2019 Toyota Avalon Review: Will stylish and sporty help it survive?

The sedan is now entering its “last stand” as the segment continues to shrink, but rather than close up shop and move on, Toyota has decided to give the fifth generation 2019 Toyota Avalon a dramatic redo. The fifth generation Avalon has ditched its retirement home clothes for what is easily the boldest exterior yet.

Last year Toyota managed to sell just over 32k Avalon sedans, which was down from just over 48k in 2016. This year Avalon sales are a bit higher than last year, but they are still a small number compared to Camry sales, so why does Toyota even bother with the Avalon. Well Toyota is trying to position the Avalon as a more premium alternative to the Camry, in a segment that it calls the “premium midsize segment.”

To give it that premium label, Toyota has thrown out the boring styling of the last generation and replaced it with a look that’s more stylish, athletic and bold. Just like the latest Camry, the Avalon now stands out in the crowd, which makes its rivals, like the Buick LaCrosse and Chrysler 300 look boring and predictable. Starting at the front the 2019 Avalon now has the largest grille yet, although from some angles it’s debatable if the grille is pretty or more awkward. What is cool though are the new LED headlights on the top XSE models with its progressive turn signals that definitely have a premium feel.

As you make back you’ll notice that the 2019 Avalon is now longer and lower to give it that more athletic look that Toyota hopes will appeal to a younger demographic. Speaking of a younger demographic, the Avalon’s trim levels have been split to either appeal to the Avalon’s current older demographic or to attract a younger audience. The traditional XLE and Limited trim levels are there for the “older” crowd, while the XSE and Touring trim levels, with their more aggressive styling and wheels are geared towards the “younger” crowd.

At the rear the 2019 Avalon is finished off with a more elegant design, while the XSE trim level’s dual tailpipes and lip spoiler give it a sporty touch.

Under that new sportier skin the 2019 Toyota Avalon rides on the new TNGA platform, which is also shared with the Camry, C-HR and Prius. The TNGA platform not only offers weight benefits, but also provides the Avalon with a lower center of gravity and a more dynamic driving experience than before. Under the hood the 2019 Avalon can be equipped with either a 301 horsepower 3.5L V6 with 267 lb-ft. or a 215 horsepower 2.5L hybrid powertrain. The V6 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid gets a CVT. If MPG specs are your thing, the 3.5L is rated at 22/32 mpg, while the hybrid is the more fuel efficient choice at 43/44 mpg.

On the road, the Avalon now feels more planted and engaging than before, mostly due to the TNGA platform. The steering isn’t too light and the V6 does have a bit of a bite, especially if you select the Sport+ driving mode. Toyota’s attempt to make the Avalon less of a geriatric appliance and more like a sport sedan worked. The suspension keeps body roll to a minimum and once the twisty roads open up, the Avalon is now ready to have some fun. You can also adjust the sound of the exhaust, which gets a meatier sound if you want.

Inside the Avalon’s interior is spacious and comfortable, just like before. The most immediate difference is that Toyota has improved the number of available tech features, which is an obvious ploy to attract younger buyers. The 9-inch touchscreen now has Apple CarPlay compatibility, there’s an optional 10-inch head-up display, Amazon Alexa connectivity and you can even control some of the Avalon’s functions via your smart watch. For the more premium feel, the Avalon’s interior now offers real Yamaha wood, the door’s have quilted trim and even the seats now look a class above.

Pricing for the 2019 Toyota Avalon starts at $35,500.

While the 2019 Avalon is now more stylish than it has ever been, it remains to be seen if its more athletic duds will appeal to a larger audience than before. It’s more stylish, so that’s an improvement and thanks to its new platform, the 2019 Avalon is more engaging to drive than before, which makes it a compelling choice in the large sedan segment.

" Marc Carter : Marc Carter is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Diabetesss. When he's not writing news or reviews for Diabetesss, he also contributes to Inhabitat.com.."