Idris Elba the New Face of Toyota’s 2013 Avalon

Idris-Elba-AvalonBy//Anslem Samuel Rocque 

When Toyota execs decided to further secure their popular Avalon as the American full-size sedan, they knew they had to bring their AA game. For the first time in the Japanese-based company’s history, they entrusted their US design team—led by Rob McConnell, a young African-American engineer who serves as principal designer—full autonomy in the reimagining of the 2013 Avalon, which hadn’t been updated since the 2005 model.

The end result is a sleek and sophisticated ride that’s truly for us, by us. McConnell and his team have transformed the perception of the Avalon by catapulting it into the 21st century with a bevy of interior and exterior features while still remaining affordable with a starting sticker price of just under $31,000. The sedan features such modern luxuries as a smart key, heated front seats, paddle switches, hand stitched leather interior, 10 airbags, rearview cameras, Quadrabeam headlights and an all-new sport mode for those with a need for speed (under the local limits, of course).

Under the hood is an ultra-quiet 3.5-Liter V6 engine that churns out 268 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. had an opportunity to get behind the wheel of an Avalon fresh off the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky and, trust us, the ride was smoother than margarine (because we couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter). Prowling through the open countryside it was clear that this wasn’t your mother’s Avalon.

Sleek, sexy and super-affordable, the 2013 Avalon appeals to a younger African-American demographic than the previous models. There’s even a special Dub Edition. To help drive that point home (no pun intended) Toyota has enlisted the star power of Hollywood leading man Idris Elba to serve as the brand’s new spokesman in his first televised commercial campaign dubbed “Only the Name Remains.” In a series of inter-connected spots, Elba plays a secret agent on the run from enemy forces with an Avalon as his go-to escape vehicle (check out  for the full story).

Since hitting market in December, Avalon sales have increased 60%. Looks like Toyota’s mission of securing the Avalon as the American full-size sedan is off to a good start.

CLICK HERE for photos from’s tour of Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant, which included a hands-on test drive and surprise performance by R&B singer Bilal.

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