In this guide, I will break down all Toyota Avalon generations, highlighting the best Avalon years to buy and the worst Avalon years to avoid.
Drawing from authoritative sources such as NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book, I’ve comprehensively analyzed data, reviews, and first-hand accounts to present an objective perspective on Avalon’s performance, reliability, and problems by year for potential buyers.
This is the only guide you need to discover the most reliable Toyota Avalon years that best to your budget and needs as well as the least reliable Avalon years with common problems listed by year.
So, let’s dive right in.
Table of ContentsShow
Toyota Avalon Generations
The Toyota Avalon, recognized for its spacious interiors and refined elegance, debuted in the automotive market with its first generation in the mid-’90s. However, as we shift our focus to the dawn of the new millennium, the second generation prominently steps into the limelight.
Introduced in 2000, the Avalon began to carve out its niche in the full-size sedan segment, boasting a more robust V6 engine, advanced safety features, and a refined design.
We’ve compiled a table showcasing its generations from 2000 to 2022.
|2nd generation (XX20)||2000-2004|
|3rd generation (XX30)||2005-2012|
|4th generation (XX40)||2013-2018|
|5th generation (XX50)||2019-2022|
The leaps between generations can significantly influence one’s purchasing decision, as the distinctions between generations could be the pivotal factor in shaping preferences.
Toyota Avalon Best, Neutral, and Worst Years
In our rankings and categorizations of the best and worst Toyota Avalon years, we rely on an extensive array of critical sources and factors. We consider:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmunds owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
Next up, a graph is presented that combines ratings from all the aforementioned sources, giving you a comprehensive insight into each year.
Following the graph, we’ve assembled a table to showcase all the best, neutral, and worst Toyota Avalon years based on extensive research.
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
|2nd generation (XX20)||2000|
|3rd generation (XX30)||2011|
|4th generation (XX40)||2016|
|5th generation (XX50)||2020||2021|
When we mention Neutral Years, it denotes model years that neither exceptionally stand out in performance and reliability nor show significant issues. They are the middle-ground models that offer balanced value.
It’s essential to understand that some factors inherently contribute negatively. For instance, NHTSA recalls heavily influence our rankings — the higher the number of recalls and complaints, the lower the perceived reliability and owner satisfaction.
Let’s dive into the specifics of the Toyota Avalon’s best, neutral, and worst years.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Avalon 2nd Generation (2000-2004)
Upon entering the new millennium, Toyota’s Avalon aimed to solidify its status as a flagship sedan in the US that merged luxury with reliability.
With the 2nd Generation, earlier – 2000, 2000, and 2002 Avalon years were received well, while later 2003 and 2004 facelift models faced too much criticism and owner complaints. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds rated this generation 4.8 which is the highest among all generations.
Loss of power steering assist and engine sludge are the common problems for the first-generation Avalon.
The Best Years: 2000, 2001, 2002
The earlier years of this generation, particularly 2000, 2001, and 2002, are the best Avalon second-generation model years.
Under the hood, these models were powered by a 3.0-liter 1MZ-FE V6 (210 hp) engine equipped with VVT-i, shared with the Toyota Camry, Toyota Highlander, and Toyota Sienna, offering enhanced fuel efficiency while not compromising on performance. Coupled with a refined 4-speed automatic transmission, it delivered a driving experience that was both smooth and responsive.
From the base XL to the upscale XLS, each trim was meticulously crafted, offering variations in luxury, technological integrations, and safety features. Consumer Reports indicated the fuel efficiency of the first generation at 13 mpg for city and a commendable 31 mpg for highway driving.
Standard features include electroluminescent Optitron gauges, 4-wheel disc ABS, front torso side airbags, and 15″ alloy wheels. Optional was a JBL audio system, Vehicle Stability Control, and a front-row bench seat, allowing up to six passengers—a characteristic of large-sized cars. Dual climate control, larger 16″ wheels, and driver’s and passenger’s power seats were also available.
Although, these are the best Avalon years, bear in mind some of these aspects below:
- The 2000 and 2001 Toyota Avalons have some engine and steering problems which are common for almost all the second generation Avalons.
- The 2002 Avalon may also have faulty impact and occupant detection sensors.
The Worst Years: 2003, 2004
The facelifted second-generation models, specifically the 2003 and 2004 Avalons, should be avoided without any doubt. Here is why:
Steering problems became a recurring theme, with numerous reports highlighting issues ranging from steering lock bar malfunctions to power steering loss. Such concerns culminated in recalls that addressed risks linked to potential crashes.
In 2010, Toyota issued a recall for all 2000-2004 Toyota Avalon models concerning improper casting of the steering lock bar which can break causing steering wheel lock increasing the risk of a crash.
2003 and 2004 Avalons also faced considerable issues related to airbags. Reports pointed out inadvertent airbag deployments due to electrical noise interference, and issues related to the impact and occupant detection sensors.
Specifically for the 2004 Avalon, Toyota issued a recall concerning the crankshaft pulley which may be defective causing the belt for the power steering pump to detach which results in loss of power steering and increased the risk of crash.
Adding to these woes was the problem of vehicle speed control, with owners highlighting unsettling instances where the car would accelerate without warning even in the parking position.
Engine sludge emerged as a significant concern. This thickening and buildup of oil, potentially disastrous for the engine, required owners to be extra vigilant about regular maintenance.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Avalon 3rd Generation (2005-2012)
Toyota, with third-generation Avalon, sought to infuse modern design elements, advanced technological features, and a powertrain that could match the expectations of the evolving consumer base.
As for our categorization, 2011 and 2012 are the best third-generation Avalon years whereas 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 are Avalon years to avoid.
The Best Years: 2011, 2012
2011 and 2012 are undoubtedly the best Avalon years in the third-generation Toyota Avalon line.
These years saw Toyota harnessing the power of a 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6 (280 hp) engine that was complemented by a smooth 5-speed automatic transmission. This blend ensured the Avalon could provide both power and efficiency. Fuel economy was increased to 15 mpg for city and 34 mpg for highway driving.
The facelifted 2011 Avalon went on sale in April 2010, with revised styling and only two trim lines: a base Avalon model and a more upscale Limited trim.
Toyota integrated features such as touchscreen navigation, advanced climate control, and enhanced JBL audio systems, delivering a futuristic drive experience. Safety, a keystone for Toyota, was not overlooked with the inclusion of features like blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
Furthermore, consumer feedback platforms like Consumer Reports rated these years with the highest reliability and owner satisfaction scores. J.D. Power rated the third-generation Avalon models with 86 out of 100 on average while Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds rated 4.7 and 4.6 out of 5 respectively.
The Neutral Years: 2009, 2010
Navigating to the neutral terrain, 2009 and 2010 were years that, while competent, carried some baggage from their predecessors.
Although these models shared the robust 3.5-liter V6 engine and many technological advancements from the succeeding years, they were not devoid of issues. Some remnants of problems from earlier models lingered, albeit in reduced numbers.
Although the number of NHTSA complaints is considerably less than that of earlier years, we highly recommend you do thorough research into problems of the earlier years.
The Worst Years: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
What year Avalon is bad? The initial years of the 3rd Generation, particularly from 2005 to 2008, are the Avalon years to avoid. I’ve listed some of the reasons below.
Vehicle speed control emerged as a recurrent issue, with owners lamenting over unpredictable accelerations that led to distressing incidents. In 2010, Toyota recalled certain 2005-2010 Avalon models concerning the acceleration pedal which may become hard to depress or slow to return to idle increasing the risk of intermittent acceleration and risk of crash.
Steering wasn’t exempt from problems either, with reports of clacking noises and, alarmingly, steering columns collapsing even during active driving due to steering column locking lever failure.
2006 Avalon further compounded these concerns with oil leak reports originating from rubber-made VVT-i oil lines, timing cover, and oil hose. These issues persisted and even escalated in the 2007 and 2008 Avalon models.
One cannot discuss the 2008 model without addressing the widely reported “Toyota Avalon headlight issues”, where they would function intermittently, compromising nighttime driving safety.
Best & Worst Years for Toyota Avalon 4th Generation (2013-2018)
The 4th Generation of the Toyota Avalon emerged as an emblematic representation of Toyota’s efforts to bridge luxury with performance, refining the sedan’s reputation in the automobile industry.
As for previous generations, later – 2016, 2017, and 2018 are the most reliable years for Avalons from this generation. The 2013, 2014, and 2015 Avalon models are best to be avoided.
The Best Years: 2016, 2017, 2018
What are the best years for a used Toyota Avalon? Check out the 2016, 2017, and 2018 which are considered the best Toyota Avalon years to buy secondhand. It was in these years that Toyota meticulously addressed concerns from earlier models, thus drastically improving the overall driving experience.
Under the hood, the Avalon was powered by a robust 3.5-liter V6 engine, coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission, ensuring that the sedan delivered both in terms of performance and efficiency. The Avalon Hybrid comes with a 2.5 L inline-4 engine producing 200 hp in total.
Fuel consumption was 16 mpg for city and 34 mpg for highway driving for a gasoline engine while 40 mpg for city and 39 mpg for highway driving for Avalon hybrid.
Touchscreen infotainment systems with enhanced connectivity options, advanced driver-assistance systems, and state-of-the-art safety features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams became standard.
With the 2016 Avalon updated suspension to improve ride comfort, revised wheel designs, and standard Toyota Safety Sense P became standard.
The Worst Years: 2013, 2014, 2015
On the flip side, from 2013 to 2015, Avalone saw significant issues with the interior, VSC, and brakes thus you should avoid 2013, 2014, and 2015 Avalons.
The 2013 Avalon, for instance, was plagued with complaints related to vehicle speed control, a disconcerting issue where owners reported everything from unintended accelerations to unexpected stalls.
Airbag systems too weren’t immune to glitches. Reports of airbag failures during incidents, compounded by issues like water leakage from the sunroof, painted a concerning picture.
In the succeeding years, 2014 and 2015 Avalons didn’t fare much better. While inheriting some of 2013’s issues, they introduced new concerns, particularly related to braking.
Some Avalon owners recounted distressing experiences of increased braking distances or, even worse, unintended brake activations. One of the recalls from this period attributed such problems to the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which had the potential to misinterpret certain road conditions, leading to sudden and unexpected brake activations.
Best, Neutral & Worst Years for Toyota Avalon 5th Generation (2019-2022)
The 5th generation Toyota Avalon, introduced from 2019 onwards, symbolized a blend of luxury, technology, and design, making strides in fuel efficiency and technological advancements.
Yet, with 3.9 from KBB, this generation was plagued with some criticism too. The least reliable 2019 Avalon clearly falls behind the latter and most reliable 2020, 2021 and 2022 Avalon models.
The Best Years: 2020
The 2020 Avalon emerged as the best Avalon year within this generation. Having heeded the feedback from the prior year, Toyota made concerted efforts to iron out any discrepancies in this model.
Under its sleek design lay a power-packed 3.5-liter V6 (301 hp) engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, offering drivers an unmatched balance between raw power and seamless transitions.
Consumer Reports test showcases impressive fuel efficiency ratings of 32 mpg for city and 52 mpg for highway driving.
The technology suite within the 2020 Avalon was an exemplar of modernity. Advanced driver assistance tools, a top-notch infotainment system with smartphone integration, and premium audio setups made journeys both safe and pleasurable.
Adding to this were commendable safety features, further solidifying its position as the most reliable Avalon year in this generation.
The Neutral Years: 2021, 2022
The years 2021 and 2022 Avalons were marked by steady performance. Toyota continued its trajectory of integrating advanced technological features, with enhanced adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and lane-keeping assist.
Both years offered variations of the 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid option, ensuring the needs of both performance enthusiasts and eco-conscious consumers were met.
The 2021 and 2022 Toyota Avalon models were reliable and solid performers, but they didn’t necessarily introduce groundbreaking changes or improvements. This consistency in performance and feature set gives them a neutral standing.
The Worst Years: 2019
Within the 5th generation, 2019 is the Avalon year better to avoid considering a more robust 2020 or even 2018 from the fourth generation.
This year was particularly notorious for issues concerning the engine and power train. Owners voiced concerns about the transmission, highlighting that it tended to jerk and slip, particularly at low speeds, affecting the driving experience.
Another significant drawback was a recall issued in 2020 addressing fuel pump failures, which could lead to engine stalling, posing significant risks on the road.
Despite being an ambitious launch, replete with modern design and innovative features, the 2019 Avalon was marred by these challenges. Bear in mind that this recall targets the 2020 Avalon too.
Potential buyers and long-time Toyota enthusiasts were thus encouraged to be wary and consider later models of the same generation for a more refined experience.
See NHTSA 2019 Toyota Avalon recalls and complaints.
Toyota Avalon Average Resale Values
Here’s a graph showing the average resale values of Toyota Avalon models over time, showcasing the vehicle’s resale values in the secondary market.
Now, you’ve gained valuable insight into the best Toyota Avalon years in terms of reliability and performance. My recommendation for you is 2016-2018 Avalons as well as older best-year Toyota Avalon models if age is not a limiting factor for you.
Based on our breakdown, which model year of the Toyota Avalon would you consider the most reliable and why?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.