CarsDirect article: Toyota Avalon vs. Chevrolet Impala

[This is actually an older article, but nonetheless here]

As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.

Original version: For 2013, both Chevrolet and Toyota brought out new generations of their full-sized models, the Impala and Avalon.  Both have near-equal performance, interior space, starting V6 prices, and even a similar green-house shape.

Completely redone for the first time since 2006, Chevrolet has transformed the 2014 Impala look and feel back to a more modern and less flat design inside and out.  While the new dashboard resounds some classic Corvette with the dual-cowl shapes, the feeling isn’t as special when considering the 2008 Malibu received such design, and may even be a reminder of a Toyota Previa van when squinting.  The exterior has a muscular front end, borrowing some Camaro cues, and a shoulder line that works up the rear fender.   Up front is an optional 3.6L direct-injected V6 good for 305hp and an EPA rated 19/29 city/highway MPG.  The base LS model comes with an EPA rated 21/31 2.5L direct-injected four-cylinder with 195hp which is surprisingly adequate and quick to respond, but it would prove less so when loaded with five passengers and the very generous 18.8 cubic-foot trunk full of their stuff.  The V6 can be had on the 2LT trim for around $30,000.

Unlike the Impala, Toyota’s Avalon sports a standard V6 throughout the range, though without the direct injection and with “only” 268 hp, and EPA rated 29/31 city/highway.  Regardless of less power, that Avalon’s weight is down by around 300lbs from the Impala, meeting or exceeding acceleration, and doing so in a more responsive way.  The reason the Avalon weighs so little is it’s smaller, mostly in the trunk region which holds a mere 16cuft.  Inside the Avalon, the measurements are close enough where neither really wins or loses in terms of space.  The dashboard goes with the quirky asymmetrical shapes the company has introduced through much of the line.  The front has hints of Scion’s FR-S sportscar.

While the Avalon has a slightly firmer ride than the Impala, and a smaller trunk, it still offers a great value as it offers the same oomph as the Impala V6 when stepping on it, while earning the same MPG ratings as the base Impala.  Avalon also offers multiple modes—eco, normal, and sport—to change how the car feels and responds for economy or enthusiastic driving.  Throw in that the Toyota can also be had in a new-to-the-model Hybrid good for 40mpg, albeit for $35,000 and a mild hit to merging performance.

My take: Alright, fine, I’m a Toyota shill.  I like the prospect of the Avalon being a better driving car than it used to be, and the better styled interior/exterior is also making me dig it.  The Impala has a large rear overhang, and the steering wheel is so dull… but hey, the Impala does strike up a good driving balance for the car it is, and it’s an even bigger step forward over its own previous self which earns some massive kudos.  Besides, Motor Trend actually found the Avalon to be too firm, and that tautness didn’t even make it handle better, per se.

I guess no matter the full-size far, nothing really floats my boat.  Being it’s been so long since I wrote this, there’s probably other points I’m missing.  Oh, and check the similarity in that roofline…


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