In the 1998 movie Pleasantville starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire, everything is perfect, even if it is in black and white and all you see are Caucasians. Nothing goes wrong until reality sets in, but in an effort to keep reality at bay, the town folk stand their ground – when they really should be sitting in a nice big luxurious car and let the feeling inside stay toasty and swanky while everything else gets real outside the solid metal frame.
When I think of big luxury, a la the Lincoln Town Car or the Buick Park Avenue of yore, I think of the Toyota Avalon. No question, this is a Large Car, and it’s even considered one by many accounts (though some reviewers compare it to the Dodge Charger or Chevy Impala, which I don’t get). This is also a large smooth luxury car, intended for those who really would like a nice hot bubble bath instead of the best new mix from the DJ at the hot new club downtown. Everything about the 2016 Toyota Avalon is smooth, just like your first Hendrick’s martini after you’ve had your tonsils removed. There is nothing jerky about the Avalon unless you put a jerk behind the wheel. There is a bit of a Tony-the-Tiger roar if you so desire, but the feeling you get from every seat in the house of Avalon is …. ahhhhhh!
Starting at $32,000, the luxury is omnipresent. Power moonroof, power seats, power accessories, leather, leather, leather, just like the old days when expensive cars came standard with a martini shaker and dispenser along with a record player for your 45 RPM records. Okay, so you can’t drink and drive anymore (legally) and you don’t need your little records to go with you everywhere, but you can still enjoy that feeling of being a grown-up in a grown-up car that can help you feel like the rest of the world is just not as smart as you are (we’re talking about you, white rural America who voted for Donald Trump).
Mileage for the 2016 Avalon Hybrid comes in at a combined 40 mpg, much better than the 21 city / 30 highway mpg you will get with the regular gas engine. Admittedly, you will pay an extra $4-$6K for the hybrid at all trim levels. If part of the appeal of a big boat / car for you is that constantly humming engine, you will be disappointed with the Avalon Hybrid. Like most hybrids, sometimes you can’t tell if the engine is engaged or not, so be sure to read what’s on the dashboard carefully.
As always, my top cautionary tale with the Avalon is to be very, very careful when you are parking. There really should be port and starboard lights to go with the blind spot monitoring (not standard on the base XLE Plus trim). Especially for you urban types (who voted the right way), you must be really careful with this car as you pull out of that tight space clearly marked for Smart Cars or electric cars.
Maybe a big boat like the Avalon says to you and your friends that you just aren’t senior enough to get a car so 20th Century / Fantasy Island / Love Boat. But as someone who watch the original Batman TV series live on a black-and-white Motorola, this is the kind of car to which I have always aspired. Further, I feel it’s about time that I can drive a big boat like the Avalon while blasting The Archies’ Sugar Sugar from the eight-speaker system inside the first-class cabin.
But to be sure, I’m still holding onto my senior bus pass. Indeed, the next four years will be rough – a nice big boat, leather, martinis and The Archies may not be enough.