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Toyota Avalon needs more than a tire swap for a smooth ride

Toyota Avalon needs more than a tire swap for a smooth ride

When we tested the redesigned 2013 Toyota Avalon earlier this year, we generally liked this big cruiser. But our high-trim Touring model’s stiff, jittery ride was a big turnoff, especially because the last-generation Avalon had one of the cushiest rides going.

As with many all-new cars, the automaker made changes to give the Avalon a sportier character, but in the process, it sacrificed one of the model’s defining attributes. This had us wondering if a tire-and-wheel package different from the Touring’s stock low-profile 18-inchers would soften it up some. We had reason to think it might. Our 2013 Avalon Hybrid Limited, tested at the same time, came with taller-profile tires on 17-inch wheels and rode modestly better.

To find out, we tried two 17-inch-wheel alternatives, first by driving a lower-trim Avalon XLE, with its stock 17-inch Michelin Primacy MXM4s, and second by mounting our Hybrid’s 17-inch Bridgestone Turanza EL400 02 tires on our Touring model.

Neither one proved to be a great alternative. The 17-inch tires took some of the rough edge off the ride, but unless you drove the 17- and 18-inchers back-to-back, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference. And switching to the 17-inch Bridgestone tires also degraded the Touring’s handling a wee bit, leaving the steering-feel a trifle bit more vague.

If you own a high-trim Avalon, it probably wouldn’t pay to switch to taller-sidewall tires. But if you want a nice big car with a great ride, think about getting the latest Chevrolet Impala. It’s everything the Avalon ought to be and more.

—Gordon Hard

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.

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