I got my 2008 Avalon Limited very inexpensively at the height of the Toyota scare, last year. This is an extremely, extremely good car. The biggest pluses are probably that it's very quiet and very comfortable; it's sort of a baby Lexus. Lots of good features; many things are automated. The headlights and windshield wipers turn themselves on and off when needed. The keyless entry system lights up the doors on both sides as you approach the vehicle, and the doors unlock when you grab the handle, if the key is in your pocket. I LOVE the pushbutton start... it gets it exactly right every time, no over- or under-cranking. The sound system is, hmm, well, better than a lot of car systems, although I wouldn't call it fantastic. It can memorize two driving positions, and automatically moves the seat into the right spot when you press the button. I'm the only driver of this car, so I haven't used this much, but it's nice to have the right position memorized -- I can lean the seat back to take a nap, and then put it back exactly where it's supposed to be, no fiddling around. This is a big, heavy machine, so mileage isn't very good in the city, where you're having to constantly accelerate and then stop again. I get anywhere from 17 to 19mpg, depending on traffic. But out on the freeway, the powerplant in this thing really shines; MPG shoots up to about 35 if you're holding a constant speed over a long distance, and usually 31 or 32 if you've having to adjust speed in normal freeway traffic. It has lots of power, too. The engine is only six cylinders, but it can move this big, heavy machine up to freeway speeds in very, very short order. Which leads me into my first complaint, and probably my biggest issue with this car; the electronic throttle control is not instant. If you really stomp on the gas, the car hesitates for a long beat and THEN goes like crazy, which I find very frustrating. You simply can't count on the machine to respond immediately to grab a small window of opportunity. This is BAD. I think it's actively dangerous, to be honest. When you input a large change to the throttle, it needs to respond NOW, not a heartbeat from now. I've gotten to the point now where I simply don't take slots that the car is perfectly capable of taking, because I can't count on it to respond when I need it to. I would really like to take a rolled-up newspaper to the designer of this misfeature for a good long while, because it's going to cause accidents. People are going to be getting hurt because of this braindead idea. I don't know if later years fixed it, but I would strongly recommend verifying if any Toyota you buy has this problem before purchasing, and consider whether it's an much of an issue for you as it is for me. Other complaints: the GPS is quite poor. I understand that later editions of the nav DVD improved a number of the interface issues, but it's a slow system, and it's expensive to update it. And later model years have a touchscreen nav that's supposed to be better than this one. It IS usable, but it's always a little awkward, even after a year of practice. (still, it's a lot better to have a nav than to NOT have one -- just the visible map alone is pretty great, even if the ancillary functions are harder than they should be.) The rear seats do not fold down; there's a port to pass through a few long items, but you're not going to be carrying any sheets of plywood in this machine. That said, the rear seats are exceedingly comfortable, maybe better than the front seats, which are quite good. The 2001 Solara had better front seats than the Avalon; I think the changes required for the seat heating and cooling meant they couldn't put quite as much cushion as in the older models. My last complaint is that the locking mechanism for the front-back pull on the steering wheel keeps coming loose. I'm not sure if I hit the lever with my knee when I get in, or if it comes loose on its own, but I have to re-lock it every four or five trips. Just takes a second, but it's a bit annoying. On the whole, I love the car. It is wonderful in almost every way. If it weren't for that slow throttle, I'd give it an enthusiastic buy recommendation. But with that problem, my recommendation is much more muted. If you can compensate for the slow response, it's a first-class machine. But it sure annoys the heck out of me.
This car is very comfortable, especially love the seat and back warmers in the winter. Rides quite well, good acceleration, quiet, roomy, large interior and trunk. I love my car.
Why is it that these cars don't have more leg room for passengers sitting in the back seat? This is why so many people are going to SUV's because rear seat comfort is severly lacking unless you are a small child.