Glitches in Toyota's Entune system spoil otherwise appealing Avalon
In the Detroit area, the Ferndale-Royal Oak neighborhood is an amusement park for foodies, from wings to cupcakes to fine dining. It'd be good if you knew that, because the 2013 Toyota Avalon's touted system for navigation and Internet connectivity drew a blank when I asked it to find nearby restaurants.
“There are no points of interest in this category near here,” the nav system announced as I sat in the parking lot of One-Eyed Betty's restaurant. Web searches through the car's Bing and Open Table apps produced similar results. I could smell the signature Sweaty Betty Sausage and Peppers sizzling 50 feet away, but Toyota's Entune system couldn't find the place, or any of the other restaurants within a block.
The front-wheel-drive Avalon is Toyota's largest car, longer, roomier and more expensive than the Camry. Prices start at $30,990 for a base Avalon with a 264-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota also builds a 200-horsepower hybrid that starts at $35,555.
I tested a loaded V-6 Avalon Limited that stickered at $41,654 and included features like perforated leather seats, adaptive cruise control and Entune, which promises access to Microsoft's Bing search engine, Pandora radio and other Internet services.
The Avalon competes with big family sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Azera and V-6 versions of the VW Passat.
The V-6 Avalon has the best fuel economy by a wide margin. Its EPA ratings are 21 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway and 25 combined.
The Avalon's V-6 generates less power than its competitors, but the car I tested accelerated confidently, shifted smoothly and was quite capable in fast highway driving. I noticed a slight vibration in the steering wheel at 2,000-2,600 engine rpm, but the engine was otherwise unobtrusive.
An Eco mode adjusts the throttle response and transmission to boost fuel economy, while a Sport button nudges those systems in the opposite direction for quicker acceleration and enthusiastic driving.
The suspension is tuned for comfort. It cushions the ride over bumpy surfaces and minimizes body roll in corners.
The passenger compartment offers good head, leg and shoulder room for front and rear occupants. The 16.0-cubic-foot trunk is larger than those the LaCrosse and Passat offer, but smaller than those in the '14 Impala, Charger, Taurus and Azera. The trunk opening is a bit small.
Entune combines voice recognition with Internet connectivity through your smartphone. Toyota's proud of the new system, which is its answer to Chevrolet's Intellilink, Chrysler's Uconnect and Ford's Sync.
The voice recognition is very good for hands-free phone calls and navigation. The Internet function did not work as well. The “apps” folder on the touch screen that linked to Bing, Pandora Radio, Open Table and other apps failed to open several times and required time-consuming updates at least three times over the course of four days.
A patient and helpful Toyota representative who trains dealerships about how to use Entune gave up several hours of his weekend in repeated phone calls to troubleshoot the system, but it never worked as well as it should.
Mark Phelan is the Detroit Free Press auto critic; email him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Is Big Brother a backseat driver?
- Mylan discounts speculation of a possible takeover by Teva
- U.S. oil, natural gas rig count drops by 34 to 954
- Pa. employers shed 12,700 jobs in March; unemployment rate rises to 5.3 percent
- Review: Chevrolet Trax is an affordable SUV option
- Jump in home loans, trading commissions lead to profitable 1st quarter for banks
- Glaxo to close Moon office, affecting 274 workers
- Renewed fears of Greek default whack stock market
- Here’s how to clean your car
- Google’s changes to search results formula expected to shake up mobile economy
- EU regulators challenge Google’s domain