Toyota has just launched the new flagship of its North American fleet in the form of the fifth-generation Avalon mid-premium sedan. Designers and engineers have addressed nearly every aspect for the 2019 model year, but is it enough, especially given these troubled times for sedans?
I answer a resounding “Yes.” In fact, I see the biggest problem with the new Avalon will be that it will steal sales from Camry. Avalon is actually like a bigger, more luxurious Camry anyway, so those seeking a bit more here and there should and will opt for the new Avalon. Buyers will still have a choice of gasoline V-6 and hybrid gas/electric powertrains in the big car, and now there is more technology than ever, and (drumroll please) engineers have even made the 2019 Avalon sporty. Yes, I used “sporty” and “Avalon” in the same sentence and not as abstracts or polar opposites.
Like the Camry, the new Avalon is built in Georgetown, Kentucky, the same plant that also rolls out the Lexus ES sedan. The newest ES is rolling off the assembly lines and is underpinned by Avalon architecture (Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA). Variations of this are being seen in other Toyota models as well but those are other reviews. The new Avalon is more driver-centric, and there is a new Adaptive Variable Suspension system being offered, although our pre-production tester did not arrive with this feature. That said, we did enjoy most of what the Avalon will represent in production form which is a mid-premium sedan loaded with the latest Toyota has to offer.
Toyota is boasting a philosophy of “Technical Beauty” in the design language of the new Avalon. Technical – as Toyota puts it – aligns with Authenticity, referring to purpose and performance in the tangible elements of the sedan’s styling. Beauty aligns with Exhilaration, representing emotional reaction to its taut lines and sleek silhouette. The 2019 model is longer, lower, and wider than before and new stamping methods are used in production to achieve unique design elements in the body side sculpting. There is an increase of 7 inches in the rear cabin area for more comfort and additional styling. Front and rear fascias echo the latest styling cues of the Toyota fleet that began last year in Camry. You know, it’s almost as if the design center threw away all the modeling software previously used and went with a totally new program.
It was about time to give Avalon drivers a treat, and Toyota accomplishes this in the 2019 model. Driving no longer “takes a back seat” (as it were) in the new Avalon. Put yourself in the driver seat for a new experience. Now, there is no fire-breathing powerplant under the hood, and Avalon will not squeal the back tires (it is – and always has been – front-wheel drive), but with a bit of pressure from your right foot you can make this big sedan get moving in a hurry. Power from the 3.5-liter V-6 is rated at 301hp and 267 lb. ft. of torque – enough to get your attention – and fuel economy does not take a hit because of this. The 2019 Avalon is the best yet in the EPA book, seeing up to 32 mpg on the highway (44 mpg in hybrid form). The V-6 is mated to the new TNGA 8-speed direct shift automatic transmission and some models even offer steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
There is more than ample room in the new Avalon, with space for up to five adults and plenty of luggage. A new dash design will impress everyone on entry of the car, especially the center stack that resembles a Swedish ski resort. A new 9-inch capacitive touchscreen adorns the top of this resort allowing for control of nearly all infotainment features. Want a killer stereo system from the factory? Avalon has it in the form of the new JBL 1,200-watt system with 14 speakers in 7.1-channel Quantum Logic surround sound. In the driver’s cockpit, there is a new 7-inch multi-information display as well as a wide color 10-inch head-up display. And everywhere are new materials and examples of craftsmanship from Toyota across all trim levels.
The 2019 Avalon does not drive like a land yacht, far from it. It rides like a better-balanced Camry with added comfort while never stepping out of line. The redesigned suspension system handles any road conditions perfectly and acceleration, braking, and steering are more than adequate for a vehicle this size. I would call the driving experience “effortless” while never becoming boring. I had related previous Avalon models as being too “Buicky” but these days that too is a compliment and this 2019 Avalon is enjoyable as the most recent big Buick mid-premium sedan I had tested, with style points being awarded to the Toyota.
Pricing for the 2019 Toyota Avalon begins at $35,500 for XLE models. Other trim levels include XSE, Limited, and Touring with the hybrid variant offered on XLE, XSE, and Limited models and those are only $1,000 more to the bottom line. Our pre-production model Avalon did not arrive with window sticker but we would expect it to cost around 37-38 grand. Fuel economy for the V-6 is rated at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. Hybrid cars should see around 43 to 44 mpg in both city and highway driving.
If automakers can keep producing sedans like this new 2019 Avalon, we should not see the demise of the body style anytime soon. Convincing them to walk to the other side of the showroom from the crossovers is your job, Toyota…get buyers behind the wheel and good things should happen. Yes, people are as fickle as the last social media post they’ve read and shared, but as individuals freethinking can endure. Make the car showroom a “device-free” zone and allow folks to see what they have been missing. Viva la Revolucion in the all-new 2019 Toyota Avalon.