Orford, QC. Many of us still recall Toyota building its reputation on small cars. Alongside the compacts was the Corona which eventually evolved into the Cressida and nearly 25 years ago morphed into the Avalon. As you can see, Toyota’s been in the larger car business for a very long time. In fact, elsewhere in the world the Century (not the Buick) and Crown are some interesting offerings. Look them up if you’re curious.
Closer to home, the full-size Avalon enters its 5th generation for the 2019 model year better than ever at everything. Despite the car’s geriatric image, Toyota’s worked hard at fast-forwarding the Avalon into the 21st century. They’ve ensured that it will fulfill both its existing client base and attract a new customer that requires all the latest technologies and a good drive to go along with what defines the Avalon: roominess, comfort and luxury.
Bold Avalon? Bold indeed!
Let’s begin with what is visible. Toyota’s reinvented its design language over the last few years and while I’ve not always been able to appreciate the massive grilles, plastic bits and put-on attitude, I’ve more or less come to accepted it. The latest generation Camry wore me down and heck, although I didn’t think it at first, I believe I even like the Avalon XSE’s contradictory sporty appearance. To be honest and perusing my picture gallery, I think I prefer it over the Limited.
Its LED headlights, different from the Limited’s, quad-tailpipes, 19-inch wheels, blacked-out trim and extra aero bits suddenly have me under their spell. Damn, and I thought I already liked the Avalon enough… Toyota’s big sedan offers a hugely comfortable cabin that welcomes its occupants with large cozy seats, lovely materials and a very upscale aura.
Luxury and tech
The Avalon is truly a luxury sedan however I can see that Toyota’s purposefully dialed back some aspects in order to not eclipse the Lexus ES. I’m referring specifically to some of the switchgear that looks cheap and clashes with most other controls that look as though they belong in a Lexus. The Limited’s semi-aniline premium leather seats could be lifted out of $63,550 GS. The screen’s integration is well executed and the resulting storage below it is brilliant.
Both Avalon trims gain a 7-inch gauge display and the same 9-inch touchscreen. Entune Audio 3.0, Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging and a 14-speaker JBL audio system are all standard. The Limited includes more luxury such as ventilated front seats, driver seat memory, a 10-inch heads up display, power tilt & telescopic steering wheel, and more. I’d be quite happy with the $42,790 XSE. The Limited is exactly $5k more.
TNGA and finesse
Clearly, I’m excited about the new 2019 Toyota Avalon but I’ve not yet told you about the best part: It’s fantastic to drive! I kid you not! The not-so-secret main ingredient is the Japanese giant’s fantastic new Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA platform. Its rigidity and strength single-handedly drives up refinement levels, all but kills NVH and transforms what most think is a slow-witted, clumsy and heavy sedan. They could not be more wrong on the last point.
The new Avalon sports an all-new multi-link rear suspension that follows the driver’s wishes at all times. Not only does it keep the car from straying from the desired path but it also provides plenty of dampening to secure a high level of comfort. The XSE’s suspension is “sport tuned” but does not impact the Avalon’s smooth operation. On top of a great ride, the car’s steering is responsive as are the brakes. I pushed the Avalon far more than any owner ever will and I promise you I had a smile on my face, and not a look of terror.
The revised 3.5-litre V6 now generates 301-horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to the 8-speed automatic transmission, the Avalon is definitely entertaining. Hard throttle jabs are quickly met with forward motion and in the XSE, some digitized engine noises from the Engine Sound Generator.
You need not look elsewhere
As I stated, few owners will ever test out the limits of their Avalon and in doing so, will benefit from an impressively fuel consumption. Low 9L/100 km are very possible! For all these reasons, the 2019 Toyota Avalon is the best car in its segment.
The Buick LaCrosse and Dodge Charger are two possible options for different reasons. The Chevy Impala, Ford Taurus, Kia Cadenza and Nissan Maxima are not worthy of your time. In fact, before shopping for a Lexus or Lincoln, you should do yourself a favour and swing by a Toyota dealership and take an Avalon for a spin. You just might love it more and save a few bucks in the process.