Full-size cars rarely attract younger buyers, and the Toyota Avalon
is no exception. Try selling a car to a millennial with a name that
refers to the legendary island of the dead where King Arthur is
buried. After all, this car has traditionally offered a similar dose
of eternal serenity.
As before, the
fifth-generation Avalon competes in the large car class against such
Detroit stalwarts as the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler
300, Dodge Charger and Ford Taurus, as well as the Hyundai Azera,
Kia Cadenza and Nissan Maxima. The segment sold 392,200 units last
year, down 11.2 percent from 2016, with the Avalon down 32.2 percent
at 32,583 units. That placed it sixth in sales with an 8.3 percent
Still, you may
wonder why Toyota bothers given this segmentís continuing decline.
still a full-line manufacturer and the segment is still probably a
quarter million units strong. There are some who are leaving it,
some not paying as much attention to it. But with a new platform and
a new Camry, it was very logical to follow that with a new
Avalon," said Bill Fay, senior vice president of automotive
operations at Toyota North America. "We think thereís a new
opportunity to grab some more share there."
words, Toyota hopes to lure a younger buyer, one younger than the
current Avalonís, which is slightly less than 60 years old.
2019 edition was engineered and designed at Toyotaís facilities in
Michigan, Kentucky and California using Toyotaís New Global
Architecture, a platform that also underpins the recently redesigned
Camry. And while not as radically styled as the Camry, the Avalon
has a similar look that banishes the stodginess of the current car.
really the one chance in 20 years to redefine the proportions, the
stance and the overall look of the vehicle," said Randy
Stephens, Avalonís chief engineer at the modelís introduction at
the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
explain why the 2019 edition is two inches longer and one lower and
nearly an inch wider than the vehicle it replaces in an effort to
lend the Avalon a sportier aura. Its face features an outrageously
large, somewhat formless black plastic grille. Its dominance recalls
that of Lexus, as does the over look of the front fascia. The former
slab-sided styling has given way to softer side sculpting accented
by character lines. In the back, a thin LED light bar includes
sequential turn signals and cornering lamps placed atop sloping
sheet metal. Itís a unique look.
Similar to the
Camry, the Avalon will have three distinct trim walks: sporty (XSE
and Touring), opulent (XLE and Limited), and Hybrid (XLE, Limited,
and XSE). Each model also wears a slightly different face, with XSE
and Touring models getting a mammoth black mesh grille machined
wheels, black side mirrors, and a rear spoiler, while XLE and
Limited models get more chrome trim up front, body-colored side
mirrors and chrome exhaust tips. Hybrid models get a unique grille
as well, with hidden exhaust tips in the rear.
Open the door
and youíll find the Avalonís cockpit avoids the over-caffeinated
exuberance of the Camry, with a modern eloquent simplicity. The
Avalonís striking center console resembles a ski slope, with the
carís 9-inch capacitive infotainment screen topping it. Soft touch
materials are noticeable throughout the cabin; they even wrap the
top sides of the center console where a taller driver or passengerís
knee might rest. Upper trim levels include real wood and aluminum
trim. In the rear thereís storage for electronic devices and
generous amounts of head and legroom. Seat heaters are optional.
But this is a
vehicle meant to appeal to a younger buyer, so it comes equipped
with standard Apple CarPlay. It will also feature smartwatch and
Amazon Alexa integration, allowing you to unlock the doors or start
the engine or check fuel levels. And while most buyers will
appreciate the standard 8-speraker audio system, a JBL 14-speaker,
1200 watt surround sound system is available.
will get their power a 3.5-liter V6 and an eight-speed gearbox, with
a XSE and Touring models offering optional steering wheel-mounted
paddle shifters. The other driveline option will be a hybrid,
consisting of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 650-volt
electric motor and continuously variable transmission; itís the
segmentís only gas-electric hybrid model. Thoughtfully, the hybridís
battery pack is now placed under the rear seat rather than the
trunk, so cargo space is not affected.
In an effort
to make the Avalon more engaging to drive, al models get selectable
drive modes, with Sport, Normal and Eco modes. Touring models also
get a Custom mode. Touring models also get an adaptive variable
suspension system with Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. All Avalons
now have multi-link rear suspension, which, along with thicker
stabilizer bars and spring rates, to improve the carís ride and
Of course, the
new Avalon will the sort of driver assistance safety systems that
most consumers expect, including a lane departure warning with
steering assist, automatic high beam headlights, dynamic cruise
control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, rear view
monitor, and rear cross traffic braking.
Looking at the
2019 Avalon, itís easy to expect that it could attract a younger
buyer, or any buyer interested in a large mainstream sedan with
luxury car amenities.
has gotten a younger buyer since the new one was launched; weíre
probably down three or four years in average age on just the new
Camry alone," Fay said. "So weíre hoping with the four
grades and the new look that we can do the same with Avalon."