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by Tim Beissmann

The wraps have come off the 2013 Toyota Avalon at the New York auto show, revealing an elegant and assertive new look for the US-developed and -designed large sedan.

Although many Australians are familiar with the Avalon nameplate (an old version of the car was built at Toyota Australia’s Altona plant between 2000 and 2005), the new model will be produced exclusively in left-hand-drive – primarily for the North American market – and will not be sold locally. Toyota Australia shifted its large-car focus from Avalon to Aurion in 2006, and an updated version of that car will be launched in Australia next week.

Defying the trend of vehicles to grow from one generation to the next, the new Avalon is smaller in all directions than the old model – 4960mm long, 1835mm wide, 1460mm tall – further highlighting the global market’s shift away from large cars. Toyota is distancing itself from the large segment, branding the Avalon as a “premium mid-size sedan”.

Toyota says the new Avalon was engineered at Toyota’s Technical Center in Michigan and styled by a “youthful and talented team” in the US who sought to realise the vision set by Toyota president Akio Toyoda to create a sporty, bold exterior design, a luxurious interior and a more dynamic, engaging vehicle to drive. It will be manufactured in Kentucky and will go on sale later this year.

The headlights and grille exhibit a clear family resemblance with the recently released Camry, while the gaping five-slat chrome grille gives the new Avalon an unmistakeable and unique personality.

The raked rear window creates a more athletic stance, while the angular taillights (reminiscent of the Kia Optima’s) and large diffuser with twin chrome exhausts complete a sleek and cohesive design.

A 6.1-inch touchscreen on the centre stack adds a sense of high-tech to cabin, which has been optimised for comfort with new soft-touch materials and high quality surfaces, and a focus on reducing NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels. High-grade models will benefit from a larger, HDD navigation screen, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and rear seats and three-zone climate control, among other features.

All models come with a class-leading 10 airbags and electronic stability control, while a pre-collision system, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert system are also available to further enhance the Avalon’s safety credentials.

Just as the Aurion competes with the Australia-specific Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore locally, the redesigned Avalon will continue to take up the fight to the full-size Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala in North America.