TOYOTA AVALON 2000 – 2006

2000 Toyota Avalon VXi

2000 Toyota Avalon VXi

Toyota Avalon was a failed attempt by Toyota to get into the big six-cylinder family car market that in July 2000 was totally dominating sales in Australia. To keep costs down Avalon was based on an early-1990s design for an American Toyota so it was already dated before it was launched here.

Not only did Avalon fail to gather sales, Toyota Australia found it necessary to close down Corolla production in Melbourne to make room for the Avalon. Hindsight is wonderful – telling us Australians lost interest in big cars a few years into the 2000s and these days Corolla is the biggest-selling car downunder.

Avalon’s interior isn’t quite as dated as the exterior, having some reasonably modern touches, but still doesn’t exactly sparkle in the styling stakes.

Avalon quality from the Altona factory in Melbourne was high, almost to the standards of Japanese factories.

All are four-door sedans, there’s no station wagon option.

2003 Toyota Avalon Grande

2003 Toyota Avalon Grande

To try and make up lost ground, Toyota gave the Avalon a big facelift in October 2003. It didn’t work, either visually or in the market place. So the big Toyota was quietly withdrawn from the new-car market in 2006 and replaced by a more modern car in the form of the Aurion.

Forget the negatives, Toyota Avalon is an excellent machine in just about every department. There’s good interior room and thanks to the space efficiency of front-wheel drive there’s room for three average adults in the back seat. Three kids will have room to stretch out.

Boot space is good, because there isn’t a differential sitting under it as there would be if it was a rear-drive car like the Commodore and Falcon.

All Toyota Avalons have a 3.0-litre V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission. The Avalon V6 engine was based on that of the Camry V6 of the time but has been retuned to push the torque figures further down the rev scale to give the much-loved lowdown grunt the Aussies hanker after in this segment of the car market.

2003 Toyota Avalon Grande

2003 Toyota Avalon Grande

Thanks to the local Australian engineering changes to suit this country ride comfort is good, yet the Avalon has the sort of handling that drivers enjoy. There’s plenty of input through the steering, turn-in is fast and precise and the Avalon grips the road at levels far above those ever likely to be attempted by the great majority of owners.

Even the most basic model, called the Avalon Conquest until the 2003 model change, then Avalon GXi, has enough equipment for many buyers. Top of the Avalon line is the Grande and it’s positively loaded with luxury gear, including leather trim and full climate control. There were several Avalon special editions over the years in an attempt to drum up interest, but none really did anything for the car.

Though Avalon is relatively simple in its makeup it’s probably best to leave all repairs to the experts. A good home handyperson will be able to do basic maintenance. As always, we recommend having a workshop manual standing by before lifting that bonnet.

Spare parts prices and dealer servicing are about average in cost and the Toyota dealer network is huge. Not all of the smaller dealers in the outback will have a comprehensive collection of spare parts, but can generally have them freighted in within a working day or two.

Insurance costs are usually down towards the low end of the scale, reflecting that fact that this is a car that appeals to the conservative buyer and that its Australian build means body parts are well-priced.

If you can live with the somewhat drab looks, Toyota’s Avalon provides a lot of motoring pleasure and comfort.

Normally trouble free, but have a look over an Avalon carefully in case it has been owned by a careless person.

The engine should start virtually instantly and idle smoothly from the moment it kicks over.

Automatic transmission changes should be all but impossible to hear or feel at low to moderate throttle openings.

Check the condition of the body panels for signs of previous crash repairs: paint that doesn’t quite match from one panel to another, slight ripples in the surfaces, tiny drops of paint overspray on non-painted surfaces such as the windows and trim items.

Some Avalons are used as taxis, particularly in northern areas of Australia. These don’t always run on LPG so a quick glance into the boot doesn’t always tell you a car may once have done taxi duty. Check for more than a normal amount of wear and tear in the back seats and boot.

Budget on paying from $2500 to $4500 for a 2000 Toyota Avalon Conquest; $4500 to $8000 for a 2001 Grande; $5000 to $8500 for a 2006 VXi; $6000 to $10,000 for a 2003 Grande; and $7000 to $11,000 for a 2006 Grande.

If cars haven’t been made for a number of years it’s wise to ask around your local dealers if they still carry spare parts and are able to service them.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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