The full-size sedan market has typically been dominated by Detroit automakers. Toyota’s last direct challenge to domestic automakers was the T100 pickup, which is an attempt to compete in a market dominated by Ford, Dodge, and GM. It failed to make an impact, partially due to it lacking the power of big trucks manufactured in the U.S. Toyota has conscientiously made sure to avoid such an oversight with the Avalon, its flagship full-size sedan. It comes with V-6 power that more than adequately stands toe to toe with GM’s Bonneville and LeSabre. The front drive shares some similarities with the Buick Regal. Where the Regal is a step up from the Buick Century, the Avalon is a step up from the Toyota Camry.
Body styles: sedan
Engines: 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Toyota Avalon XL, Toyota Avalon XLS
The 1998 Toyota Avalon has undergone a mild restyling for 1998. Safety features like side impact airbags and force limiting pretensioner seatbelts have been added. There has been a slight exterior makeover with new headlights, new taillights, and a new grille, trunk lid, and body side moldings.
The exterior style modifications have made the 1998 Toyota Avalon much sharper looking. An out of balance appearance is created with the oversized headlights and narrow grill. Both the LS and XLS trims have a curb weight of 3340 pounds. It rides a wheelbase of 107.1 inches with 15-inch all season radial tires. Toyota’s four-door sedan has a vehicle length of 191.9 inches. It is 70.5 inches wide and stands 56.7 inches tall. It has independent front and rear suspension and rack and pinion steering. Traction control is available as an option.
The 1998 Toyota Avalon is very roomy inside despite having a narrower interior than Toyota’s domestic competitors. It could still benefit if the walls were stretched out a bit more. It comfortably seats five occupants. The optional bench seat makes it possible to fit a sixth occupant. Seating is soft and cushy for an incredibly relaxing ride. The backseat in particular is extremely comfortable. The back is like a Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas with much more legroom and headroom than even the bigger domestic sedans. The dashboard’s shiny plastics do not seem appropriate for a vehicle this stylish. It can also rattle and make noise after a while. The dashboard is ergonomically designed with logically-placed controls. The exception to this is the on/off switch for the heated seats. Its location below the armrest is awkwardly placed, and the heated seats can be turned on or off by accident. There is abundant trunk and cabin space for cargo. The trunk can typically accommodate at least three larger airplane carry-on suitcases. Both trims come standard with cruise control, a tachometer, tilt steering, and air-conditioning. The XLS is equipped with a CD player and a multi adjustable powered driver’s seat.
Performance & Handling
The 1998 Toyota Avalon's V-6 engine is quick and responsive, with minimal noise. Acceleration and handling are quite good. The traction control option is recommended for anyone that drives in snowy conditions. Its 16-inch treads would provide improved road handling and would be a nice option to offer in the future. Steering could be a bit more precise. There is a noticeable front end pause when turning the wheel.
The 1998 Toyota Avalon has scored well in NHTSA crash-test results. Driver frontal crash test performance ratings came in at four stars, while passenger crash test performance was rated with five stars. The Avalon comes standard with dual air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and dual side-impact bags as well.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Avalon: 21/30 mpg city/highway
- Engine power
- Rear passenger and trunk space
You Won't Like
- Interior plastics and design
- Noisy at highway speed
Affordable luxury and reliability.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Buick Regal
- Buick LeSabre
- Toyota Camry
- Honda Accord