All-new for 2019, the Toyota Avalon might possibly be the most attractive and capable sedan Toyota has produced in recent years.
In fact, I would encourage anyone who might be looking to buy an upscale European car like the Audi A4/A6 or BMW 3/5 Series to go and drive the new Avalon – you will be pleasantly surprised. Even though the Avalon is significantly cheaper than these luxury European models, the Avalon offers comparable performance, upscale features, and refinement. This is as good as it gets when it comes to mid-sized, upscale sedans.
The Avalon carries over to the 2020 model year with no changes. The TRD model being offered for 2020 in the U.S. unfortunately is not coming to Canada (even though the Camry model indeed gets the new TRD model here).
First debuted in 1994, the Avalon has come very, very far. But these days, there is a challenge in selling cars like the Avalon because the average age of an Avalon buyer is 66 years old and people are moving away from sedans in general.
Toyota aims to sway buyers back to the market with a few tricks up its sleeve. “Daring in every detail” is Toyota’s slogan for the Avalon, and we can definitely see why. The new model is longer, wider, and lower, giving it a trendier look that hopefully will capture the hearts of younger buyers.
The black front grille is clearly the most controversial part of the Avalon as it is exceptionally large and takes up much of the front portion of the vehicle. Flanked on either side are the new headlights that boast the latest LED technology.
The Avalon leads the sedan segment with rear passenger comfort, providing lots of leg and shoulder room as well as offering available seat warmers and USB charging ports. The cargo space is ample as well, providing a little over 16 cubic feet of space.
Active noise cancellation inside the interior cabin creates a quiet zone and refined feel. In the sportier XSE trim, the Toyota Avalon also comes equipped with an engine sound generator that produces surprisingly realistic exhaust sound (yes it’s actually fake, but you will never know it).
A Qi wireless charging pad comes standard to charge your phone. Toyota uses a new nine-inch infotainment system that thankfully has buttons still, and it offers Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, for Android phone users, the Avalon still does not offer Android Auto.
Standard on most Toyota models is the Toyota Safety Sense P system (TSS-P). This safety suite is excellent and includes features such as lane departure alert, steering assist, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control and a pre-collision system including pedestrian detection. Further, 10 airbags are included throughout the Avalon as well as whiplash-reducing front seats. The Limited trim level was recognized with the highest safety award (Top Safety Pick+) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 2019 Toyota Avalon comes equipped with a 3.5-litre V-6 engine with 301 horsepower that creates 267 lb-ft. of torque. This is a stronger engine than last year’s model. Also upgraded this year is an eight-speed direct shift automatic transmission, replacing the six-speed automatic system. Driving modes that are offered include: Normal, Eco and Sport modes. Currently, American models feature a hybrid engine option, but so far Canadians will need to wait for our turn. In either country, Toyota does not offer an all-wheel-drive model, something that I think is important, especially for the Canadian market.
Fuel economy for the Avalon for city/highway/combined is 10.9 litres/100 kilometres, 7.6 l/100 km, and 9.4 l/100 km, respectively.
The Avalon sits atop the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) base. This platform allows for a stronger chassis while still providing a comfortable driving experience within a sleek sedan design.
Two trim levels are available for the Avalon: the athletic XSE and the opulent Limited. The XSE is already very well-equipped and offers sporty features such as sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, engine sound enhancement and quad-tip exhaust. Limited trim adds features such as Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert with braking, real wood interior trim, 10-inch heads-up display (largest in the segment), bird’s eye-view monitor, and ambient lighting.
The Avalon delivers crisp – even sporty – steering feel, particularly in the XSE sports trim. The ride is firm but compliant and the overall feel is very European. The Avalon feels a lot like the Audi A6 actually, which is a real feat since the A6 costs almost twice the price. The Avalon easily beats the Nissan Maxima, Chevy Impala, and the Chrysler 300 in terms of overall performance and refinement.
Other competitors for the Avalon include the Acura RLX, VW Arteron, and perhaps even Toyota’s own Lexus ES. Pricing for the 2020 Avalon starts at $42,690 for the XSE and $48,450 for the Limited model. There aren’t many accessory packages to add-on as there are already so many features.
Full-size sedans aren’t exactly in demand these last few years, which makes the all-new redesigned Toyota Avalon an interesting vehicle to watch. By choosing to re-invest into this model with the new TNGA platform, Toyota is taking a calculated risk. We will know in a few years whether buyers will begin to come back to sedans again or they will continue to flock to SUVs.
Only time will tell – but in the mean time, it’s hard to find anything else out there that will provide better value than the Avalon.