This flagship of the Toyota line-up has a great interior and plenty of smart tech
By Nauman Farooq
What to get if you want something bigger and more luxurious than a Toyota Camry, but don’t want to get into a premium brand vehicle such as the Lexus ES 350!
Well, the answer since 1994 has been the Toyota Avalon.
For over two decades, the Avalon has been the flagship sedan in Toyota’s lineup, and while it sells well enough for Toyota to keep building it, it hasn’t set the market on fire!
For 2019, Toyota has introduced the fifth generation model of the Avalon, and like its predecessors it shares a lot of mechanical bits, and platform of the Camry, but this time around, it has been dressed up to a level an Avalon has never been at!
So, is the new Avalon a Lexus in Toyota clothing? Let’s find out!
Styling: The Avalon had always sported conservative styling, but for 2019, it has gone for a rather daring exterior. With a gaping wide mouth front bumper and grille arrangement, a choice of 18 or 19 inch alloy wheels, full width taillights, and two exhaust ports, the Avalon looks far more aggressive than ever before.
In fact, I’d say, it looks too aggressive! That front end looks like the mouth of that alien from the movie ‘Predator’ and surely doesn’t look right on a grown-up vehicle. Not sure what the target demographic thinks of the styling of the new Avalon, but everyone I spoke to, didn’t like the way it looks.
Interior: Everyone did however, liked the way its interior looked. This new Avalon easily has the nicest interior I have ever come across in a Toyota. In fact, it looks like that the design team that did this interior must have been the one that did the Lexus LC500’s interior – or at least has been inspired by it. This new Avalon truly offers a luxurious ambiance, with premium leather on just about every surface, featuring diamond stitching – this truly is a Lexus in non-designer branding!
Not only does the interior remind you of a Lexus, it has about just as many toys in here, too. Want heated and cooled seats? It has that. Want a heated steering wheel? It has that too. How about a comprehensive infotainment system with a premium JBL audio system? Yup, it has all that.
It is also the first Toyota branded vehicle I have tested that has a head-up display system, and it is a good one which offers speed and navigation information.So, be in no doubt, this Toyota is every bit as luxurious as a Lexus.
Powertrain: Unlike the Toyota Camry or the Lexus ES, the Avalon is only available with one powertrain in Canada. Under the hood lies a 3.5L V6 that boasts 24 valves, and clears its throat through a stainless steel exhaust system.
Max power output is 301 hp (produced at 6600 rpm), and 267 lb-ft of torque (delivered at 4700 rpm). Power is fed to just the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. So, the Avalon has ample power, but given its curb weight of 1686 kg, it was never going to be a sprinter! Still, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of about 8.0 seconds, it is fairly quick for a vehicle like this.
Driving Dynamics: If you’re looking for a large, luxury car that is also as sharp as a scalpel in terms of driving dynamics, than look elsewhere.
The Avalon was never about being the type of family car that can also annoy sports cars on a twisty road – no, it’s main purpose is to cover ground smoothly and comfortably, and that it does. On the highway, just engage its smart cruise control, along with lane keep assist, and it’ll do most of the work for you, so you can relax as you cover distances. The Avalon is like a de-stresser, doing its all to make your commute pleasant! I only wish, it had massaging seats, because that would than really not leave anything else to be desired.
Any complaints about the way it drives? Well, I wish the steering gave more feedback as to what the front tires are doing, and my tester had a weird vibration at highway speeds – which I hope was an isolated issue with this tester and not representative of all new Avalon units.
Fuel Economy: In my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving), the 2019 Avalon, during a very cold week, averaged 10.4 L/100 km – which is very good for a vehicle of this size. So, it won’t break your bank to drive one.
Pricing: Base pricing for the 2019 Toyota Avalon starts from $42,790. While not cheap, it isn’t extremely expensive either, especially when you look at the size of the vehicle and the luxury features you get.
Verdict: The latest Toyota Avalon has a wonderful interior, plenty of tech -along with Toyota Safety Sense, to keep you safe out on the road- and is a spacious, comfortable sedan. In short, it is a Lexus in a Toyota badge!
It might not be the prettiest thing out on the road, nor is it the most engaging to drive; but for the mature clients that typically buys an Avalon, it delivers on qualities that suit their needs, and given that it’s a Toyota, it’ll run forever.