2019 Toyota Avalon Review

2019 Toyota Avalon - 2019 Toyota Avalon Touring among top full-size sedans


Price: $42,200

Pros-All new. Sleek. Upscale. Roomy. Strong acceleration. Solid handling. Comfortable ride. Well-equipped.

Cons-Gauges hard to see in sunlight. Oversized console. Hard rear-seat center.   

Bottom Line-Very pleasant upscale sedan.

The all-new 2019 Toyota Avalon premium sedan is a far cry from the first Avalons to reach America years ago.. Smaller, less powerful and not very upscale, they were more suited for driving in Japan, although a definite step above lower-line Toyotas sold here.

The new fifth-generation Avalon shows that sedans are still a pretty good deal, despite the lemming-like major move toward small SUVs and crossovers. Major rivals include the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus.

Actually, the front-drive Avalon is designed and assembled in the United States. It comes as the $42,200 Touring model I tested or as Limited, XSE and XLE models that range in price from $38,000 to $42,800.

The new Avalon is longer, lower and wider than before. Even rear passengers can stretch, especially those behind the front passenger, and there's a huge trunk. Flip-down rear seat backs with opener levers in the trunk for security reasons greatly expand the cargo area. Those who feel the large piano black mesh grille is a bit much can just stick a license plate in its center, which is what some Lexus owners do.

There are gas and hybrid versions of this sleek sedan. The one I drove had a 3.6-liter V-6 with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. There's also a 215-horsepower hybrid version with a 2.5-liter 215-horsepower four-cylinder and a compact battery pack set behind the rear passenger seat (instead of the trunk) for a lower center of gravity.

Estimated fuel economy of the V-6 is 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on highways. Top hybrid economy is an estimated 43 in the city and 44 on highways. Only 87-octane was required for my test car.

The new Avalon has a new platform with a multi-link rear suspension and available Toyota-first Variable Suspension. There's also standard Entune 3.0 premium audio with Wi-Fi Connect, Toyota Remote Connect with Smartwatch, Amazon Alexa Connectivityalong with Apple CarPlay compatibility.  

The Avalon Touring's performance is good, but not outstanding. This is a highly refined top-line Toyota, not some hot rod. I don't think Toyota wants it to be particularly fun to drive. Very pleasant, though. Still, some might be fooled by the Touring's large black 19-inch alloy wheels with low-profile 40-series tires, dual exhausts with quad chromed tips, piano black mirror housings and a rear spoiler. There's also an engine sound enhancer.

The engine works effectively with an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. A driver can choose "Eco" (economy), Custom or Sport/Sport+ driving modes via a button in the large console, but the Eco mode is fine for most regular driving. Steering gets awfully heavy in Sport+ mode.

The steering is nicely weighted, and the ride is smooth. The linear-action brake pedal causes the anti-lock brakes to bite soon and hard. Handling is secure with such features as a sport-tuned front and rear suspension. It's helped by the adaptive variable suspension. The new rear multi-link suspension allows such things as a wider rear track, lower center of gravity and an aggressive stance. Revised trailing arms have a higher position for better bump absorption, although sharp road imperfections can be felt. Shock absorbers are tilted forward to gain a suppler ride, and bushings on trailing arms and arm joints help mask road imperfections.

My test Avalon had a silent upscale interior with soft-touch materials and lots of storage areas, but gauges were difficult to read in sunlight. Among standard features were a pushbutton start, power heated and ventilated front seats, heated tilt/telescopic wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat vents and a power sunroof.

The infotainment system includes a 9-inch touchscreen that can be easily used. There's also lots of dash-area control buttons that also can be quickly used if a driver wants to bypass the screen.

Want more? Authentic materials, such as available Yamaha-sourced wood trim and authentic aluminum pieces, are offered.

Many Avalons likely will be bought by older family oriented folks, so safety features are important. The Avalon Touring thus has a standard pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, a Smart Stop feature, blind spot monitor and cross-traffic alert.

Toyota sold 33,580 Avalons last year. With the new version, the figure likely will be higher this year.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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