Buying New Car

We will be retiring year and are thinking about buying a new sedan to replace my wife’s 2005 Toyota Solar convertible. I have looked online at the Toyota Avalon. The Premium and Touring models come with all the safety features and cost considerably less than comparably equipped Lexus 350. I know Lexus is made by Toyota, but can the price difference be justified? Also, I have wondered if we were traveling and had a problem would it be easier to find a Toyota dealer than a Lexus dealer? In years to come, what would be the cost of repairs Avalon versus Lexus? Am I missing anything. Any information will be helpful. Thank you.

Yes, test drive and purchase what you both like. That is what warranties are for. As for future repair costs, who knows?

I suspect the Avalon and the ES350 . . . you just said 350, so I’m assuming you meant ES350 . . . have the same drivetrain

That said, the ES350 is probably better equipped than the Avalon, and you’re also paying for the Lexus name

By better, I mean it probably has a higher level sound system, better grade leather seats, more sound insulation, etc.

Many/most Toyota dealers also service Lexus, so I suspect finding a dealer shouldn’t be especially difficult, provided you’re near a large city. In a rural area, it might get tricky.

By the way, are there any/many Toyota/Lexus dealers in the area where you’ll be spending your retirement years . . . ?

Other regulars on this site will probably chime in regarding cost of ownership websites

I would advise driving anything you’re considering for a few days, just to make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the vehicle, blind spots, seats, etc. The Avalon will definitely be bigger than your Solara convertible

My mom’s retired . . . and is an excellent driver, by the way . . . and she wouldn’t be comfortable driving anything the size of the Avalon

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A college of mine had has an Avalon for 4 years owns one as a business car, and raves about it. He likes the comfort and the low upkeep (same as the Camry). Also lot of legroom for clients when he takes them for lunch.

If you are looking at 20 year retirement ownership (they last that long) the Avalon will cost considerably less the keep running. Also more dealers.

Happy motoring.

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The Lexus ES350 is built on the same platform as the Toyota Avalon for the current generation. The main difference is added luxury touches on the Lexus. Test drive them both, and make it a long test drive. I considered buying a 2017 Avalon, but decided against it after a test drive. The drivers seat was comfortable for a while, but became uncomfortable after about 20 minutes. The side bolsters on the seat back pushed into my ribs, and that took it off my list. This might not be an issue for you. The ES350 seats will likely be different and you may like them better. My other complaint with the Avalon is that the lane minder feature kept me from merging across the white line when it was convenient and safer to do so. I’m sure I wouldn’t want to fight with the car to go where I want when I want. The same maneuver was not a problem with the Chevrolet Impala. You might consider test driving an Impala Premium to compare with the Avalon. If I wanted a large sedan, I would have bought the Impala.

If retiring means replacing your Toyota Solara Convertible, then don’t retire. If I had owned a Toyota Solara Convertible when I retired, I would have looked forward to having the time to drive and enjoy the car.
I have found with Toyota products that they are quite reliable. You probably won’t go wrong with either a Lexus or an Avalon. I bought a Toyota Sienna before I retired in 2011. My wife drives.a 2003 Toyota 4Runner which we purchased new. If retirement meant giving up her 4Runner, my wife wouldn’t have retired. My son needed a better car, so I sold him my 2011 Sienna and bought myself a new 2017 Sienna. My problem is that I have too many interests and needs that require a minivan. I had thought my retirement vehicle would be a Mazda Miata.
In your situation, follow the advice of the other posters.

The only two people in the world that can answer that question are you and yours.
As already suggested, test drive both and buy the one SHE likes best. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I thought the Avalon always was built on a stretched Camry platform

If so, I would expect the Avalon to have a longer wheelbase than the ES350

Google says both are 111".

Current ES is on Avalon platform, used to be on Camry.

Why does the Lexus cost more to “keep running”?

The both use the same fuel, the same oil, filters, tires etc.
The Lexus has a longer warranty, 4 years/50,000 miles basic warranty and 6 years/70,000 miles for the powertrain.

If I was retiring and had a Convertible Solara, I would switch it to a Miata, MX with the retractable hard top. Pretty nifty car/features, but that is not your question :smile:

I am not sure if you need an Avalon size car, so I will add a decently loaded Camry to the list to test drive. Actually the LE trim nowadays has ore features than I could have asked for.

Most people I know who buy a Lexus, buy it because they want to be “seen” in one and they could not tell the difference from an Avalon. Having said that it should be more of a luxurious car, so if you want to spoil yourself that is the way to go. The Toyota dealers would service your Lexus too, so that should not be an issue.

I agree with others that you need a lengthy test drive, maybe even rent one for 3 days and see how you like it. It is amazing how small annoyances like the arm rest or the cup holder becomes a deal breaker for some of us 3 months into ownership.

The older generations of the ES350 were built on the Camry chassis. The newest generation of the ES350 uses the Avalon chassis.

In my opinion, anybody shopping for an Avalon is not going to be satisfied with a Camry LE

The Avalon will have alloy rims and automatic climate control, whereas the Camry LE will have stamped steel rims, wheel covers and manual AC

And that’s just naming 2 significant differences

If I was looking for a “nice” vehicle, I would be looking at a high trim level vehicle. And a Camry LE wouldn’t make the cut

You have been given good advice concerning road testing the vehicles you are considering. One of my musical friends has a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis, and a newer big Cadillac. The Cadillac is a much more expensive car than the Mercury. Yet, my friend and his wife much prefer the Mercury. You may find you prefer the Avalon over the Lexus. This same friend also has a 1998 Dodge truck–V-8 with a manual transmission. Being an old country boy, I prefer riding in the Dodge truck to either his Mercury or Cadillac. I like sitting upright when I ride. If I have to ride in a car, I want a Mazda Miata. If I am going to be uncomfortable anyway, I might as well be uncomfortable in something fun to drive. Seriously, maybe you should look at a luxury SUV. As a retired person, you may find the SUV more comfortable if you do traveling. We travel a lot in our 2003 Toyota 4Runner. It is not a luxury SUV, but I can make the 360 mile trip to visit our son and not feel tired after making the trip. The 4Runner replaced a 1993 Oldsmobile 88 we owned that was the top of the line. Yet, after 50 miles, my legs and back were so stiff I could hardly move when I got out of the car. We had a 2000 Ford Aerostar minivan, the Eddie Bauer extended model at the tine. We drove the Aerostar on long trips as opposed to the Oldsmobile. The seating position in the Aerostar was more comfortable.
One of my church friends has an Avalon. It has very luxurious appointments. Yet, I wasn’t impressed with the ride and seating position. What I am trying to say is that you may want to consider a luxury SUV.

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With so many excellent vehicles in all price ranges on the market these days how could someone go to a forum and really expect to be recommended the right vehicle. I know one couple that will only consider Ford products, one that thinks every family should have an Odyssey van. I have said it before , use the build it yourself feature that manufactures have, make a list of vehicles you might like then go look at them in person.

Lexus is made by Toyota and the Lexus sedan may be built on the same basic chassis as the Toyota, but that does not mean that they are the same car, with one optioned higher than the other.

Years ago, Ford had the Taurus and Mercury had the Sable. They were quite similar, even sharing some body and interior panels and engines. But there were subtle differences. The Sable had different front coil springs for a nicer ride, the power steering had a slightly different feel. Not much different, but enough to be noticeable if you had driven them back to back–which we did. So we bought a Sable.

Fast forward to today. The Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKZ share common structures and are engineered from the same design. Many parts may be interchangeable. But there are enough differences that make the Lincoln a much nicer car. The Edge has a conventional shifter on the console, the MKZ has pushbutton shift on the dash. The MKZ rides much quieter due to noise cancelling technology integrated into the sound system. The MKZ steers and handles much more securely due to larger wheels, better suspension damping, etc. The leather in the Lincoln feels and looks better than a Ford with leather interior.

Driving a Toyota Highlander and a Lexus RX back to back resulted in similar observations. If you can, drive an Avalon and Lexus in the same afternoon on the same roads and decide which you prefer.

Since this (I assume?) will likely be your last new car purchase and you plan to keep the car for a long time, I would think that any difference in service and maintenance costs amortized over the life of the car would be minimal.

Finally, I always recommend that people looking at a new car purchase find a local rental agency that carries that model. Then rent one for a few days and use it like you normally would. That’s the only way to get a true idea of how the car fits you.

@asemaster; It is interesting you mention the HL and the Lexus RX. A family friend had leased one of each, on lease renewal they decided the HL is more functional and fun so they now have two Highlanders.

Moral of the story is again, test drive and see what suits your needs.

Also @db4690, I recently had rented a Camry SE and felt it was quite an upgrade compared to my 2005 Camry LE. My Camry has been replaced, but if I wanted a sedan I would get an ex-rental SE Camry from Hertz for around $13-14K.

You should be looking at this key features:
-Interior space
-Performance specifications
-Features and technologies
-Safety system availability
The two vehicles are very similar in terms of functionality. You and the Mrs should go on a test drive on both. I am pretty sure you will get a winner!

Routine maintenance is probably close, but repairs requiring parts will cost more, especially body parts.Shop rates for Lexus will be higher that for Avalon and Camry.

A Cadillac Escalade is basically a dressed up Suburban, but upkeep on one will cost much more. We’re talking long term ownership of such cars.

Lexus is a luxury car and the owners of luxury cars are used to paying more.