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Toyota Avalon Limited vs Lexus ES 350
Before buying an Avalon Limited, I looked at and ruled out both the 2006 ES 330 and the 2007 ES 350 for different reasons. The 06 330 has a much smaller, less fuel efficient 6 cyl. engine than the Av, while the 07 350 has essentially the same engine as the Av. Both Lexus models (330 & 350) are smaller than the Av, inside and out. The Av compares in size to the LS 430, the Lexus flagship. And in fact, some car magazine reviews have described the Av Ltd. as a "poor man's LS 430", and a car that offers 85% of what the LS 430 offers. (If you can overlook the absence, on the Av, of the Lexus badge and the V8 engine of the LS 430, you can argue that the Av seriously rivals the $60,000 LS 430 for a whopping 45% less, approximately, in MSRP). As for the comparison of the Av Ltd. to the ES 350, you'd have to order the ES 350 with a $2500 "Premium Plus" package (boosting its total MSRP over $36,300) to get that car with heated/ventilated leather seats, driver's seat cushion extender, and rain-sensing wipers, all of which are standard on the Av. Ltd. Even then, your ES 350 still wouldn't have the power rear sunshade, wood-trim steering wheel, HID headlights, and a 12 speaker premium sound system that are all standard equip. on the Av Ltd. At Lexus, those items are either additional cost options or are only available as part of a much more expensive option package on the ES 350. In fairness to the ES 350, it does come standard with electronic stability control (optional on the Av); a power tilt/telescope steering column (these are manually adjustable on the Av); and knee airbags for driver and front seat passenger (only a driver knee airbag on the Av.) You will likely find that Toyota dealers will be willing to offer you a MUCH more substantial discount on the Av Ltd. than you will get on the ES 350. In May 2006, I was offered 11% off list on a 2006 Av Ltd. and 19% off list on a brand new 2005 Av Ltd. Try asking for discounts like that at a Lexus dealer! (In fact, my local Lexus dealer offered me, as a return customer, only 5% off a 2006 ES 330, a model which they needed to unload quickly to make room for the new ES 350 models arriving - (so much for "customer loyalty & appreciation" discounts - that discount was almost insulting!) With discounts over 10% at Toyota, one could add on the electronic stability control and laser cruise control options (together they add about $1250 to the list) and still come out thousands below a comparably equipped ES 350. That's my take on the value proposition represented by the Avalon Limited - and, more importantly, I love the car, too! Given all these facts, what makes the ES 350 seem like a preferred choice/better buy in the view of its owners & admirers?