For enthusiasts of the cars-you-kind-of-forgot-about segment, today's a big day. It's the day Toyota unveils the 2013 Toyota Avalon, and its all-new design. From the side, it's clean, sleek, and reasonably handsome, though in almost the exact same ways every new mid-size sedan is clean, sleek, and handsome. Right down to the long graceful arced roofline, pretty much like everybody's. Would it kill any of these guys to throw a big Tatra-style dorsal fin or something on one of these cars? Just so we can find it in a parking lot?
From the front, the Avalon gets what's becoming Toyota's new corporate face, with the pronounced central droop that some have likened to a poorly-repaired harelip, but I think I still see proboscis monkey. A bit more successful is the large, gaping lower grille. If they lost the small upper chrome grill and just kept the lower one, I think the Avalon would have a bold, handsome front end. Shockingly, they didn't even ask me.
Toyota's press release makes repeated mention that the car has a "North American-focused" design, which may or may not be them calling us fat. The interior gets the modern touch with a trio of big color screens, new capacitive buttons (so they're, you know, hard to feel), and an attractive new center stack design. There's also buttons for the three new driving modes, Normal, Eco, and Sport. They do pretty much what you'd guess, meaning Eco keeps the A/C from working too well, and Sport probably makes the speedo needle read 10 mph more than how fast you're really going.
On the plus side, the new Avalon is a shade smaller in most dimensions, and best of all, is actually about 100 lbs lighter than the 2012 model. The Avalon is powered by the same 3.5L V6 as before (probably making around 270 HP), and will likely cost about $30,000 or so.
If you can avoid looking at that snout too much, this seems like a well-equipped, reasonably comfortable car. I'm probably not rushing out to buy one, but that's mostly out of spite that Toyota doesn't care what I think about their funny-looking nose.