First Impressions: 2019 Toyota Avalon Touring

2019 Toyota Avalon Touring

Style and sophistication, but at what price?

By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | October 2018

The Toyota Avalon, the brand’s large sedan, gets a full redesign for 2019. We had an opportunity to see the all-new Avalon in top-tier Touring trim at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Fall Rally in October and came away impressed… with one major caveat. It’s a well-rounded car and it wears its new styling well. Here are our impressions of the Avalon based on a short drive around the Autobahn Country Club grounds in Joliet, Illinois. Unfortunately, this Toyota was allowed on the street course only, no track, but we got a good sense of the car during that time.

The Avalon’s cabin is nice without being ostentatious. The seats, trimmed in synthetic leather, offer lots of adjustments, and the perforated steering wheel feels good in the hands. The center console is high and comes up to meet a high armrest, which creates a strong division of space between driver and passenger and makes the car feel nice and roomy. We didn’t have much time to play with the infotainment system, but, like other current Toyota models, it seems nice and straightforward. Unfortunately, the whole cabin feels a little too angular — almost like the designers were trying to remind us of the front grille. The dash line is really swoopy with a lot of sharp lines, particularly where the door and dash meet. Again, it’s a minor complaint and definitely a matter of preference, but gives off a vibe of trying too hard.

All four Avalon trim levels come with the same engine: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 301 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive also come standard. Overall, this is a good combination. The Avalon’s acceleration is nice and brisk; it’s not super fast off the line or anything, but it feels smooth and doesn’t struggle. Once you’re cruising, the Avalon goes into Eco mode very easily, so you can see when it is running most efficiently. The shifter has a good feel and is a nice, comfortable size. It’s also easy to drive, with tight and responsive steering that feels proportional to the effort you’re putting in. The ride is really smooth, too. It’s a pleasant large car and definitely feels more upscale than the previous generation.

So, here’s the problem. The Avalon Touring has a starting price of $42,200, which, frankly, looks and sounds like a lot of money — well into luxury car territory. The test vehicle available at the MAMA Fall Rally tacked on an additional $1,150 for a package that included a 360-degree camera and a couple other advanced safety features. Its base price of $35,500 is also high, but a lot easier to swallow. If you like the Avalon, take a long, hard look at the lower trim levels and see if you can save yourself $7,000 by skipping on some of the higher-end equipment. Since even the base Avalon is pretty well-equipped, this won’t be much of a sacrifice. The 2019 Toyota Avalon is available now.