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 |  May 29 2010, 9:25 AM

Finally, some good news for Toyota – three new Toyota vehicles have been given Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Getting the award are the 2011 Toyota Avalon and Sienna for achieving the institute’s highest ratings in front, side, rollover and rear crash tests. Also picking up an award is the 2010 Lexus RX – now that the company has improved its stability control program. In order to win this award, vehicles must come with electronic stability control as standard equipment.

The Sienna was redesigned for the 2011 year and is the first minivan to earn the IIHS’s top safety designation since good performance for rollover protection was added to the criteria for 2010. This is great news for the brand, and comes as much welcome news after an onslaught of recalls.

[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]

 |  Feb 10 2010, 11:32 AM

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Toyota has just taken the wraps off the all-new 2011 Avalon. The changes certainly aren’t dramatic, but this is the Avalon after all. In other words, it’s a Japanese Buick. We don’t have much info on the vehicle as Toyota hasn’t even released any official specs, but from the press conference at the Chicago Auto Show we can tell you it now gets 17-inch wheels standard and is powered by the automaker’s 3.5-liter V6. Output is rated at a respectable 268-hp, while fuel economy is 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway thanks in part to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Overall the style of the new 2011 model is improved and a bit more aggressive with a larger front grille. In fact, we see a definitely resemblance to an old Infiniti M45 design.

Other highlights include a new sixth-generation navigation screen, segment-exclusive reclining rear seats, a power rear sunshade, LED lighting and (oddly) a backup camera that has been integrated into the rearview mirror. We say oddly, because it would make more sense to have it in the much larger navigation screen. As NAV is most likely optional, however, perhaps this is a way to offer a backup camera in all models.

We’ll be sure to bring you more details when we have them. In the mean time, take a look through the gallery below. The interior is worth a look too as its actually quite nice and not just typical Camry-fare.

UPDATE: Toyota has just released full information on the 2011 Avalon, and it includes some important safety highlights considering the current recalls Toyota has had. Along with featuring Toyota’s new pedal system, the Avalon will have a brake override. Other safety highlights include stability control, ABS, traction control as well as seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag.

GALLERY: 2011 Toyota Avalon

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Official release after the jump:

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