By on July 12, 2017

2016 Toyota Avalon - Image: ToyotaStiffer structures, a lower center of gravity for improved handling, more shared components, and a 20-percent cost cut are all benefits of the Toyota New Global Architecture. Eventually, Toyota wants all of its front-wheel-drive vehicles to use TNGA as a starting point.

You first witnessed TNGA in the 2016 Toyota Prius, then in the 2018 Toyota C-HR, and most recently in the 2018 Toyota Camry that’s trickling into dealers now.

But beyond the ability to improve existing nameplates and spawn dramatically different new cars, TNGA is also intended to improve plant efficiency. Yet a massive shift at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant, detailed by Wards Auto, hasn’t yet resulted in the efficiency rewards.

“When we change over in the future with the Avalon, we’ll be able to pull that efficiency out of (the operation),” Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky president Wil James told Wards.

Ah yes, Avalon. How could we forget?

Wards was told by plant officials that the fifth-generation Avalon will debut on Toyota New Global Architecture “next year,” and it would be followed by a new Lexus ES “soon afterward.”

Yet when we asked Toyota HQ to confirm that the next-generation Toyota Avalon will be assembled in Georgetown on TNGA in 2018, Toyota basically went silent.

“We do not discuss future products,” a Toyota spokesperson told TTAC.

To be fair, that’s not surprising. Automakers are reluctant to describe their products in detail well in advance. Not only would Toyota prefer to control the Avalon message itself, but Toyota also doesn’t want to give competitors an unnecessary information advantage.

But wasn’t the cat already out of the bag? After all, the fourth-gen Avalon will enter its sixth model year in 2018, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Toyota’s Kentucky boss essentially announce the fifth-gen Avalon’s timing.

If we could think of one reason for Toyota to avoid outright confirmation of a next-generation Avalon, however, the utter collapse of the current Avalon and its full-size sedan segment would be it.

After losing 8 percent of its sales in 2014, dropping another 12 percent in 2015, and sliding a further 8 percent in 2016, America’s large car segment is down 18 percent through the first-half of 2017.

Hyundai has already announced the discontinuation of its Azera, a direct Avalon alternative. The Ford Taurus’s future is not on solid ground.USA large car sales chart 2007-2017 - Image: © The Truth About CarsAs for the Avalon specifically, sales are down 28 percent this year, but that’s only its most recent downfall. After declines in 2014, 2015, and 2016, sales this year are on track to be less than half as strong as in 2017 as they were in 2013; 64 percent lower than in 2005.

This is no mere Avalon trend. The Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, and Nissan Maxima have suffered precipitous declines over the last two or three generations, as well.

Is this an environment in which an automaker would want to bring a new large car into the world?

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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34 Comments on “The Next Toyota Avalon Is TNGA, Assuming the Next Avalon Is...”

  • avatar

    Dear Akio,

    I’d really like some bumpers. You’re better than the other schmucks and can rise above the stupid so prevalent of late.


  • avatar

    Dear Akio,

    I’d really like the Mark X to replace the Avalon. You can just push traditional Avalon customers (all 18 of them) into high end Camrys or the ES. Cut your losses in the Avalon’s segment and give us something unique and worth aspiring to.


  • avatar

    My bold(?) prediction is that on your chart only the LaCrosse, Charger*, and Maxima exist at the end of 2023. (The Cadenza will be gone too).

    * Assuming FCA and Dodge survive.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the Avalon will out-live the LaCrosse. I could see this market going down to Charger/Maxima/Avalon. The Taurus will last as a PI until every cop is driving an Explorer, probably.

    • 0 avatar

      > “Assuming FCA and Dodge survive”

      So what do you attribute FCA’s strong performance in this segment to? The Charger alone is outselling GM’s two entries combined as well as any of its other competitors. Add to that reasonably strong sales of the 300, and alone in this group there’s also a coupe platform-mate to help ease things along, one whose sales have nearly quadrupled since first going on sale nine years ago. Do large-sedan buyers prefer rear drive? V8 power availability? Is FCA’s aging design just better than the other options? Or is FCA’s inability to field a competitive next-size-smaller sedan like the Camry or Accord just leave the 300/Charger as the default choice?

  • avatar

    Blame the police for the huge downturn in Impala sales

  • avatar

    The front looks like a Catfish. Not good.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Ford’s continuing to sell the D3-based Taurus because the tooling is paid for and because of its use as a PI, but the Fusion is safer, lighter, better-handling, more-spacious and a better all-around car, and everyone knows it. And the Azera was dead in the water. No one bought it.

    By contrast, the Avalon seems to sell reasonably well; unless the ES moves further downmarket, it looks like there’s a good business case for keeping it, even with the cohesive 2018 Camry redesign. Avalon sales probably aren’t as strong as the 300 and Charger, but they’re definitely better than the Azera and Taurus.

    I do think this will be a sort of last hurrah for automakers having both mid-sized and full-sized sedans. A lot of the full-sized sedans died because they withered on the vine while the mid-sized ones got all the attention. But now even competitive full-sizers, like the Impala, are being upstaged and made redundant by their mid-sized counterparts.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know if this includes Police Interceptor Sedans, but it show that the Taurus does outsell the Avalon, and posted a gain in sales where the Avalon posted a sharp decline.

      The Fusion is a far newer car, I should hope its better. And the Taurus has more room in nearly every direction, so I don’t see how the Fusion is more spacious, unless it’s a mind thing due to the Taurus’ console giving the impression that there is less room than there actually is.

      • 0 avatar

        Taurus is bigger all around but the Fusion is supposed to have about bit more interior space than that Taurus, mostly due to legroom. Never been in the newest Fusion(or any Fusion now that I think about it), but I have been in the Taurus and the interior is kinda small compared to how big the whole car is so I can believe it having a smaller interior.

  • avatar

    “…in the future with THE Avalon…”

    I assume he got back to headquarters and was thoroughly beaten for the mortal sin among mfgrs of using an article in front of a branded name. Huge pet peeve of mine that seems to bother no one else that they drop it all the time and treat the model name like a proper name.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    The Avalon would be among my top picks for used car buy.

    Proven mechanicals
    Moderate luxury
    No Lexus badge tax

    • 0 avatar

      Spot on Corey. It’s sort of a Goldilocks combination of doing a lot of everyday things competently, without truly standing out in any way good or bad with a highlight on exceptional reliability. Best described as being a “nice car.”

      I can see myself picking up an ’01-’04 car as a winter car/commuter when the need arises. A lot of these were actually quite well looked after by the first several owners, with timing belt changes and strut replacements, adding to their value as something to look for on craigslist.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve noticed that brand new the advertised prices of the Avalon (with similar levels of equipment) seems to slot between the Impala and the LaCrosse.

        In my head I can’t justify why a LaCrosse should cost more than an Avalon.

        CPO OTOH the Avalon is generally the best deal.

      • 0 avatar

        Go for it. It’s one of the best cars Toyota built. I had a 2001 XLS for 4 years, and put over 100 thousand miles on it during that time.
        I still miss it. Very comfortable, adequate power and great build quality.

      • 0 avatar

        > I can see myself picking up an ’01-’04 car as a winter car/commuter when the need arises

        > I had a 2001 XLS for 4 years, and put over 100 thousand miles on it during that time. I still miss it. Very comfortable, adequate power and great build quality.

        I drove a 2000 Avalon XLS (which was actually the first year of this generation) and in addition to the attributes others have mentioned, it had loads of stretch-out room front and back, an attractive, Lexus-like interior, and on some of them – bench seats and a column shifter!

    • 0 avatar

      Except that the latest Avalon rides like an Impala or worse. That leaves the Lexus ES with the cushy ride.

  • avatar

    I think as long as Lexus sells the ES, the Avalon will stick around.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    This would be a handsome car if it wasn’t for that ugly, ThermoKing cooling unit styled bumper grille. Totally ruins its looks.

  • avatar

    It seems the calculus is this: if you have a need and funds for a large sized sedan,buying an SUV/CUV achieves the same goals with more utility.

  • avatar

    It’s like Toyota (and Lexus) are trying to prove that their cars are so good (or their buyers are such mindless sheep) that they can still top the charts with most hideous faces around.

  • avatar

    Dying, middle-class reliability haven that looks to be the ugliest Avalon to date. While retaining the tad boorish.

  • avatar

    For those less prone to believe all hype offered, 3 years in an Avalon, along with a genuinely functional autopilot, is hardly more expensive than an S-Class/A8/Tesla these days….. Despite the Avalon autopilot being genuine level 5 at both driving, parking and running other errands.

  • avatar
    George B

    Toyota will be building a large sedan in Georgetown, KY. The only uncertainty is if they build both the Toyota Avalon and the Lexus ES or if they only build the Lexus ES.

    • 0 avatar

      As I just stated in the Camry article’s comments, if they chop the Avalon from the lineup, hopefully they’ll expand the Camry feature matrix to include features like seat memory, remote-start, and other stuff common on upper trims of other vehicles in the midsize category, especially with the huge premium they want for V6 models. I have a feeling that the new Accord being revealed on Friday will still have the feature advantage despite the loss of the V6.

  • avatar

    Damn, talk about a face that would make a freight train take a dirt road!

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