It wasn’t that long ago when big sedans were the pinnacle of an automaker’s line up. But times change… and as we all know… SUV’s and crossovers now rule the road. But Toyota for one hasn’t given up on their flagship four-door Avalon… And with an all new design they’re also aiming to attract new buyers that haven’t got silver in their hair.
Now in its 5th generation, the 2019 Toyota Avalon is indeed facing head winds, and an uncertain future for the largest four doors. If you go by the numbers, it’s still officially midsize… but will compete against full-size and large car contenders.
Toyota is hardly the first carmaker to go after youthful buyers, but the new Avalon does seem to be a concerted effort. Towards that goal, Toyota’s flagship loses most of its soft lines in favor of a sharper technical look. The huge, ground hugging grille, sets their mid-premium sedan apart from chassis mates Camry and upscale cousin Lexus ES. The high-tech look continues with the slim LED’s.
Compared to last year, Avalon is a bit longer, with shorter overhangs. The wheelbase grows 2 inches. It’s also lower and wider, with an expanded track. The rear cabin extends another 7-inches… enhancing the already low, arching roofline. Even the back end gets a technical look with connected three-dimensional, “aero fin” style LED tail lights.
This comfortable interior is, on the other hand, full of soft touches. There’s Yamaha wood and aluminum trim depending on model. The theme is authentic materials, quality craftsmanship and high tech. It’s a nice step up from the previous gen car.
Seats remain comfortable even after a long day of driving. The thin floating 9-inch infotainment display now includes Apple CarPlay, and Toyota Remote Connect with Smartwatch and Amazon Alexa Connectivity.
Beyond the leather trimmed steering wheel, the 7-inch TFT has vital stats. Sitting in the driver’s seat of Limited and Touring trims adds a color 10-inch Head-Up Display. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are available, another nod to younger buyers.
It’s very quiet in here too… with extra sound deadening material in the engine bay and noise-reducing glass. Audiophiles can disrupt the serene setting with Entune 3.0 Audio Plus and the standard 8-speakers or the 1200-watt JBL tailored Entune 3.0 Premium Audio with 14-speakers.
There are plenty of other premium features like dual zone climate control and heated and cooled front seats. The roomy rear seat can also keep passengers warm in the winter.
Trunk space is a reasonable 16.1-cubic feet… even in the hybrid… now that the battery pack moves under the rear seat.
Toyota Safety Sense P is standard, bringing high-end safety like Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist.
Riding on a new TNGA K Sedan Platform, the Avalon is more responsive, with an exceptionally smooth street ride. The multi-link rear suspension allows for surprisingly good grip in corners.
All Avalons have a choice of drive modes… Eco, Normal, and Sport… even on the hybrid. For the first time, Touring trim gets Adaptive Variable Suspension. That also adds Sport+ and Custom to the mix. Going from normal to sport… and sport plus…there is a noticeable difference in the throttle response and shifts. The Adaptive Variable Suspension becomes more dynamic while the ride remains supple.
Under the hood there are two options. The new 3.5-liter V6 it shares with the Camry increases horsepower by 33… to 301. Torque also rises 19 to 267 lb-ft. Our drive time also included the Avalon Hybrid which combines an also familiar 2.5-liter I-4 engine with 2 electric motors…one for charging and one for driving…for a total system output of 215 horsepower. The electric to gas transition is apparent, but not abrupt… and it does a fine job. The V6 does deliver smoother acceleration. The hybrid works with a CVT… a new 8-speed automatic swiftly sends the power from the V6 to the front wheels only.
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings are not final, but Toyota expects the V6 to get 22-City, 32-Highway, and 26-Combined on regular gas. Toyota’s estimates for the hybrid are 43-City, 44-Highway, and 44-Combined.
The 2019 Toyota Avalon starts at $35,500 for an XLE, ranging to $42,200 for a Touring V6. Add $1-thousand dollars for the hybrids.
So despite a tough sell for sedans, Toyota continues to step up its game… trying to attract accomplished, younger buyers who want more from a larger vehicle without luxury car, or even comparably sized SUV, prices. With other brands curtailing sedan production, this new Avalon just might hit a sweet spot.
Engine: 3.5 liter
Torque: 267 lb-ft.
EPA: 22 mpg city / 32 mpg highway