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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The RS3200 is only applicable to the XL model. The XLS already has a superior security system so don't worry about it.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I really appreciate your participation here. You keep some of the heat off of me.
  • jeffg9jeffg9 Posts: 2
    I am going to try this one more time (the spell check changed some of the text in the earlier post)

    We are looking forward to picking up our new Avalon XLS within the next week. Options include Package 7, the glass breakage sensor, mats, etc. VSC and other safety and security features were a major reason for selecting the Avalon over other cars. In reviewing the brochure we saw reference to the VIP 3200 (or is it 2300?) option but have been unable to get any details. Can someone please provide info on the following:

    What is it its purpose?
    What are its pro's and cons.
    What does it add over the standard equipment on the XLS?
    Is it dealer installed or should it have been ordered from the factory?
    What is reasonable for wholesale and retail cost (it does not appear on KBB or any other web site that I can find)?


    PS - Thank you to all of the contributors to this message board. You have been a valuable resource in our car selection process.
  • I just bought a 98 XLS which comes with leather/power seats. Like Joel, I too am unable to find a comfortable seating position with the Avalon. I'm confused by the fact that I can't get comfortable and am afraid I maid a costly mistake.

    I am 6'2", so I'm not all that tall. I wonder if the Avalon was built for someone < 6 feet tall. Anyone out there able to get comfortable in this car taller than 6 ft?
  • rzepa2rzepa2 Posts: 24
    Did anyone find a good seat covers ?
    I am concern w/r to the placement of
    the side airbags. Does anyone make
    such covers that are non-intrusive
    w/r to the side airbags ?
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    Cliffy, I thank you for your remark--but in truth, you do far more for us than we do for you.
    Besides, I truly believe that much of that "moanin' and groanin" by you know who is really nit pickin' and little more. It really ticks me off!
    One of these days we'll fly over to Shenandoah Valley Regional (Just outside of Staunton), and look you up--It's one of our favourite stops in the USA, and about 2 hours' flying time from here..
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    If you want to see an interesting bulletin board that actually endeavors to solve problems by group effort, check out

    Also, if you are interested in fishing, come on out this spring. You name it and VA has it and I've got the boat to get there. I've taken more than one TH participant out and I'll open that invitation to anybody here.
  • jimcarrjimcarr Posts: 37
    I owned a 98XLS for two years, traded it in on a 2kXLS and never had a problem with the front seat comfort. I am 73 inches tall and weigh 265 pounds. Just keep adjusting the seat and you will find a position that will satisfy your aching back. It may take a while, but it is there.
  • Hi! I have test driven 2 avalon's and I LOVE THEM!
    My husband wants us to look at the highlander. I say will be too expensive < no discount off list>
    I have never riden in anything like the avalon. Is there anyone out there who can justify spending $30,000 on a avalon ?? Thanks
  • I forgot to add one thing, my husband has a bad back - herniated disc right now. Anyone have problems with the seat of a Avalon ? He likes his GMC truck to get in and out of because it's up higher off the ground. Thanks again.
  • rcoosrcoos Posts: 167
    I'm thinking about purchasing either a Avalon XLS or the Lexus ES300. I hear that the Lexus will be a new model for '02.

    Please give me your opinion on the two cars!

    Thank you,
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I spend 30 to 45 minutes with my customers finding out what really meets their needs so it really isn't possible to cover all the differences between the two cars and how they meet your individual needs.

    In general, the Avalon is going to give you a lot more room with nearly the same level of amenities for less money. It will not have the status of a Lexus, nor the warranty.

    Drive them both and see what suits you.
  • You don't have to spend 30K for an Avalon. We have a 99 XL and I know we didn't pay over 25K.
    We went back to the same dealer last Sunday and were offered a deal of 24,500 out the door with my trade of a '93 Mazda 626 for a 2001 XL. Since they now add a destination charge they will offer free lifetime tire replacements to make up for it. We are thrilled with our 99 XL and felt the XLS wasn't worth the extra.
  • thank you for the advise! I know I don't need the 30k avalon. The 25k avalon will ride just the same !! < or less> as you stated. Does your husband like the avalon too? Is it too small for him or hurt his back? I would be interested. Thanks Barbara
  • My father has a 2000 Avalon XLS with leather seats. As he is 79 years old, I am often called upon to drive him about. I have probably put more miles (@4000 miles) than has he. Simply put, the car drives wonderfully. It is by far the smoothest, quitest car I have ever driven. I have been considering the Avalon for several months but prefer the XLS and am reluctant to open my wallet quite that wide. I am 5'7" tall and unfortunately have arthritis of the spine. Like an earlier post, I too have had difficulty finding a comfortable seating position. In my case, given my short torso, the headrest is too high to provide support of my head. Were I a few inches taller it would seem to fit perfectly. Recently I sat in, but did not drive, an Avalon with cloth seats. I was surprised that the cloth seats seemed to provide support that, for me, was lacking on the leather versions. For those who may not be able to find a comfortable seating position, you might try both the cloth and leather versions.
  • I am considering an Avalon XLS, but cannot find a SINGLE one (with bucket seats) in Texas without leather seats. This is unbelievable to me- they ought to just make leather standard in the XLS. I don't want to pay $30K for this car. It looks like I have to order one from Kentucky to get fabric seats.

    Also, the regional distributor, Gulf States Toyota, adds on all kinds of questionable packages to all Avalons whether you want them or not, totaling close to $1K. Does anyone know how to avoid these extras?

    Also, does anyone know why a rear spoiler is only available in the Southeast states?

    I've only purchased Hondas before, where the purchasing is SO MUCH easier- just choose DX,LX, or EX and your transmission and engine preference and you're done. No option packages, no distributor add-ons. Seems like buying a Toyota is a more frustrating experience already!

  • The fabric seats are very comfortable. I am 5'9 and my husband is taller. He loves the Avalon as much as I do. The only extra we added was keyless remote. I think the only extra tacked that was already on the car was Toyoguard (about $300) and probably floor mats. All of the Avalons I have looked at recently had very little extra added. We live just outside Tampa, FL so can look in our town, Tampa, St. Pete, Lakeland and as far as Orlando if we needed to. My husband called around and got prices then brought it back to our dealer of choice. They are more than willing to match it.
  • I recently purchased a 01 Avalon for myself while my wife is driving her 98 Volvo S70 GET. The car comes with several minor defects: noise on window, missing coin holder and one under inflected tire, etc. However, I still think that Avalon is probably one of the best car for under 28K for those who prefer Japanese. But it's no way a "perfect" car. Volvo is much better built with a solid feel and high quality material. It has also better steering and roan feel, though not as quite as Avalon.

    My feelings is that Toyota is a pretty much a "domestic" car now in term of quality. I will probably not buying another Avalon again because it is somewhat disappointed.
  • rzep22rzep22 Posts: 6
    I also test drove the S70 (1998) before buying 2001 L.

    I loved the breaks and seat comfort in Volvo but the interior size
    and quality issues shifted me more towards Avalon. Before making my
    decision (and before test driving), I followed discussion boards here and
    S70 for ~3 weeks. have read (from) many more dissatisfied people with S70
    than Avalon. Furthermore, since both dealerships are close to my house, I visited
    them both over the weekend and while Volvo had between 10-13 off the
    lease 1997-1998 I 70, I could not find one 2000 Avalon while there were 4 1999
    Avalons and below at Toyota.

    For 3-4K extra I got brand new 2001XL as opposed to 1998 S70 with 35-40K on it.
    Also, lets remember VOLVO=FORD.

    One car (in the price range/class) I would choose over Avalon would be something
    similar to 1998 3.2TL. I test drove that car as well. I loved the handling/steering/brakes
    etc. However, little too small and I simply dislike the 1999 and above outside appearance.
    The 1999+ almost looks like accord. The 3.5 is out of my price range + I dislike it as well.

    Finally, three days after the purchase, my 2001 Avalon developed slow trans fluid
    leak. I took it back to the same dealer (yes, it makes a difference where you
    take the car to get fixed and where you buy it) and within an hour some bolt was
    tighten and no problems ever since (over a month).
  • 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!

  • 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

    (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.
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