Power: 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6
Fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
Considering buying a Lexus ES350? Stop. Buy this Toyota instead. Made by the same company, it's a roomier car that will save you $5,000.
If you want to know why Toyota is doing so well in almost every corner of the auto industry, this would be a good place to start. The Avalon is a spacious, comfortable and capable sedan that sets new standards in the class for fit and finish and interior comforts. Heated seats are commonplace, but the Avalon ups the ante by offering cooling seats as well. Voice-activated controls? Yep. Radar-based cruise control used to be available only on cars costing almost twice as much, and yet here it is in the Avalon.
So much praise, and yet a second-place finish. What gives?
The Avalon is perfect in almost every way, save passion. It's a detached driving experience. Everything works well, but you feel the car is doing all the driving and you're merely a passenger. On the highway, you could engage the adaptive cruise control and almost curl up with a novel while the car drives you to your destination.
The Toyota provides unparalleled levels of refinement: The cabin is nearly silent, the transmission shifts imperceptibly, the steering is hyper-accurate. You can't help but admire it, but you don't love it.
True, passion is not a word you'd normally associate with this category, but it's why the car that has it takes first place.