Ride quality is smooth and cushy in the Avalon. The suspension follows a quite conventional MacPherson-strut suspension in front with coil springs in back, and is tuned to be somewhat soft yet firm enough to avoid bounciness. The rack-and-pinion steering system is precise but light-feeling.
To go with the slightly reshaped but conservative look, plush, comfortable interior appointments and distinctive materials remain the Avalon's calling card. Accommodations have been redesigned and reconfigured, including a reshaped backseat and larger headrests. The backs eat in the Avalon has enough legroom for taller adults, with the seats themselves more comfortable than those in most utility vehicles. When the middle position in back isn't being used, a center armrest, which includes storage and cupholders, pulls down. Upholstery includes leather with visible stitching and ventilated seatbacks are included in the Limited. There's an abundance of wood grain trim inside.
As before, the Avalon comes with all the common safety features, plus a few more that are all-new for 2011. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, front side airbags and side curtain bags are all standard on the Avalon. Toyota is phasing in a new brake-override system that cuts off the throttle when brakes are applied.
Only two trims of the 2011 Avalon are offered--base and Limited--and it's the Limited model that gets some of the coolest and most exclusive features. All Avalons get dual-zone climate control, a moonroof and a back-up camera, but the Limited gets a power passenger seat, Smart Key system, rain-sensing wipers and driver's lower cushion extension (which taller drivers will find useful).
The Avalon serves as the luxury flagship of Toyota's lineup, so it loads this big sedan up with many features and options that are usually the domain of luxury brands. Expect power everything of course, but some of the most luxurious features include a power rear sunshade, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, a USB/iPod interface and a 660-watt JBL surround-sound system with 12 speakers. A newly upgraded navigation system includes more points of interest and an improved interface.