Thursday, April 10, 2014

Toyota Avalon: 4th Version

Toyota has been marketing its Avalon series in the United States for 20 model years, starting in 1995.  The 2013 version is the fourth major revision of Toyota's top-of-the-line model (Lexus is a separate, luxury brand, while Avalon is a Toyota).  Toyota has always taken care to maintain visual distinction between the Avalon and Camry, its closest cousin.

Toyota has been criticized in recent years for featuring bland styling, so recent redesigns indicate that the firm has reacted to that complaint.  In the present post, I discuss the Avalon's new styling.


Even though its large wheels and their openings offer some relief, the Avalon looks massive.  This is in part because it has a large greenhouse and a pure (by current standards) fastback shape to it.  Adding to the effect is its rather stubby hood and the placement of the front wheels immediately in front of the front doors.  If the wheels were, say, even six inches (15 cm) farther forward and the hood lengthened accordingly, the visual bulk from the greenhouse and rear fender panel would have been reduced.

Unlike many current designs, the Avalon's sides have restrained character line sculpting: a strong line and subtle adjoining scallop near the top of the fender and a fairly subtle rising crease towards the bottom.  The grille / air intake ensemble follows current Toyota practice in that there is a narrow, chrome-enhanced slash along the top that includes the Toyota symbol in the center and which merges into headlamps on either side.  The main air intake is something of a fish-mouth decorated with horizontal bars.  Nothing intrinsically wrong with this concept, but I would have made it less tall.

This profile view further illustrates the fastback styling and the too-short front end.  Designing the transition from the front end to the fender is more difficult than one might think, but I will criticize the curve at the front of the fender: it makes the front end seem even shorter.  The front end aside, the rest of the car looks good in this image.

The Avalon's rear is less cluttered than those of other recent designs.  The shape of the tail lights is less arbitrary than on many other new cars.  Note how the curve along the upper edge of the windows is picked up by the front edge of the tail light assembly and then continues around into the rear impact area.  Then the cut-line separating fender sheet metal and the bumper cladding is continued along the lower edge of the tail light assembly.  What I don't like is the semi-trapezoidal license plate zone and the chrome glob atop it.  Yes, there is a mild visual linkage to the matte-finish panel by the exhaust pipes, but a rectangular license plate area would have been less disruptive.

At the front of the car, on the front fender can be seen a lump that's part of the headlight housing.  I suppose this is to enhance visibility of the turn signal lamp, but it disrupts the flow of the surfaces.

No comments: