1 Jul 2000
Toyota’s decision to take on the high-flying Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon with a locally built version based on the 1994-1999 US-market front-wheel drive Avalon was a curious one, especially as the four-door only sedan seemed stylistically senile by its mid-’00 launch.
And predictably Australians stayed away, despite the best efforts at launch time by Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson.
The fact that Toyota’s Australian arm upgraded the 1993 Camry-based model with a newer, stronger and dynamically much more adept platform (also Camry-based, but for the newer 2002 version) and various other mechanical and structural upgrades was lost on the sheer dowdiness of the design.
The Avalon also shared its silky-smooth 145kW/284Nm 3.0-litre DOHC 24V V6 (with four-speed auto only gearbox) with the Camry, and it even worked more advantageously in the Avalon too.
Toyota tried everything to get buyers interested – it dropped prices, added extra features, released a slightly made-over “Mark II” model from October ’01 – but it continued to languish.
Four models were offered: the base Conquest, CSX, mid-range VXi and luxury Grande.
The special editions included the CSX Sports Pack from April ’01, the popular Sorrento from August ’01 and February ’02, and the VXi Limited from October ’01.