does not increase weight. The windshield and front side-glass panels uses acoustic glass to control sound intrusion into the cabin. Wind noises are reduced through the exterior cowl and louver sealing, out mirror shape and position, and wiper-blade position.
The Avalon will offer the Entune multimedia system, advanced capacitive touch switches, three-colour display screens for the multi-info display, audio/navigation interface, climate control, Display Audio system with 6.1” touchscreen are available as standard. The JBL Synthesis Premium Audio system, HDD Navigation with 7” screen, dynamic radar cruise control, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone air conditioning are available as options.
In terms of safety, the Avalon will feature Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist and Smart Stop technology brake-override system. It also gets 10 airbags, a pre-collision system that sense impending frontal collision and help prevent major damage. The brake pedals have adopted a variable ratio that varies the initial and final pedal effort ratios for better brake pedal feel.
A Blind Spot Monitoring system, in addition to the rearview mirror, helps eliminates blind spots. A new Rear Cross Traffic Alert system (RCTA) alerts drivers of cross traffic when backing up.
The Avalon will be the new flagship of Toyota in the USA and will go on sale later in the year.