I purchased this car from my friend's father who had was not maintaining the car as he should. When I bought it, the timing belt was past due, the power steering pump was going bad, the rack and pinion was leaking, the rear struts were rattling and the check engine light was on for a transmission sensor. It had 183,000 miles on it and I paid $500 for it.
After purchasing the car, I replaced the power steering pump, timing belt and rear struts. I bought a new rack and pinion, but have yet to install it as the leak is very minimal. After two years, the car now has 215,000 miles. The only thing that has gone wrong since I purchased it was the catalytic converter. It cost around $200 on eBay and I replaced it myself.
It is comfortable and roomy inside - I can't believe how much leg room there is in the back seat! The car is very solidly built. I don't particularly like leather seats, but I'm impressed with how well Toyota's seats have fared in comparison to those in my 2001 Volvo V70.
From North Carolina, we've driven to Nebraska, West Virginia and multiple times to Georgia. I average about 28 MPG on the highway, which is better than my Volvo V70 and Ford Contour, both of which get about 24 MPG on the highway.
I wouldn't hesitate to get in and drive to New York or California tonight!
I wish all my cars were as reliable and dependable as my Avalon, but unfortunately it's the only Toyota I own at the moment.
I'm not sure why this is, but I've only seen one other 1997 Avalon besides mine that has the split bench seat in front. Nearly all other Avalons have the gearshift on the floor between the seats. My car has the gearshift on the steering column, so I can fit three people in the front if need be.