At SEMA, Toyota Avalon Tries Hanging With the Cool Kids

The full-size Avalon sedan, often damned with faint praise as Toyota’s Buick, is aiming for a different image, if not a different demographic, with a complete redesign for the 2013 model year. In an effort to give the Avalon a charisma transplant, Toyota is dressing it up in various new guises for this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.

At SEMA, which opens a four-day run here on Tuesday, the cross-dressing Avalon will appear as a supercharged performance machine, a super-fly urban cruiser and as a highly strung hybrid. The concepts are the brainchild of Toyota’s nascent Engagement Marketing department.

Dub Magazine, which had a field day taking the last-generation Chrysler 300 to such exaggerated extremes, has turned its high-wattage attentions to the Avalon, and with somewhat predictable results: Matte-black 22-inch custom wheels on low-profile Pirelli tires, a slammed suspension, lower-body aero kit, tinted windows, blacked-out chrome, custom suede seats and a thundering sound system.

Sorry, duffers, there’s no longer space for your clubs. Three subwoofers and an array of amplifiers completely take over the trunk.

“Dub has proven here that the new Avalon makes a sharp urban ride,” Keith Dahl, Toyota’s Engagement Marketing and Motorsports National manager, said in a press release. “Their modifications give it an aggressive, yet classy look that might have been unexpected in the previous generation.”

Unexpected might be an understatement; previous Avalons were, at most, customized with gold Toyota logos and lettering.

Toyota Racing Development, or T.R.D., the company’s in-house racing department, also takes a whack at the Avalon’s stodginess with the addition of a supercharger that significantly boosts the output of the stock 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine.

Shorter springs and tighter suspension settings help lower the car’s body by about an inch, 19-inch wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires improve grip and a T.R.D. Big Brake kit enhances stopping power. T.R.D. applied a two-tone paint scheme, a matching grille, custom lighting and twin exhausts. Inside, there’s leather, more leather and for good measure, a bit more leather.

The new Avalon Hybrid also is not exempt from the new dress code. In addition to suspension tuning and lowering, the Avalon HV concept wears custom blue-tint accents inside and outside the car, fancy exterior lighting upgrades, and silver-blue leather seating and trim accents on the dash, with lighting to match.

It is not clear whether any of the modifications would do anything to improve the Avalon Hybrid’s combined fuel-economy rating of 40 miles per gallon.

Both the HV and T.R.D. versions also receive a 15-speaker JBL sound system, with dual trunk-mounted amps.

“The new Avalon is an attractive target for performance enhancement,” Mr. Dahl said. “Tuners always want to get their hands on a great new design with strong enthusiast appeal.”