Toyota adds style, technology to 2019 Avalon sedan
Large sedans don't get much love these days, but there's still a role for such a car if you want spacious comfort and better fuel economy than an SUV. The Toyota Avalon has been around since 1994 as a full-size sedan, before Toyota changed its designation to a mid-size in 2013. However, the Avalon's dimensions have remained more or less the same. It's a generously sized sedan with best-in-class room in the back seat.
For the 2019 Avalon update, Toyota went bold with the styling. There's more sculpture to the sides of the car, and a big wide front grille that you're either going to love or hate. But either way, the Avalon is now fully modern and definitely not stodgy.
Engine power comes from Toyota's long-serving 3.5-liter V6 engine, now rated at 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Or you can buy the Avalon with Toyota's proven hybrid system, featuring a 2.5-liter gas engine with a continuously variable transmission for a total of 215 system horsepower. The V6 Avalon will get you 22 MPG in city driving and 36 MPG on the highway. The hybrid will achieve 43 MPG in the city, and 44 MPG on the highway.
One challenge with larger cars is that younger buyers rarely prefer a large luxury model. Toyota is aiming to change that with two new trim levels aimed at a sportier buyer. The luxury-oriented trims on Avalon are XLE and Limited, while the sport trims are XSE and Touring.
While the more basic XSE and XLE trims offer fewer goodies, they're priced to sell with the XLE starting at $36,395 and the XSE starting at $38,895. For that money you'll get cloth seats, but you'll still get a 9-inch touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto. The system also supports Toyota's Entune 3.0 infotainment system, and Google's Alexa service. Toyota also throws in standard TSS-P (Toyota Safety Sense P) technology with pre-collision braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.
The top trims start at $42,695 for the Limited and $43,095 for the Touring. These will feature upgraded leather interiors and flashier outside trim. One feature exclusive to the sportier Touring trim is an active suspension system with comfort, sport, and sport-plus modes. The system firms up the ride dramatically, but I found the standard suspension to be more comfortable and very well-matched to the car's driving dynamics.
Overall, I recommend the 2019 Avalon Limited trim for features, comfort, and overall value for the money. If you prefer the Hybrid drivetrain, it is available on any trim except Touring for an additional $1,000, and with gas at $3 per gallon the extra money would be earned back in three years on fuel savings.
2019 Toyota Avalon
Base price: $36,395
Price as tested: $42,695
Type: Mid-size sedan
Engines: 3.5-liter V6 (301 hp, 267 lbs-ft) or 2.5-liter hybrid (215 hp)
Transmissions: 8-speed automatic; hybrid: Continuously Variable
EPA estimated mileage: Up to 43/44
Overall length: 196 inches
Curb weight: 3,638 to 3,715 pounds
Final assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky