Toyota took the wraps off the all-new 2019 Avalon sedan at the Detroit auto show this week, one year after rolling out an all-new Camry. The sedan segment is still important to the Japanese automaker, despite the ever-growing competition from luxury crossovers and SUVs vying for the same consumer dollars.
Toyota’s largest sedan is now even larger, having gained nearly 2.0 inches in wheelbase length and 0.7 inch overall. It is also wider, lower and longer than the outgoing model, riding on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform and offering a choice of two powerplants: a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four hybrid system that uses a 460-volt electric motor and a 3.5-liter V6. The hybrid is paired with a continuously variable transmission, while the V6 gets an eight-speed automatic. Power output ratings for the two engines have not been announced yet, but it’s worth noting that in the 2018 Camry the hybrid produces 208 hp while the V6 generates 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. The outgoing V6 Avalon produced 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, for comparison.
The exterior design has evolved in approximately the same direction as Lexus, as the four Avalon trim versions now wear larger fascias. The XLE and Limited trims feature a front fascia (absolutely) dominated by horizontal lines, while the XSE and Touring trims have a different front fascia, (absolutely) dominated by a black plastic honeycomb pattern. Out back, the taillights have now been joined together by a single strip running across the trunk lid in keeping with the fashion of the day, while characters lines have been added to the previously slabby sides to give the surface some features. The new look is bolder than before, and the redesigned front fascias seemingly invite associations with Lexus models, which may be Toyota’s goal.
“Material differentiation between grades is minimal; engineered wood trim is found on XLE, while Limited features real wood trim,” Toyota says. “Aluminum pieces adorn Touring’s and XSE’s cabins. A mix of Perforated Ultrasuede wraps all seating in Touring and XSE; Softex seats within XLE receive artistic vertical stitching. Limited goes beyond this creative approach by adding a quilt pattern, special perforation and two-color stitches –- all unique to Toyota.”
The more useful changes for consumers are inside the cabin; the new interior offers more luxury touches including real wood trim courtesy of Yamaha, as well as aluminum accents. The new vertical infotainment screen now flows down into the center console, in the manner of a ski slope, offering a large tablet-like surface at the same level as the instrument cluster. The design is quite clever and permits the gear shifter and cup holders to live within the sloping surfaces that transition down to the center console.
When it comes to safety, the new Avalon features the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of driver-assist and safety systems including full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, as well as a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and a backup guide monitor. The Avalon also offers a panoramic view monitor as an option and a rear cross traffic braking system.
“Avalon will also feature Toyota’s first integration of smartwatch or Amazon Alexa-enabled device connectivity, as part of Toyota Remote Connect,” the automaker says. “This innovative connection allows drivers to lock/unlock their doors, start their engine or check their fuel level, all from the convenience of their smartwatch or Amazon Alexa-enabled device. It’s voice controllable, too, and compatible with select Android or Apple devices. Toyota is among the first automakers to feature Amazon-enabled device connectivity capable of executing home-to-car and car-to-home interactions.”
The 2019 Avalon will go on sale this spring, with pricing expected to be announced closer to the start of sales.