Toyota’s redesigned fifth-generation Avalon sedan debuted at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, featuring a new V6 engine, adaptive suspension, and a boatload of standard safety features.
New styling inside and out highlights the redesign—it’s longer, lower, and wider than the previous model.
Four trim lines will be offered, from the base XSE, to the Touring, XLE and top-shelf Limited trims. Hybrid versions include XLE, Limited, and XSE. Available LED adaptive headlights (a first for this model) add flash and panache to the Avalon’s exterior.
Powering Toyota’s largest sedan is new 3.5-liter V6 engine hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. A hybrid version will also be available, combining a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The hybrid’s battery pack is located under the rear passenger seat. This is significant since, in the past, the batteries were under the trunk floor, which compromised cargo room. But, as we saw in our tests of the most recentCamry, the hybrid Avalon can now handle the same amount of cargo as the non-hybrid.
Horsepower and fuel economy estimates were not disclosed. And the Avalon stays a front driver, bucking the all-wheel drive trend.
Some new high-tech hardware on the 2019 model includes the adaptive variable suspension, which offers settings of Eco, Normal, Sport/Sport+, and Custom on the Touring model. All other grades get a three-level drive mode (Eco, Normal, and Sport). While having driver-adjustable suspension settings isn’t new, the Avalon’s system on the Touring provides real-time damping control to sharpen handling. But CR will have to try it out before offering an assessment.
The new Avalon is available with leather, wood, or aluminum trim and lots of soft-touch materials.
Infotainment equipment includes a 9-inch touch screen with pinch-and-flick capability for the audio, navigation, and automatic climate system controls.
Power for mobile devices comes from a 12-volt plug, a standard wireless Qi charger, and up to five USB power ports. Apple CarPlay is standard. The available smartwatch and Amazon Alexa Connectivity allows users to lock/unlock doors, start the engine, or check the car’s fuel level. That system is voice controllable, and compatible with select Android or Apple devices. The top optional audio system gets 14 speakers and 1,200 watts.
Limited and Touring models also come with a standard color 10-inch head-up display.
Toyota’s Safety Sense P is standard across all trim lines, and it includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
The Avalon has a long history of delivering roomy interiors, amazingly good hybrid fuel economy, and strong reliability. The recently redesigned Camry impressed us with its improved fuel economy and more engaged handling compared to the outgoing model. We’ll be interested to see if this new Avalon follows suit.
Built in Georgetown, Ky., the new Avalon goes on sale in late spring 2018.