Junkyard Gem: 1995 Toyota Avalon XLS with 389K miles

Junkyard Gem: 1995 Toyota Avalon XLS with 389K miles

From the 1978 through 1992 model years, the rear-wheel-drive Cressida was the most luxurious Toyota sedan sold in the United States. The arrival of the Lexus LS 400 and ES 300 as 1990 models shoved the aging Cressida out of the limelight and — starting in 1993 — left American Toyota dealers with just the Camry to do battle with the Nissan Maxima, Mazda 929 and Mitsubishi Diamante. That problem was remedied with the introduction of the Toyota Avalon as a 1995 model, and I’ve found one of the first Avalons ever built in a Colorado car graveyard.

This car rolled off Toyota’s Kentucky assembly line in December 1994, and the VIN ending in 009XXX tells us it’s one of the first of the more than 72,000 Avalons built as 1995 models. 

That alone gives this car historical significance, but its final odometer reading would have qualified it for this series in any case. This isn’t the biggest number I’ve seen on a discarded Toyota’s odometer (it’s topped by a 1995 Previa with 413,530 miles and a 1988 Tercel 4WD Wagon with 413,344 miles) and one of many with better than 300,000 miles on the clock, but it’s one of the most-traveled American-built vehicles I’ve ever found in a junkyard. Right now it stands at #4 on that list, after a Tennessee-built 1990 Nissan Sentra with 440k miles, an Ohio-built 1991 Honda Accord with 435k miles and an Ohio-built 1996 Honda Civic with 435k miles.

The first-generation Avalon was based on a stretched Camry chassis and was thus a close cousin to the Lexus ES of the era. The first generation was built through the 1999 model year.

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The XLS was the higher of two 1995 Avalon trim levels, and the MSRP for this car was $26,688 (about $54,517 in 2023 dollars). A new Lexus ES 300 listed at $31,500 ($64,347 in today’s money) and was a bit smaller with the same powertrain. Meanwhile, a new 1995 Mazda Millenia cost $25,995 ($53,101 now) and the Nissan Maxima GLE was $24,199 ($49,433 today).

This car has the optional leather upholstery, which added $975 to the price ($1,992 after inflation).

It also has the optional cassette/CD audio system, which cost $1,185 ($2,421 in 2023 bones, or clams). This car came with plenty of additional extra-cost options that I won’t list but added plenty to the out-the-door cost. Hey, if you wanted this kind of stuff as standard equipment, you had to get the ES 300!

Power came from this DOHC 3.0-liter V6, which made 188 horsepower and was the same engine as the one found in the ES300 and nicer Camrys.

Every Avalon ever built (for street use) had an automatic transmission. This one is a four-speed. The U.S.-market 1995 Camry could still be purchased with a manual transmission, but only with a four-cylinder engine; in fact, you could buy a new Camry with V6 and five-on-the-floor manual all the way through early in the 2001 model year.

The Avalon remained available here until the 2022 model year, after which it was executed due to increased loathing for sedans within the hearts of American vehicle shoppers. New Avalons are still being built in China.

Experience the tranquility.

Georgetown-built Avalons were exported for sale in Japan, bringing a taste of suburban gaijin culture (complete with golden retriever in the back seat) to that side of the Pacific. 

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