Twenty-five years of Avalon history brings with it an all-new fifth-generation model. The sedan market may be shrinking, but Toyota remains committed to its largest sedan.
The Toyota Avalon is a large sedan, one that was overhauled for 2019. It’s based on the same platform as the popular Toyota Camry and competes in a shrinking segment with the Chevrolet Impala, Buick LaCrosse, and the Chrysler 300.
Front to back, the Avalon imparts elegance, which makes it seem closer to what we’d expect from a Lexus, than with a Toyota product. That’s probably intentional as the Avalon may keep Toyota sedan shoppers in the fold, although we believe most have since fled to Toyota’s Highlander, which is a three-row crossover with room for up to eight.
That Toyota continues to invest in the Avalon should tell you something about the company. Indeed, even as competing manufacturers flee the segment (Ford no longer produces the Taurus, while GM will soon stop making the Impala and LaCrosse), Toyota sees a bigger slice of a shrinking pie. And who knows? Perhaps consumers will eventually tire of utility vehicles and make a return to the sedan market. If they do, then Toyota is well entrenched with the most modern model available.
Controversial Design Elements
We realize the Toyota Avalon isn’t for everyone, especially for anyone put off by its polarizing design, particularly up front.
The front fascia is dominated by an oversized grille, with the lower grille opening larger than the top opening. Distinct cutouts for the LED lights and available body skirting contribute to the drama. The profile is not as busy, although the beltline sweeps upward to meet the sloping roofline for an elegant statement.
From the rear, the taillights are connected by a narrow reflector bar. Our test Touring model featured a quad-exhaust design with paired tips at the corners.
Toyota equips the standard Avalon with 17-inch painted aluminum wheels wrapped within all-season radial tires. LED reflector headlamps, automatic LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, LED taillights, and dual exhaust tips are also standard. Some models come with 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels, power side mirrors, and a power moonroof.
Inside, the cabin is spacious, offering ample room for five as promised. The front seats are plush and supportive. Likewise, the rear 60/40 split-fold bench seat is also comfortable. The back seat offers generous shoulder, hip, and leg room. Headroom is average, although most 6-foot passengers should find it adequate.
As much as passenger space is an important selling point, the 2019 Avalon boasts a pretty interior. A layered dashboard, a traditional instrument cluster with analog displays, and an oversized center stack are among the most important features. Indeed, the stack itself may be the best feature here with its big display controlled by buttons and knobs. A huge open area at the bottom of the display can easily hold a small tablet or your smartphone. The transmission shifter and drive mode switches are located just ahead of that space.
Standard features include keyless entry with push-button start, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, climate control, and imitation leather seats. Among the upgrades, you’ll find premium leather seats, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, wood and aluminum trim, and aluminum pedals. You’ll also find eight cup holders – one in each door and two pairs up front and in the back.
Technology & Safety
The standard audio and tech package includes eight speakers, a 9-inch color display, satellite radio, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth, four USB ports, and HD Radio. Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility is now included, however, Android Auto is not. Toyota and Google are working on Android compatibility, which isn’t ready at this time. No word whether it will be made backward compatible for 2019.
Among the upgrades are a 1200-watt, 14-speaker JBL sound system, which was included with our test model. Like other premium audio packages, this one pipes music throughout the cabin, offering excellent range and clarity. Other upgrades include wireless charging, a navigation system, and a bird’s eye view camera system.
Toyota shines in all things safety, by offering standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. But that’s not all — you will also find a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam control, and full-range adaptive cruise control. Typically, you’ll pay extra for these features elsewhere, including on not a few luxury models. A head-up display is also available.
Let’s Go Places!
Toyota’s #LetsGoPlaces hashtag helps readily identify fellow enthusiasts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. There isn’t as large a contingent of Avalon fans sharing as you’d find with the Tacoma and perhaps the all-new Supra,, but they’re active nevertheless.
After all, the virtues of the 301-horsepower V6 are worth sharing as this engine offers capable step-off acceleration and robust passing power. It works with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which quickly responds to commands, serving up the right cog on demand.
For a large sedan, the Avalon stays planted on the straightaways and does a decent job on the twisty roads, although the extra weight over the front wheels becomes noticeable as you enter and leave curves. The Avalon does a reasonable job in mitigating understeer — you never have to fight the steering wheel to maintain control. This sedan’s ride is plush and comfortable; the brakes are firm. For an adjustable driving feel, you can switch between eco, normal, and sport modes. The Touring edition adds a Sport+ mode, for tighter shifts and enhanced exhaust output.
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Although we like the Avalon sedan, customers might also consider the Avalon Hybrid. The hybrid at $36,650 costs just $1,000 more than the base Avalon (add $945 for the delivery fee for both vehicles), but has upwards of a 19 mpg fuel economy edge over the gas model. That’s a narrow cost difference for this highly efficient sedan with a laudable 215 hybrid system net horsepower. No competing model offers a full-hybrid option.
Regardless of your choice of vehicle, a well-equipped Avalon can be had for about $40,000. That’s easily within the range we like for today’s large sedans and an attractive option to some luxury models.
2019 Toyota Avalon Specifications
|Base Sticker Price
|$36,595 (including a $945 destination charge)
|Price as tested
|301 @ 6,600 RPMs
|267 @ 4,700 RPMs
|Curb Weight (pounds)
|Head room (f,r…inches)
|Leg room (f,r…inches)
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)
|Hip room (f,r…inches)
|Storage (cubic feet)
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)
|Fuel Tank (gallons)
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway)
This article was originally published by Auto Trends Magazine.