Teased before its big debut at the Big Apple’s Auto Show, the 2019 Toyota Avalon is a real treat, its tasteful redesign is elegant, understated and refined. Most striking features of this fifth-generation model are the athletic stance, technical beauty and unified upper and lower grille that wraps almost right around the front end, its slats nicely mirroring the handsome alloy wheels.
Behind that toothy snarl awaits either a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder Toyota Hybrid System (THS II) with a 650V electric motor, or a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission good for 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, a significant increase in stallions over the current 268. The hybrid has shifted its battery from the trunk to beneath the rear seat for easier and better access to the back, as well as lowering its center of gravity. The whole range is front-wheel drive.
The wheelbase has stretched a couple of inches, and the car is noticeably lower and wider with a longer hood that further enhances its athletic stance. The laser-ablated all-LED headlamps are glorious, squeezed until almost squint-like, adding an extra air of aggression above that grille which, depending on the trim level, will either be chrome-bordered and gray with complementary silver headlamp bezels (luxury trim); or black mesh with darker borders wrapped around the headlamps (sports trim). Round back, everyone is rewarded with dual exhaust with quad exhaust chrome tips—an Avalon first.
Trim levels are split between luxury (XLE and Limited), and sport (XSE and Touring), all with three driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport; with the Touring trim also blessed with Custom and Sport+ that tightens the steering and suspension. EPA estimates for the XLE is 22/32/26, and 43/44 /44 for the hybrid version, while the XSE, Limited and Touring score 22/31/25, and 43/43/43/ for the hybrid XSE and Limited.
Apple CarPlay is standard across the entire range (still no luck for Android users), as is wireless Qi charging and five USB ports. The two top trims come with a color heads-up display, while the Entune 3.0 infotainment system bags you Wi-Fi connection and smartwatch integration with an easy-to-navigate 9-inch touchscreen. Connect to Amazon Alexa for remote starting, door locking and to keep an eye on the level of your fuel. Optional safety features take the shape of blind-spot monitoring, reverse automated braking and a panoramic view monitor. Standard features include lane departure warning, lane assist, and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
Behind the wheel feels like being behind the controls of a plane thanks to the cozy cockpit-like cocoon which, if you’re willing to stump up those few extra bucks, can be cloaked in real wood and high-end leather, with aluminum trim. As for the exterior finishing, carryover colors include Midnight Black Metallic and Parisian Night Pearl, and you’ll no doubt be pleased to note the evocatively named coloring continues with new additions such as Opulent Amber, Harbor Gray Metallic, and our personal favorite of Ruby Flare Pearl.
The 2019 Toyota Avalon begins at $35,500 for the base XLE V6 and goes up to $42,200 for the Touring V6. The XLE Hybrid starts at $36,500 while the Limited Hybrid is priced at $42,800.