The last couple of years have brought various different sedan models to the market that now feature all-wheel drive. As there are not many still making sedans, this seems like a fitting way to give a sedan car an upgrade that will help with weather issues that many experience throughout the country, especially here in Utah.
Other manufacturers that have committed themselves to continue producing sedans such as Nissan and Kia have come out with new versions of their sedans that also are available with an AWD option.
Here in Utah, an all-wheel drive vehicle is almost a necessity as there are times in our winters that having such an option would definitely be a great advantage. It seems, however, over the past 10 or so years that when we have a snow event in the state that the department of transportation is very well prepared to handle it, getting the larger amounts of snow cleared as soon as possible.
Not like in years before that where we may have had to contend with snow on the roads for days on end and were always wishing we had opted for the large four-wheel drive vehicle. Now, having a sedan with the ability to switch to all-wheel drive would be more than enough to handle most any winter event that Mother Nature can come up with along the Wasatch Front.
We figured that getting a test week with the new Avalon AWD the first week of March would be the perfect timing to actually get into some snowy situations and really give it a good test. However, Mother Nature did not comply this year, giving us here in Utah what we would call our First False Spring with temperatures most every day of the week hitting 60-plus degrees.
This year, Toyota expects to sell at least 20% of the new Avalons with AWD included, a pretty impressive number for the first time it has been offered, again alluding to the fact that the motoring public is still interested in sedans, especially if they come equipped with this option.
The Toyota version of this system will quickly send up to 50% of the engine power and torque to the rear wheel if necessary. It uses an electromagnetically controlled drive in the rear wheels that engages and disengages in microseconds when needed, to keep the Avalon gaining the highest fuel economy as possible.
On that note, the new Avalon AWD is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 205-horsepower engine that again is designed to be the most gas efficient power plant possible. This would have been one of our only complaints is it seemed sometimes to be a bit underpowered. We did, however, manage a very nice 29.3 mpg for the week, a fantastic number for a full-sized sedan.
The new Avalon can also be had in a hybrid version that will garner over 40 mpg, and we achieved it in one a couple of years ago, or in a V-6 version that puts the power over the 300 horsepower for those who want more. These, however, are not yet available with all-wheel drive.
We have always been very impressed with the Toyota Avalon and consider it really to be on par with the manufacturer’s luxury Lexus line, offering many of the same great features we would expect in a luxury vehicle. Having an AWD option would just add one more reason to have one in Utah.
The 2021 version did not disappoint us as we did have the chance to take a much extended drive on a beautiful Saturday afternoon along with our daughter Sadie in the rear seat. Being the largest sedan in the Toyota wheelhouse there was room aplenty in the rear for her, along with the option to heat the rear seats and of course the ever-popular rear seat USB port. One can never have enough of these to keep all the phones and devices charged.
Our test ride in the limited trim did come with all the great enhancements from Toyota, of course. A huge new 9-inch touchscreen floats front and center in the dashboard, controlling entertainment, navigation and climate within the Avalon. It was always within easy reach and very intuitive to control.
Below that is an added slide drawer that allowed access to a 12-volt charger and two USB ports along with a wireless charging station for our phones. Once Toyota makes the leap to a wireless CarPlay and Android Auto system, this will be a great way to stow one’s device for the long ride.
Our favorite part of the technology package would have to be the segment-leading 10-inch heads-up display that was a standard included part of the trim. It would display speed, turn-by-turn navigation, radio channel and incoming calls, a great addition in full-color splendor.
The seats were clad in Softex and Utrasuede and were both heated and cooled up front, both of which we were able to use with cold mornings and very warm afternoons in early March. They proved to be extremely comfortable and easy to adjust with both up front being powered.
All the Toyota Safety Sense P included forward collision warning and braking with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, high beam assist and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. All great features that we are glad to see as standard in the Avalon.
The only upgrade we received was that of an advanced safety package ($1,150) which included a bird’s-eye monitor when backing, rear cross path detection with emergency braking and blind spot monitors.
The Avalon All-Wheel Drive would be a great addition for anyone in Utah as it is comfortable and capable of handling the entirety of a Utah winter.
Base price: $42,175
Price as driven: $44,725