Yes, Virginia, There Is a New Toyota Avalon - and It Will Eat You

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
yes virginia there em is em a new toyota avalon and it will eat you

A quick glance of the North American automotive landscape reveals an environment not too welcoming for traditional passenger cars. Actually, it’s beyond unfriendly. The public’s desire for crossovers, crossovers, crossovers makes the market as hospitable to large sedans as Pripyat, Ukraine, is to human life.

Nevertheless, Toyota’s unyielding desire for a full-size flagship sedan means the Avalon — a solid, safe, conservative model launched for the 1995 model year — will live to see another generation. And, judging by a teaser image released by the automaker on Friday, the 2019 Avalon is dressed to impress.

It might be the model’s last chance to make an impression.

The automaker isn’t saying much, only signalling the next-generation model’s scheduled debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Expect the reveal on January 15th. In its exceptionally brief media release, Toyota characterizes the next-gen Avalon as “style and dynamism, actualized.”

Perhaps the company’s PR folks read this article?

Anyway, as we can see from the image, the Avalon’s grille — already a gaping orifice — stands to grow even larger for the 2019 model year. This time, however, it seems Toyota wants to combine 2018 Camry front end cues with that of its Lexus division, which doesn’t like little bits of body-color plastic cluttering up its meshy maws.

From the sculpted hood to the aggressive grille (itself filled with mesh of a sporty design) to the LED-bordered headlamps, it seems the new Avalon wants to be noticed. The question for Toyota is: who is it trying to impress? Are millennials going to give up their aspirations of owning a Nissan Rogue Sport in favor of a full-size sedan?

Maybe that’s taking it too far, but the company does need to appeal to younger buyers in the hopes of halting (or slowing) the model’s sales decline. Seniors increasingly like the ride height and all-weather assuredness offered by crossovers, but more seniors still buy traditional cars at a higher rate than, say, a 40-year-old. They’ll buy an Avalon because they owned one before and trust the nameplate. To lure as many buyers as possible, Toyota needs to cast the widest net. Tempt repeat buyers while also offering something capable of appealing to a younger set.

When the current-generation Avalon bowed for the 2013 model year, Toyota saw a drop in the average age of its buyers. No longer was the model’s clientele most likely to be 64 years of age (it dropped to 52-percent). Sales rose significantly over that of the stodgy and aged third-gen model.

The popularity didn’t last. Despite the model rising to a six-year sales high in 2013, by 2016 volume had dropped by over 32 percent. Avalon sales in November 2017 dropped 43.3 percent, year-over-year, in the United States, and volume over the first 11 months of 2017 is down 29.9 percent.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • PentastarPride PentastarPride on Dec 11, 2017

    I actually liked the second and third generation Avalon. I like conservative and classy, which in 2017-2018, does not exist. About a decade and a half ago, Toyota turned out respectable looking but were woefully overhyped by owners, the media and CR. Now they look like terrible piles of (insert a word of your imagination here) and are still woefully overhyped by owners, the media and CR.

  • Spartan Spartan on Dec 11, 2017

    It'd be nice if they made it a hatchback. To be fair, I like the Avalon. I'm 33 and I'd buy one to replace our aging 2010 Taurus SHO that my wife just won't let me get rid of.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.