Avalon '2000

The Toyota Pronard will be produced in Kentucky and marketed in Japan.

The luxuriously appointed Pronard cabin.

The electro-luminescent instrumentation is unique to the Pronard.

The name "Pronard" was coined from the French verb "prner," which means "to extol" or "to advocate." It is bestowed on the recently updated Toyota Avalon for in the Japanese market.

The first- and second-generation Avalon had its exterior styled at Toyota's California design center, CALTY, with the interior designed in Japan. It was engineered by Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) in Toyota City, Japan, and was jointly developed by TMC and the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI. It is produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK), and exported to Asia.

The Avalon is made to order, catering to America's solid citizenry who appreciate the car's intermediate-size sedan package offered at a reasonable price, in both initial purchase and running. It has full-size, five-/six-seat accommodation, cavernous luggage volume, comfortable and quiet ride, and vice-free handling, as well as Toyota's renowned quality and reliability. The original Avalon found its way across the Pacific to Japan, retaining the nameplate, but with extra equipment to qualify as an entry-luxury sedan. Because the car is made in America it was also admitted to Korea where Japanese imports are banned. Its reception in Japan, however, was lukewarm at best. Toyota is renewing its effort with the second-generation Avalon, now renamed Pronard, in the competitive and crowded Japanese market, where Toyota touts it as "a full-size luxury sedan, offering discerning car owners a unique, self-expression alternative."

There is more to the car than meets the eye, which may see a perfectly ordinary, homely Avalon sedan. As with the first-generation Avalon, the new Avalon/Pronard is on a stretched Camry front-wheel-drive platform. The Japan-bound Pronard is built on assembly line No. 1 at TMMKthe same as the Avalonand is powered by the Kentucky-produced 1MZ-FE light-alloy, quad-camshaft, 24-valve, 3.0-L V6. The engine employs a VVT-i continuously variable intake valve timing system and the ACIS-IV variable acoustic induction system, the latter varying the intake tract length in three stages. The engine produces 158 kW (212 hp) at 5800 rpm and 299 Nm (220 lbft) at 4400 rpm on a 10.5:1 compression ratio, requiring premium-grade unleaded gasoline, and meets Japan's stringent T-LEV standards, vs. the U.S. Avalon's LEV qualification. The engine is mated to an electronically controlled, four-speed automatic with either column shift (six-seat) or floor shift (five-seat).

The Pronard employs a new electronically controlled PPS, short for progressive power steering, which varies steering effort according to vehicle speedlighter at stand-still and lower speed, then progressively heavier as velocity increases. A small stepping motor actuating the control valve alters the PPS's hydraulic pressure. The U.S. Avalon is fitted with engine-speed-sensing variable-assist power steering.

The suspension's mechanical components are shared with the Avalon, with front MacPherson struts and rear struts located by parallel transverse links and longitudinal links and checked by anti-roll bars. The top-of-the-range Pronard model, the G-package, features "Skyhook-TEMS."

The electronically controlled suspension automatically alters the individual shock absorbers' damping characteristics to attain a level ride and stable handling, as though the car is suspended in midair, thus the name "Skyhook." Additionally, the driver can choose one of four damper settings ranging from Comfort to Sport.

The standard brake system combines ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist, traction control (TRC in Toyota's nomenclature), and vehicle stability control (VSC). The engine and transmission control and the TEMS suspension modulation are centrally managed in conjunction with the VSC to achieve optimum stability under varying conditions. The TRC and VSC apply individual brakes to obtain maximum traction and stability. VSC is optional in the U.S. Avalon. The Pronard is equipped with standard dual SRS airbags and front-seat side airbags.

Externally, the top-of-the-range G-package includes high-intensity discharge (HID) low-beam headlights. Door-mounted rearview mirrors electrically fold as well as adjust, an essential feature in Japan's tight parking spaces. In the interior, the Pronard's instrument display is Toyota's "Optitron," a back-lit unit that changes colors from white dials during day to blue-green at night.

The "Electro Multi-Vision" 7-in liquid-crystal color display is situated in the center of the instrument panel and provides navigation guidance, FM multi-source information, and instantaneous and trip fuel-consumption data. The U.S. Avalon is fitted with a multi-information display including a compass, but with no navigation feature. In the Pronard, the doors are locked when the vehicle reaches a preset vehicle speed, while the transmission lever actuates the U.S. Avalon's locks. The Pronard's fuel lid is electrically released, while that of the Avalon is cable-operated.

Jack Yamaguchi

AEI August 2000


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