The next town car to pick you up just might be a Toyota Avalon.
Toyota's new Avalon sedan will be offered in a pair of trim levels aimed specifically at livery drivers - those left out in the cold when Lincoln dropped its Town Car sedan after the 2011 model year.
The automaker has confirmed that the livery-oriented Town Cars will be offered in both standard and hybrid variants, where they will go up against a bevy of rivals ranging from the Chrysler 300 and Cadillac XTS sedans to the crossover-esque Lincoln MKT. The effort marks Toyota's first real foray into the lucrative world of chauffeur-driven vehicles. The Avalon livery will be among the least-expensive models on the market and it is the only one available only with front-wheel-drive.
According to Toyota, there are about 12,000 livery operators in the United States, each of which averages more than a dozen vehicles. Livery vehicles are driven extensively, but they tend to be much better maintained than taxi cabs. Toyota has dabbled in the taxi market in New York, where it offers yellow versions of its Camry Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid and Sienna.
Based on the range-topping Avalon XLE, the $31,360 3.5-liter V6-powered livery model will include heated rear seats (heated front seats are deleted) and rear climate controls, although Toyota hasn't specified any structural changes. Inside and out, the livery model will be swathed in black paint and black leather.
The $33,750 livery hybrid is based on the XLE Premium and it includes the same rear climate controls and rear seat heaters, but it deletes the otherwise-standard back-up camera, moonroof, heated front seats and integrated garage door opener.
Toyota's expectations for the Avalon livery are modest - around 1,000 of the 70,000 planned units are earmarked as livery models.