2019 Toyota Avalon Preview

2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
January 15, 2018

The 2019 Toyota Avalon may be the sedan that reinvigorates the full-size four-door market.

The 2019 Toyota Avalon blurs the line between mainstream and luxury. This full-size sedan is Toyota's flagship, and if not for its badges, it could be a Lexus.

The 2019 Avalon might be lower-slung than its predecessor, but its high-tech interior and available luxury features make its spec sheet read more like a Lexus than a Toyota. Arriving in dealers in late spring, the latest Avalon will be offered in XSE, Touring, XLE, and Limited trim levels and both V-6 and hybrid powertrains will be available.

Setting the 2019 Avalon apart are features like genuine Yamaha wood trim (enthusiasts might note that Toyota used Yamaha wood trim in its now-megabuck 2000GT sports car in the 1960s) and its infotainment system shoots for the stars with standard Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, Amazon Alexa connectivity, and compatibility with smartwatches.

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The Avalon rides on a version of Toyota's modular architecture that also underpins the smaller Camry four-door. Overall, the 2019 Avalon stretches 196 inches from head to toe, which is 0.7 inches longer than last year. However, its roofline sits an inch lower than the outgoing model, which contributes to its sportier look.

The Avalon has a cleaner, more finished look than the busy Camry, both inside and out, thanks in part to its larger dimensions. The Avalon's wheelbase stretches about two inches longer than the Camry and it fills that additional space with fewer fussy lines and an elongated roofline that dives gently into the trunk lid. Blade-esque 19-inch alloy wheels are available on the range-topping Avalon, although even the base configurations come with 17-inch wheels.

Avalon XSE and Touring trim levels have their own body kit with a black mesh grille and mirror housings plus a trunk lid spoiler.

Toyota's flagship sedan needs this infusion of evocative style if it wants to stand out in a competitive field of full-size sedans—especially as buyers continue to migrate toward SUVs and crossovers and away from four-doors.

It's inside where the Avalon really makes its mark. Sprouting proud from its dash is 9.0-inch capacitive touchscreen for infotainment flanked (thankfully) by conventional knobs and buttons on either side. Below, the Avalon's climate controls stretch the width of the center console and appear to float with the infotainment screen and away from the gear lever.

One place where Toyota's definitely taking a page from Lexus is in the Avalon's interior detailing. Its available leather seats can be outfitted with a dramatic, complex stitching design that's echoed on the door panels—much as in Lexus' high-end LS sedan. Certain Avalon trim levels also will be available with wood crafted by the musical instrument experts at Yamaha.

The Avalon marks Toyota's first foray into advanced connectivity. In addition to Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity—two features we've come to expect from higher-end sedans—the Avalon also can work with select smartwatches to let users lock and unlock the vehicle or start its engine remotely. Additionally, a Qi wireless charging pad is standard equipment. Certain Avalon trim levels will also be available with a 14-speaker, 1,200-watt JBL-branded audio system.

Motivation

Toyota will offer the 2019 Avalon with a choice of two powertrains: a 3.5-liter V-6 or a 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid. Although power output ratings haven't been announced for the Avalon, they'll likely be in the neighborhood of similar engines offered in the 2018 Camry. There, the V-6 is rated at 301 horsepower and the two-motor hybrid powertrain checks in with 176 hp from the inline-4 for a combined output of 208 hp.

A new platform meant that Toyota could finally relocate the Avalon Hybrid's nickel-metal hydride battery pack from the trunk to under the rear seat rather than in the trunk as on the outgoing model. Toyota hasn't yet announced cargo capacity figures for either version of the Avalon, but the battery's new home should free up some space for luggage.

The Avalon's V-6 is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the Avalon Hybrid makes use of a continuously variable transmission. Both models send power to the front wheels only, unlike some rivals that offer all-wheel drive.

The 2019 Avalon Hybrid is the only full-size sedan with a full-hybrid powertrain; the Buick LaCrosse eAssist's setup is a mild-hybrid design in that its battery pack and electric motor provide assist but can't motivate the vehicle on their own.

Avalon Touring trim levels include an adaptive suspension with real-time damping control that Toyota says has been tuned as much to deliver a cosseting ride as it has to firm things up during harder cornering. Full-size sedans aren't known for their handling tenacity, but Toyota says it has set a high bar for the Avalon with a new multi-link rear suspension, a Sport+ mode for the powertrain, and even engine sounds piped into the cabin on the Touring trim level.

Safety score

All Avalons come standard with a high level of safety gear, even by flagship standards. The automaker will include collision avoidance gear such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic high beams on every model. Additionally, the Avalon is fitted with 10 airbags and a rearview camera.

Options will include a surround-view camera system and rear automatic emergency braking.

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