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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier

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  • I know some of you Toyota lovers (not that that is a bad thing - I am partial to them myself) may not believe this but good as the Avalon is, there is another car out there that many of you, particularly those of you as frugal as am I, might wish to take a look at. It has nearly everything that the Avalon XLS has but is often discounted and can be bought for @$10,000 less. Before I name the car, let me be the first to say that my initial reaction was as predictable as most of yours will be. Just go look at the car. I am talking about the Hyundai, yes HYUNDAI, XG300. The engine is not quite as strong at 192HP and the depreciation has been historically terrible, but it is a very handsome car with nearly everything on the XLS offered as standard equipment. Though early Hyundai products were notoriously bad, every major publication - Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Road & Track etc. have commented on the far better quality of these cars of late. Just days ago I got this months Consumer's Report magazine and another Hyundai product, the Excel, was picked just behind the Civic and ahead of the Corolla and the Cavalier. Other than price, another reason that I have to consider this car is the 10 year/100,000 mile Powertrain warranty and the 6 year/60000 bumper to bumper warranty. The sticker even lists a rental car should your XG300 require repairs. I have been leaning toward the Avalon for months but, given all of these reasons, and the strong consumer satisfaction I have read about, particularly on the Edmunds Sonata posts, I cannot help but contemplate the XG300 similarly equipped as the the Avalon XLS that can be bought for around $22,000. NO OFFENSE TOYOTA FANS and NO I am not a car salesman - just a frugal guy that wants a good luxurious car!
  • I just traded my 1999 Volvo S70 for a 2001 Toyota Avalon XL. I owned the S70 for 18 months. Although I really liked my Volvo, and will remember it as one of my my most favorite cars that I've owned, it turned out not to be very reliable. I have to say that the types of reliability issues are very well documented on this and other bulletin boards/chat rooms. It still didn't make it any easier to live with. The following comments apply to pre-2000 Volvos (except for the S70, now S60 for 2001) models. The Volvo S70 was a well built car. Mine had no squeaks/rattles. For its size (186") it felt like a bigger, heavier car. The brakes are very good, although I think the ABS activated too often, and the seats are incomparable for almost any size person. The steering is precise, and with a nicely sized car, made maneuverability a snap. BUT, the Volvo's ride was rough, allowing almost any road irregularity to intrude into the cabin, and interior noise levels were very high. Contributing factors were, among other things, a loud engine, loud wipers, tire noise, wind noise, and "bangs" when driving over even the slightest potholes or expansion joints. The engine always seemed underpowered without the turbo, and with the turbo, had a distinct hesitation. I could go on, but overall impression is that Volvos are durable, not particularly reliable, and not refined...almost crude compared to today's cars. I think the 2000+ models are a quantum leap beyond in both refinement and performance. All models, though, in my opinion, are not worth the price of admission. If a fully optioned Volvo V70, for example, was comparably priced to an Infiniti I30, Acura 3.2 TL, BMW 3 series, it would be a bargain. A price in the mid 30's, however, is neither warranted or earned. If an S80 was priced fully optioned in the mid 30s, it too would be a bargain. A pricetag over 40K is neither warranted or earned. Volvos are a definite cut above the run of the mill, but not in league with other marques like Mercedes, BMW, and even Audi. With the exception of the S80, I wouldn't call them a luxury, or even near luxury, car either. A few comments about the Avalon, and other cars (Acura 3.2, BMW 3, Infiniti I30, etc.). They are not perfect cars, but I think they come closer to delivering what the customer wants for the price paid. I chose the Avalon because of its design (the 3.2TL felt cramped, a situation that would be alleviated if the sunroof could be deleted, and the Infiniti seats, and number of dealerships, were a problem for me). Specifcally Avalon, the steering is a little vague compared to the Volvo, although it is fine overall, and easy to maneuver. The brakes are spongy, and don't inspire confidence, although they are easy to modulate, and seem to stop the car well. I can't understand why manufacturers don't allow braking to be user selectable, like suspension, and now pedals. You should be able to select low effort, with assist, or medium, or high. The seats don't allow a complete range of adjustments, and pivot, in my opinion, incorrectly. Although good, they are not great, and not the type of seats that would be comfortable for a 10 hour drive. BUT, the ride is smooth, the car is very reliable, the car is quiet, comfortable, the mileage good, the engine great, the interior very pleasing. I could go on, but overall impression so far is that the Avalon may not be as durable, but it is reliable, and refined. And, does deliver on its promise, and therefore worth the price of admission. At this point, I am happy with my trade. One last thing, if Toyota really wants to lower the avarage age of its buyers, it should include the Avalon in its considerations. Minor improvements to braking, steering, and seats would bring in younger buyers (average age now mid 50s for Avalon). Thanks for letting m ramble.
  • rzep22rzep22 Posts: 6
    Yes, Yugo was also very cheap comparing to Civics/Corollas/VWS golf.

    Hope that Hyundai is around 10 years from now to honor your warranty.
    And even then, I rather dry my car where I need to go than back and forth
    to the dealer.
  • Hey it's worth a try. I've read the reviews you're talking about. I'm just concerned about what happens after the bumper-bumper expires, that is if you plan on driving it that long. That is why I've chosen Avalon; I keep my cars for a long time!
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    If you would like to read an excellent commentary on the infamous sludge controvorsy, take a look at The Complaint Station if you get time. I know that for the most part, this site is pretty sleazy, but once in awhile there is a genuinely good posting.
    It was posted on Jan 12, by a chap who says he is a Toyota Technician, and who identifies himself as K.Lee. His thoughts on this subject are really worth seeing.
    Let me know what you think.
    By the way, I checked out that Tundra Topic you recommended---it's outstanding! Thanks.
  • Like Cliffy, I am a large dealer but I am in Southern California. Am also on a few other Town Hall Discussion areas as well. My specialty is order-building Avalons for folks just the way you want them! And, I am just a fraction over invoice for the cars I have in stock.

    I have often built cars for folks who wanted XLS'es with cloth, or even w/o moonroofs... or XLs with the sunroofs. If it's available with Toyota, I'm all ears. Just shipped a special one to Utah, and am constantly building unusual cars for Avalon seekers!

    My usual stock cars are like this:
    XL = GI or GK cars.
    XLS = GU or GV cars, some with moonroof, some not. We don't get a lot of VD cars here (traction/vehicle skid) but we do get some!

    -Dianne
    dianne@earthlink.net
    http://www.carsontoyota.com/master_wecare.html
  • Question for Cliffy1.
    I have a 97 Avalon XL. MSRP was $28K. I traded a 95 Avalon XL in on this and did very well at the time. The 97 does have more miles and is older now with 73K. Edmunds quotes a used car price of $11,986. I tried to trade for an Acura 3.2 TL. I had decided to move to the Acura since they have more content at a lower cost. But they offered me only 8K. They explained the low trade amount due to introduction of new body style by Toyota. They use the KBB. I know it is tough for you to say but does 8K seem like it is in the ball park on a trade-in for a 97XL? I thought that used vs. new buyer groups were composed of people with different objecives. Used buyers being those that could not or chose not to spend so much for a car. Could you explain this? I see that Camry's are holding their values better. Is this a demographic thing? Does the Avalon appeal to older buyers who have money to buy new and the Avalon is just not very attractive sitting on a used car lot. Particulartly with younger buyers who tend to be in the used car market more often? It appears that the interest in the Avalon on a used car lot may be likened to an old Cadillac or Taurus where used car buyers are concerned. Yet I see very few for sale. Is it safe to say that the Avalon does not appeal to younger and other used car buyers like the Camry. You must see it every day. My dealer says they only get about 1-2 buyers looking for an new Avalon on a given day. Is the lack of interest for an Avalon due to the low profile of the advertising and marketing of Avalons? Depreciation is an important cost of ownership and I bought Toyota since I thought that it would hold up better than a Taurus but now I am having second thoughts on my decision. What are your thoughts and experiences?
    Cliffy I would appreciate a reply. Thanks for the help.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Let me start by saying that $8000 sounds a little light but not too much. Here is what a used car manager looks at when evaluating the value of a used car. He does not look at Kelly or Edmunds. He looks at "black book" which is a wholesaler's guide, auction reports and he calls a couple of wholesalers. He also looks at what he thinks he can reasonably sell your car for, if he chooses to retail it on his lot. If he can sell it for $12000, he figures any car will take between $500 to $1000 in "reconditioning" expenses and needs to make about $2000 on the sale. Taking all this into account, he sets a value. This value normally is within a couple of hundred of what Kelly estimates. This is why they showed you that site. Neither Kelly, nor Edmunds buys cars so their figures are guesses.

    Now, lets look at your car. It has 72K miles and therefore is not eligible for most extended warranties. The miles also put it outside of the limits that many banks have for financing. This means that when he sells it, he needs to find a customer with cash or very strong credit or he must use a "secondary" lender which means very high interest rates. None of these will prevent him from selling it, but it limits who he can sell it too.

    Like I said, $8000 sounds a little light but not horribly so. Shop it around. If you live near a CarMax dealership, take it to them to see what they will offer to buy it for.
  • Thanks for the help cliffy. I think I understand the confusing world of trade-ins a lot better now. I did not know about the Black Book.
    The Warranty and credit issues are also new to me and I see how that could effect the dealers decisions.
    Conclusion: I must either sell or keep my 97XL in order to be happy with the result.
  • I've seen a number of posts about the 2000-01 Avalon XLS and problems that customers are having. Since I own one and have had most of the problems referenced on the board, I thought I'd give my two cents:

    1. Seat uncomfortable- I am tall (6' 0"). The leather drivers seat is uncomfortable in the area of the lumbar support, but only on long drives. The passenger seat feels fine. If only I could drive from the right hand side. I doubt this "problem" will ever be fixed, and haven't tried since my wife is the primary driver and she's short and thinks the seat is fine.

    2. Drivers seat pops- My dealer has ordered a whole new seat frame to address this problem. Since it hasn't been installed, I can't say yet if this will solve the problem. If your dealer wasn't able to duplicate, don't worry, it'll just get worse, and eventually, they will. :)

    3. Rattling noise from under dash on acceleration (more noticeable when cold)- this noise was coming from the steering column. Dealer lubed a part in the steering column and noise is now gone. You can duplicate this noise by stopping with engine running and slowly turning steering wheel all the way to the left, then all the way to the right, etc. (move it very slowly), you will hear noise that is identical to the noise that you hear when accelerating. Dealer also ordered a new part in the steering column (claiming that lube is not a temporary fix only).

    4. Radio volume fluctuates- Dealer has replaced radio and an amplifier, but it still isn't fixed. Dealer claims Toyota is working on TSB that will fix the problem, but no news on when it will come out.

    5. Rattle from right hand side of dashboard- I don't know what the fix was, but I know that the dealer did more damage "fixing" this problem than was justified.

    6. Wandering- when we took delivery, the vehicle wandered badly. Several alignments later, the car seems fine, but the alignment seems out (again).

    7. Driver door hard to close- I noticed that our drivers' door was adjusted oddly after we took delivery. That is, the window seal between the top of the door and the top of the car was pinching when we closed the door. The dealer adjusted the door by lowering it (slightly, so there is very small gap between the top of the door and the car), and now there is a wind noise. My advice: Leave it alone. Doors that are slightly hard to close beat a wind noise any day. Also, the drivers' door body molding (the molding mounted to the body) constantly dries out, causing a creaking noise when it is cold outside and the car goes over bumps. The dealer has ordered a new molding (it is my understanding that a new molding has been engineered for several reasons - see www.yotarepair.com.

    (has anyone else noticed any of this?)

    8. Dancing lights reflecting from instrument panel onto the inside of the windshield- if you are a tall driver (or you lift the seat up high) you may notice lights that dance across the windshield during nighttime driving or a green glow on the windshield. These appear to be caused by reflections off the instrument panel plastic lense. My dealer says that Toyota is re-engineering the dashboard/instrument panel to address this problem, but the TSB is not out yet. Supposedly, this involves extending the dashboard (top part that covers the instrument panel) and re-doing the angle of the instrument panel lens.

    Comments welcome.
  • rzepa2rzepa2 Posts: 24
    2001 XL:

    The only problem I noticed is the "reflection issue"
    on the drivers side window. Remmber reading here while ago that someone had the dealer change the angle of the dashboard etc.

    Personally, it does not bother me that much since
    I don't drive late at night + if I do, it is most of the times on illumiated streets.

    I am going to wait and see if Toyota comes up with TSB etc.

    Hey, Cliffy
    what do you guys do for people who complain about
    "relfecting" dashboard ?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I haven't had a customer complaint on the dash. I've seen it but none of my customers have complained that I know about so I don't know what we would tell them.
  • 2194621946 Posts: 5
    I RECENTLY PURCHASED A TOYOTA AVALON 2001 IN OCT OF 2000. THE AVALON DRIVES GREAT BUT I HAVE ONE COMPLAINT AND IT IS THE COMFORT OF THE DRIVERS SEAT. WHEN MY WIFE AND I BOUGHT THE AVALON WE HAD TEST DRIVEN THE XLS WHICH HAD LEATHER SEATS WHICH I HAD ONLY DRIVEN FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES. SO WE DECIDED TO GET THE AVALON XL WITH CLOTH SEATS WHICH HAD TO COME FROM ANOTHER STATE. IN A COUPLE OF DAYS OUR NEW CAR ARRIVED AND WE SIGNED THE NECESSARY PAPERS AN WERE OFF. (WE DECIDED ON THE CLOTH SEATS BECAUSE LEATHER IS TO COLD IN THE WINTER AND TO HOT IN THE SUMMER) WELL I ONLY GET TO DRIVE THE AVALON ON THE WEEKENDS BECAUSE I USE A COMPANY CAR ALL WEEK FOR WORK. WHEN I DROVE IT THE FIRST WEEKEND WE HAD IT MY BACK STARTED TO HURT AND I COULD NOT GET COMFORTABLE (THIS WAS AFTER ABOUT A HALF AN HOUR AFTER DRIVING) SO I LET MY WIFE DRIVE AND I SAT IN THE PASSENGER SEAT WHICH I FOUND TO BE A LOT MORE COMFORTABLE THAN THE DRIVER SEAT. SO THE WE TOOK A TRIP AND THIS WOULD MEAN ME DRIVING FOR ABOUT 2HOURS, WELL TO SAY THE LEAST IF PUT MY POOR WIFE THROUGH HELL COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS BACK PAIN I WAS HAVING DRIVING THIS CAR!!! ON THE WAY BACK I DECIDED TO HAVE MY WIFE DRIVE FOR THE FIRST HOUR WHILE I SAT IN THE PASSENGER SEAT (THINKING MAYBE IT WAS JUST MY BACK THAT WAS ACTING UP ON THE WAY DOWN) WELL AS SOON AS I SAT BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE CAR MY BACK STARTED TO HURT AGAIN!! SO I SAID TO MY WIFE I THINK THE ADJUSTABLE LUMBAR SUPPORT MIGHT BE CAUSING ME THIS PROBLEM AND SHE SAID WHY DON`I YOU TAKE IT BACK TO THE DEALER, SO TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT I DID AND THEY REMOVED THE LUMBAR SUPPORT FROM THE DRIVERS SEAT AND GUESS WHAT I STILL HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE SEAT!! THIS WEEK I AM TAKING IT BACK TO THE DEALER SO I CAN LOOK INSIDE THE BACK OF BOTH SEATS TO SEE IF IN FACT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO AND MAYBE COME UP WITH SOME SORT OF SOLUTION. I HAVE BEEN TO A BACK STORE AND BOUGHT A CUSHION TO SIT ON AND THIS MADE MY BACK FEEL GREAT BUT THEN MY LEGS STARTED TO FALL ASLEEP SO I RETURNED IT BACK TO THE STORE. IF ANY ONE HAS ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW I CAN MAKE THIS SEAT MORE COMFORTABLE PLEASE LET ME KNOW AS I AM HALF TEMPTED TO GET RID OF THIS CAR AND BUY SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE. MY PREVIOUS CAR WAS A 1993 TOYOTA CAMRY AND I JUST LOVED THAT CAR AND HAD NO PROBLEMS WITH THE SEATS AT ALL.
  • have found one (and only one) moderately comfortable position, but only for short trips. I have looked at a lot of other cars since my purchase to see where the problem might be in the Avalon. I think the problem, at least for me, is that the seat pivots at the frontm and does not allow a forward tilt to offset the angle of the back seat. I am 5'8". To get the seat into a position where I can see most of the speedo, and have the steering wheel in a comfortable position, I need to have the seat raised. I also like to sit upright, not with the seatback at a 30-45 degree angle. If I have the seat back straight, the lumbar support kills my back. I could offset this by tilting the whole seat forward (back and bottom). This would take pressure off the lumbar, and let my legs be straight out, without pressure underneath my knees. Many of the other cars I looked at fall into these categories (1) both seat bottom and seatback operate separately, with seat bottom pivoting towards center (2) seat bottom and back act together. Depending on the amount of fine adjustments allowed, both can work well. In designs where you can set seat back and bottom separately AND THEN move them as a single unit (tilt), I have no problems. Volvo seats are like this, Acura is close (although seats in 3.2 TL are a bit snug--sport seats--for my taste), Infiniti I30, although a bit hard, allow this fine adjustment. One other thing, Toyota Avalon does not allow infinite adjustment for tilt of the steering wheel, or have a telescoping adjustment. This would also help in finding a comfortable driving position. I took a trip to Disnet before Xmas, and rented a Mercury Grand Marquis. This car, although huge, was very comfortable because the seats had many adjustments, and although the sterring did not telescope, the pedals were movable. GREAT IDEA. I'll close by saying that I was disappointed with the Avalon for about a week after my purchase. Since then I have come to appreciate its many good points, especially quiet, smooth ride. BUT, if Toyota wants to increase sales of the Avalon, and appeal to a younger buyer they need to (1) make the brakes less spongy, inspire more confidence (2) offer tilt (infinite) and telescoping steering wheel (3) fix the seats (4) offer a bumper to bumper warranty that is better than camry, but less than Lexus--4 Year, 48K (5) alloy wheels on all trim levels (XL and XLS), with better tires for more precise handling (6) steering that is a little more precise, less boost. I think overall the Avalon is a good car, but not a great car. This design will be around till 2005, so plenty of room for improvement. If I were Toyota, I would improve what I have today, and hang the guy from GM behind a Pachinko parlor.
  • have found one (and only one) moderately comfortable position, but only for short trips. I have looked at a lot of other cars since my purchase to see where the problem might be in the Avalon. I think the problem, at least for me, is that the seat pivots at the front and does not allow a forward tilt to offset the angle of the back seat. I am 5'8". To get the seat into a position where I can see most of the speed, and have the steering wheel in a comfortable position, I need to have the seat raised. I also like to sit upright, not with the setback at a 30-45 degree angle, or more. If I have the seat back straight, the lumbar support kills my back. I could offset this by tilting the whole seat forward (back and bottom). This would take pressure off the lumbar area, and let my legs be straight out, without pressure underneath my knees. Many of the other cars I looked at fall into these categories (1) both seat bottom and setback operate separately, with seat bottom pivoting towards center (2) seat bottom and back act together. Depending on the amount of fine adjustments allowed, both can work well. In designs where you can set seat back and bottom separately AND THEN move them as a single unit (tilt), I have no problems. Volvo seats are like this, Acura is close (although seats in 3.2 AL are a bit snug--sport seats--for my taste), Infiniti I30, although a bit hard, allow this fine adjustment. One other thing, Toyota Avalon does not allow infinite adjustment for tilt of the steering wheel, or have a telescoping adjustment. This would also help in finding a comfortable driving position. I took a trip to Disney before Xmas, and rented a Mercury Grand Marquis. This car, although huge, was very comfortable because the seats had many adjustments, and although the steering did not telescope, the pedals were movable. GREAT IDEA. I'll close by saying that I was disappointed with the Avalon for about a week after my purchase. Since then I have come to appreciate its many good points, especially quiet, smooth ride. BUT, if Toyota wants to increase sales of the Avalon, and appeal to a younger buyer they need to (1) make the brakes less spongy, inspire more confidence (2) offer tilt (infinite) and telescoping steering wheel (3) fix the seats (4) offer a bumper to bumper warranty that is better than camry, but less than Lexus--maybe 4 Year, 48K (5) alloy wheels on all trim levels (XL and XLS), with better tires for more precise handling (6) steering that is a little more precise, less boost. I think overall the Avalon is a good car, but not a great car. This design will be around till 2005, so plenty of room for improvement. If I were Toyota, I would improve what I have today with these changes (and I'm sure others can suggest more changes), and hang the guy from GM that Toyota hired behind a Pachinko parlor somewhere in Tokyo.
  • My husband complains a lot about the driver's seat. I guess he's not alone...I plan to drive my '96 for a long time. I'd like it to go at least 150,000 miles. What do you all think about this?
  • jkyledjkyled Posts: 2
    I also purchased a 2001 Avalon XLS this past October with package #7. When I took my first trip that lasted more than a few hours my back became sore as well. I, however, had not adjusted the seat very much since I had purchased the car. So I played around with it and found a remedy. I am 6'1 and weigh about 190 bbs. Here is what I did. I took the seat down all the way to the floor and then tilted it back all the way. I then brought the back of the seat up more straight. I have my lumbar sticking out as far as it will go. I recently went to PA for the holidays which is a 9 1/2 hour trip and felt great. We had traded a full-sized van in on the Avalon. Those vans are supposed to be some of the most comfortable vehicles for long-distance traveling. It was comfortable, but after adjusting my seat in the Avalon I would have to say the Avalon was more comfortable than the van. I think the seat is pretty versatile. Play around with it and hopefully, you'll find the position that is best for you.

    As for the green glow on your windshield, try turning the intensity down. That takes care of it for me. I hope these remedies will work for you as they have for me.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,160
    Thanks jkyled for sharing and bringing sanity back to this forum. Since the holiday season began last November it appears that the number of complaints have increased considerably. What we have here is the herd mentality.

    I have driven my 2000 Avalon XLS for over 12,000 miles and I have not encountered any of these so called problems. Maybe these cry babies should return to the dealership for a thorough demonstration before trashing the Avalon.
  • If concerns or complaints are well reasoned, and well written, they are valid for inclusion in the forum. This is neither "herd mentality" or being "cry babies". This is how products are improved over time. I'll say again (as you can see from my previous posts) the Avalon is a good car, but not a great car. It delivers on its promise, you get what you pay for, although I think its a little overpriced, but then price is related to demand. It's too bad, because with minor changes and improvements, it could be a GREAT car. Maybe then it wouldn't be compared to a Buick.

    But, maybe you're right...silence the "cry babies", and let's just keep it a good car.
  • I am getting ready to purchase a 2001 XLS and would like to find out if anyone knows whether it is worthwhile to add the VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) option. Is it a valuable safety feature that is worth spending an extra $680 on? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
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