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First Drive: 2019 Toyota Avalon

New model enjoys upgraded interior, and a hybrid option.

by on Apr.23, 2018

The 2019 Toyota Avalon XLE is the automaker's fifth-generation of its flagship model.

Big passenger cars have seemingly gone out of style perhaps for good.

After all Toyota admits the average age for the buyers of its full-size sedan, the Toyota Avalon, is 64, hardly the age of trend setters in our youth-oriented culture.

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But with the fifth-generation Avalon, which is about to reach Toyota show rooms across the country, the Japanese auto giant thinks it has found a way to bring some younger buyers with an all-new vehicle that offers more style, more power, more comfort and more features.

For starters, the 2019 Toyota Avalon comes out of the gate firing on six cylinders with a V6 engine with double overhead cams, 24-valves and dual fuel injection. The engine, which is matched up with an eight-speed transmission, which never seems to miss a beat, produces 301 horsepower and 267 foot-pounds of torque.

(Toyota continues to count on cars. Click Here to see why.)

The new Avalon gets two versions for 2019: a gas model and a hybrid.

The Avalon with the V6 accelerates smoothly and efficiently and during my test drive I found it got up to better than 70 mph very quickly. It also has plenty of low-end torque to move from a standing start.

In keeping with Toyota’s strategy of introducing hybrids right along with the gasoline powered cars and SUVs, we also got to take the Avalon hybrid out for a spin along the California coast. The 2019 Avalon carries the latest version of Toyota’s hybrid system and the performance keeps getting smoother and it has none of the hitches that seemed embedded in the earlier versions of the system.

My driving partner felt the hybrid, even though it produced the equivalent of 215 horsepower, actually performed better than the gasoline engine especially in first gear. My judgment was the hybrid was very smooth but the V6 was quicker. Drivers can also set the driving mode in both versions.

However, the hybrid version of Avalon does have some impressive fuel economy numbers of 45 mile per gallon in the city, 44 mpg on the highway for a combined rating for 44. The V6 gets 22 mpg in the city 32 on the highway and 26 mpg overall.

The Avalon features a new exterior for the 2019 model year as well as the interior.

The other element that helped produced the smooth pleasant ride was the suspension. In recent years, Toyota seemed to have lost its edge in suspension tuning. But the Avalon’s suspension is nicely tuned and handled all kinds of road surfaces effortlessly and handled twisty road in the hills around San Diego quickly and efficiently.

(Click Here to see more about Toyota, Subaru replacing sports car.)

The steering was also very sharp on both the V6 and hybrid but the brakes on both versions had ample stopping power though the regenerative braking system seems to give the hybrid something of an edge.

Toyota has taken its share of knocks for its styling in recent years. But the exterior styling of the 2019 Avalon, while it certainly isn’t revolutionary, is quite solid. The turn to what Toyota describes as “Technical Beauty” gives the profile and rear give of the Avalon a new, fresh contemporary look.

Most of the criticism of Toyota’s styling seems to come down to front of the car and while I thought the grille on the hybrid looked better than grille on the V6, the addition of the LED lighting all around is does enhance the overall appearance of the 2019 Avalon.

The interior of the Avalon has been upgraded away from the plastic trim pieces and now features a mixture of wood other materials that give the cabin a warm ambience. The interior designers have reduced the size of instrument panel and the moved opened up space inside the cabin, which also has been nicely isolated from road noise of all kinds.

The interior for the Avalon moves upscale from a largely plastic environment to a mix of soft touch materials and wood.

The steering wheel and center stack also have been redesigned to give the interior a more modern feel and the sight lines from the driver’s seat are excellent. There is also ambient lighting, steering wheel controls for the sound system and easy-to-reach knobs when you need them.

To keep pace with a rising generation of car buyers looking for the latest technology in terms in car connectivity with Apple Car Play and Amazon Alexa and also a full package of safety features that are included in the Toyota Safety Sense system, including forward collision warning and protection and a dynamic cruise control and automatic high beams as well as blind spot detections and system to alert a driver of oncoming as the back out of parking space.

Pricing covers four different grades on the V6 and three different hybrid models so the pricing ladder is rather lengthy, stretching from $32,000 to $42,000 for the top grade version of Avalon hybrid. Toyota says it has added equipment at each price point and the price difference between V6 and the more comparable hybrid version has been reduced to $1,000.

(To see more about the makeover of the Avalon, Click Here.)

Big cars in this class such as the Maxima and Chrysler 300 are sometime overlooked these days, but the 2019 Avalon is a very impressive automobile that will remind anyone of way big sedans became the preferred mode of travel in the U.S. many years ago.

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One Response to “First Drive: 2019 Toyota Avalon”

  1. Mike says:

    You think Toyota would have understood WOOFs (Well Off Old Folks)aren’t such a bad clientele to have. The 1998 and 207 Avalons I had were both very comfortable. The 2014 Avalon not so much…stiffer suspension, rubber band sport tires, very firm (not soft) seats. Maybe they will get is right this time and go back to what sells their cars.