What you need to know about the 2019 Toyota Avalon in a nutshell is that it’s new from top to bottom and from stem to stern. Designed, engineered and built in the U.S., it’s longer, lower and sleeker than the outgoing version. Built on the flexible Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), it comes in four gasoline and three hybrid grades. Every trim includes LED lighting, 10 airbags, 5 USB ports and Toyota Safety Sense with its array of driver-assist and safety technologies. Available for the first time are a variable suspension, progressive turn signals and, drum roll, please, Apple CarPlay.
With sedans representing about 35 percent of sales, Toyota isn’t giving up on them. In fact, it points to the reinvigorated Avalon as a peek into the future. With competitors such as the Nissan Maxima, the Buick LaCrosse and the Chrysler 300, the Avalon has some advantage based on its freshness. Although its face is somewhat polarizing, it’s a good-looking sedan with all the right stuff.
What’s New for 2019?
The Avalon is completely redesigned for 2019.
What We Like
Hybrid versions of three trims for just $1,000 more; standard Safety Sense; a spacious cabin; high-quality interior materials; an available head-up display
What We Don’t
A tombstone-like 9-inch touchscreen; no Android Auto
Toyota offers the Avalon in four gasoline-fueled grades, three of which can be upgraded to a gas/electric hybrid for an additional $1,000. A 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is the base engine. It develops 267 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission ushers output to the front wheels. Opting for the hybrid teams a 176-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motor/generators for a combined output of 215 hp. An electronic CVT with sequential shift mode transfers engine production to the wheels in hybrid versions.
Determining which propulsion unit delivers the better fuel economy doesn’t create much suspense. V6-equipped Avalons deliver a government-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway when outfitted as the base XLE. The other three grades scrub one mpg from both numbers. When utilizing the hybrid system, the Avalon XLE delivers 44 mpg city and highway driving, while those numbers again drop by one mpg for the XSE and Limited trims.
Standard Features & Options
Other than the powertrains, the hybrid versions of the XLE, XSE and Limited trims are about the same as the gasoline version and costs only $1,000 more. Prices listed are for the gasoline-fueled variants.
Every 2019 Avalon, including the XLE ($36,420), comes nicely equipped with all LED lighting, heated manual outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 17-in painted alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way adjustable front heated seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a 7-in multi-information display, a leather-trimmed tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, power door locks, Bluetooth connectivity, 10 airbags, an 8-speaker Entune 3.0 audio system with a 9-in touchscreen, satellite radio capability, Siri Eyes Free, an available Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay. Also standard is Toyota Safety Sense with a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and full speed range adaptive cruise control. Available options include a power moonroof package with Qi wireless charging and an upgraded JBL audio system with 14 speakers.
Building on the XLE is the XSE ($38,920), which includes power outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, 19-in black-painted alloy wheels, a power moonroof, Qi wireless charging, genuine aluminum interior accents and front seats with suede inserts and aluminum pedal covers. Among its options are the JBL audio upgrade, active noise control and engine sound enhancement.
Moving up to the Limited ($42,720) adds progressive turn signals, 18-in chrome alloy wheels, genuine wood interior accents, ambient interior lighting, a 10-in head-up display, leather seating, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and an upgraded Entune 3.0 Premium JBL audio system with 14 speakers and navigation. Available options: Advanced Safety Package with a bird’s-eye-view camera and intelligent sonar with rear cross-traffic braking.
Available only with the V6 is the Touring ($43,120) that builds on the lower trims’ standard features with active noise control, engine sound enhancement and four driving modes with adaptive suspension. The only option is the Advanced Safety Package.
No third party has crash tested the Avalon. Every Avalon comes with 10 airbags, blind spot monitoring and the usual passive safety features like stability control and traction control. Likewise, every Avalon has Toyota Safety Sense with its pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams and adaptive cruise control. Available on the Limited and Touring grades is an Advanced Safety Package with a 360-degree bird’s-eye-view camera and intelligent sonar with rear cross-traffic braking.
Behind the Wheel
Most people climbing behind the wheel of a sled as hulking as the Avalon expect a smooth comfy ride above all else. This big sedan won’t disappoint them. It’s like piloting your favorite easy chair down the road. The V6 and 8-speed transmission combo provide a reasonably spirited driving experience. There is plenty of power to get the wheels turning when the light goes green. Handling is decent and the steering is responsive, but again, this sedan is tailored to the over-the-highway-touring crowd, particularly in its XLE and Limited trims. It’s a bit soft in hard cornering. Opting for the Touring trim with its adaptive suspension stiffens things up a bit.
Nearly as responsive on its takeoff, the hybrid doesn’t lose much aggressiveness in the translation. It’s a bit heavier and not quite as quick to respond, but for those intent on saving some fuel, it’s not much of a trade off.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Nissan Maxima — Nissan called the most recent version of the Maxima a 4-door sports car. We agree. It’s a sporty take on a big sedan.
2018 Chrysler 300 — Chrysler’s only sedan, the 300 delivers an upscale experience from the quiet of the cabin to the smooth available V8.
2018 Buick LaCrosse — A premium experience for sure, the LaCrosse provides a luxurious interior and plenty of passenger space. There is a hybrid version, as well.
If you are on the hunt for a big sedan, the 2019 Toyota Avalon is a good choice. We think stylists fumbled the ball with the huge gaping grille, but otherwise, we believe it’s a fine-looking car. Plenty of room inside and two solid propulsion systems deliver the sort of big car experience most consumers expect when shopping for a flagship sedan.