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.
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