2002 Toyota Avalon

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$25,845

starting MSRP

2002 Toyota Avalon

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

2 trims

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2002 Toyota Avalon review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Cars have personalities.

It’s a safe bet that most people who read about cars believe that to be true; otherwise, they wouldn’t read other people’s impressions and would base any buying decisions on friends’ recommendations or pure statistics.

Still, some vehicles hide their true natures. Take the 2002 Toyota Avalon XLS that arrived in the driveway in March, just in time for a 300-plus mile round trip to Colchester, Conn., to check out how Consumer Reports goes about doing its own auto testing.

Going by first impressions, the Avalon seemed to be a quiet servant — a capable but unremarkable means of transport.

It is that, but such a simple description does this vehicle a disservice.

In one regard, the Avalon doesn’t jump out of the crowd, tooting its own horn. Live with it a short time and you come to suspect that’s what its designers intended, seeking to produce an outstanding automobile, albeit one that’s not showy, but far, far more than merely capable.

It’s as if the designers wanted Avalon owners to be able to say to their neighbors: “Anything your car can do, mine can do better,” because that’s the true hidden personality of this vehicle.

Ask its 3.0-liter, 210-horsepower V6 for some acceleration — off the line, in a passing situation or along a highway on-ramp — and it pushes you back into the comfortable seats and does the job. Quickly and quietly, of course. And the 4-speed automatic transmission never seems to be caught out of the correct gear.

Park it next to its Toyota sibling Camry and you’re hard-pressed to see any difference in length — the Avalon is 192 inches overall compared with 189 for the Camry. And, at 72 inches, it’s only one inch wider. But the Toyota engineers have done marvels with that space. Avalon seems ever-so-much roomier. This car is all about interior space (look closely and you’ll note a bit of cab-forward design).

JBL and Toyota worked together to create a premium grade audio system with a five-channel, 250-watt amplifier. Toss six CDs into the dash-mounted changer, a chore no more challenging than feeding quarters into a parking meter, and you have the sounds for a weekend trip or week of commuting.

Our version — like most Avalons we’ve seen — was equipped with bucket seats in front and sufficient space for three in back. However, there’s ample legroom in the rear, even with the front seats all the way back. Looking at real estate recently, we spent some quality time in the rear of our broker’s Avalon, a real-life test of that spaciousness.

The extra time inside the vehicle — while not behind the wheel — allowed for close examination of fit and finish. Everything was done well. It makes for a compatible owner-auto relationship.

The Avalon’s features seem designed for ease and comfort. Each door has a high grab bar for easing one’s exit, there’s a dual control climate control system, lots of storage cubbies and cupholders (the kind th at safely hold your large coffee). For the rear-seat passengers, our XLS had a 110-volt A/C outlet that was capable of powering small electronic devices.

A locking pass-through door behind the rear-seat center arm rest allows access to the trunk or room to take long items like skis away on that weekend trip.

Only one styling feature brings a strong response. The dash design and windshield are well forward, away from the passengers, and feature an extensive digital information readout, showing time, date, outside temperature, fuel range meter, odometer, and tripmeter. People either love it or hate it.

In recent years, four friends have purchased Avalons. If this constitutes a mini-survey, the verdict is unanimous: Each calls the Avalon, “The best car I’ve ever owned.”

As for reliability, Avalons have had Toyota’s reputation for being bulletproof when it comes to repairs.

On the road, the Avalon has the smooth Japanese ride with independent suspension on all whee . Consumer Reports slots the Avalon as a “large sedan” as opposed to squeezing it into either the upscale or luxury sedan categories. And it would be our choice as the best in that large-sedan class. The opposition would include Buick Park Avenue, Chrysler Concorde, Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis and Pontiac Bonneville.

Luggage for two for a weekend away seems almost lost in the trunk. At 16.0 cubic feet, it’s the same space as in the Camry but nice and squared off.

Avalons start at about $25,000 for the XL model, just about the top end of the Camry range, and top out in the mid-$30s.

The Avalon accepts regular gas and, on our all-highway trip, returned 29.5 miles per gallon, better than the EPA-rated 21-29 mpg range.

Oh, about that personality: Call it accommodating.

2002 Toyota Avalon XLS

Base price: $30,405

As tested: $33,374

Horsepower: 210

Torque: 220 lb.-ft.

Wheelbase: 107.1 inches

Overall length: 191.9 inches

Width: 71.7 inches

Height: 57.7 inches

Curb weight: 3,439 lbs.

Seating: 5 passengers (6-passenger configuration available)

Fuel economy: 29.5 mpg

SOURCE: Toyota Motor Corp.; fuel economy from Globe testing

Likes

That digital dash, and having the trunk release on the dash instead of on the floor where it can be confused with the fuel-door release handle.

Annoyances

Passengers who don’t like it.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.8
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.8
  • Exterior styling 4.0
  • Reliability 4.8

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Most reliable car I ever own

2002 Toyota Avalon most reliable car very comfortable just got this one with a hundred thousand miles on it very low miles I customize it paint it and working to put exhaust system and flowmaster I had stock Toyota Camry v6 and a Toyota Highlander these vehicles are very reliable but the Avalon for some reason it's a little extra like it Lexus

4.7

Best Reliable Car I owned

Most reliable Car with ample leg Room, One of the few 6 Seater Cars produced and comfortable for long distance ride. With V6 Engine gives best pick up, and still the runs smooth even though its 18yrs old car. Best Value for Money.

4.6

Car was excellent until the very end

The car was excellent, I had the XLS version and it was roomy, quiet , comfortable, powerful and drove beautifully. I bought it used at 131,000 miles at 13 years old and the only issue I encountered was the “ Check Engine” light came on shortly after I bought it and the cause couldn’t be found- the first year a reset fixed the problem and it passed inspection , then when it came on again the code read that it was the O2 sensor, then a knock sensor and replacing a knock sensor seemed to fix the problem, however after passing inspection the light came on again. The next year 4 knock sensors had to be replaced and it passed inspection, but the light eventually came on again. The next year it passed inspection after a “ smoke test” showed that a hose needed to be replaced , but the light eventually came on again. The car was serviced by 3 different mechanics for the annual inspection over the 4 years I had the car . Other than that I had no major problems, just routine maintenance, until the last 3 months I owned the car: in October 2019 the battery died ( I’d replaced the battery April 2019) - I thought it was because I’d accidentally left the trunk open over the weekend and the trunk light drained the battery ) and got it jump started, but the battery died again that night. I got another jump start and then a battery test showed that the battery was 73% charged and the alternator was good. The car was fine until November when the battery discharge light came on - I made it home and called a tow truck the following morning- when the hood was popped the driver was surprised to find that the wires to the alternator had burned. I got the wire replaced ($75.00) and the car was fine for a couple of weeks when the battery light began staying on after all the other lights on the dash went off after starting the car, but after about a minute or two the light would go off. Until the first Sunday in December (12/8) 2019 when it didn’t. Monday morning the car was completely dead again and when I got it towed to the mechanic he stated that it needed a new battery .At that point I was done , after getting another battery( second 1 in a year- and I’d had to get a new alternator in December 2018) and I got a newer Toyota Camry. I am still a Toyota fan, and owned 3 Corollas - all with no issues , and ironically even with the issues with my Avalon every time, except for one, it only broke down in front of my home. I won’t entirely blame the car, because the problem was never correctly diagnosed / fixed by 3 different mechanics , and it ran beautifully, and the comfort was luxurious.

See all 32 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Toyota
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
7 years/less than 85,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12, 000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
160- or 174-point inspections
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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