By on December 9, 2017

2019 Toyota Avalon, Image: Toyota

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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58 Comments on “Yes, Virginia, There Is a New Toyota Avalon – and It Will Eat You...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Unless its RWD with other interesting bits, meh. Blend it with the Mark X as one global model (yes, the X is due for a revamp too).

    An aggressive grille does not make for a dynamic sedan. The sooner Toyota learns this, the better.

    • 0 avatar

      If you care about which wheels are driven then you’re not the target audience of any Toyota product.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        A Lexus GS 350 F Sport ain’t chopped liver as sedans go.

      • 0 avatar
        agroal

        My ’11 Tacoma drives all four wheels. Just like my Chrysler 300C AWD. Except the 300C greats me every day with an awesome small block V8 roar. Along with a mere15 mpg in town!

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        They’re not marketing to typical Toyota buyers, are they? Because I don’t know if any Avalon buyers prioritize “dynamism”.

        If all this ends up being is a fat Camry, no grille will be aggressive enough to change its decline. The best they can hope for is to give the car something to live up to the buzzwords, a performance attitude that also doesn’t stray too far from those who do want a roomy large sedan. Its been done, as antiquated as the 300/Charger is, it fits the bill pretty well, and has given it a much longer life than it would have as a boring FWD car.

    • 0 avatar
      Aron9000

      I know everybody says, just buy a Lexus ES350. But there are people who will flat out refuse to buy a Lexus because of the badge. They don’t want people to know how well off they are, buying a Lexus is seen as being obnoxious, pretentious, and ostentatious.

      These are the same customers Buick would have really liked to have if they didn’t burn that bridge years ago with ugly mediocrity.

  • avatar
    volvo

    The Genesis G80 just looks better and better for us geezers.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Another hideous, boring, Toyota. Who cares other than the people who have bought three of them in a row? And they don’t look at any of the alternatives anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Believe it or not, not everybody thinks the GTI is the end-all-be-all of affordable cars. Some people just prefer an affordable big sedan; what’s wrong with that?

      (Sure, I’d prefer a GTI to an Avalon, but if I recommended a GTI to my 70-year-old great-Aunt in Tulsa, she would complain about the ride and expensive transmission services.)

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        I guess I’m the only one who would like a 2 car garage with a gti and an Avalon hybrid?

        • 0 avatar
          Marko

          No, you’re not the only one; I could definitely see the appeal too! I wanted to make the point that different cars in this price range have vastly different goals, and the Avalon and GTI both fill their specific niches very well.

        • 0 avatar
          newenthusiast

          An Avalon hybrid, yes. A couple we are friends with has one. Its quiet, well put together, comfortable, spacious, and, if the husband is to be believed, is currently getting them something in the neighborhood of 600-625 miles between fill ups. As a comfy daily driver or highway cruiser, it sounds like a good deal.

          Trade the GTI out for something like a GLI or a larger sport sedan, and I’m on board.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “I guess I’m the only one who would like a 2 car garage with a gti and an Avalon hybrid?”

          Nope. I’m getting a GTI, and I’ve always loved the Avalon/ES hybrids and thought I’d have one.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Some people just prefer an affordable big sedan; what’s wrong with that?”

        Nothing. The Euro-snob contingent still hasn’t figured out that some people have lives outside their cars and haven’t placed an unhealthy amount of their personal identity in what they drive.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Hey, the muscle car contingent puts an unhealthy amount of personal identity into our cars too.

          I think if you took away vehicles I’d just fade out of existence like Marty McFly in BTTF.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            You don’t have the superiority complex, though.

            And large displacement muscle cars are more interesting than reedy turbo-four European compacts, so you’d have more ground to stand on even if you did.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “placed an unhealthy amount of their personal identity in what they drive.”

          Sounds like virtually every Harley Davidson owner I know.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Go drive one. It’s actually a pretty nice car. I think it’s basically the modern equivalent of the 1990s Lincoln Town Car: Ugly car with bulletproof mechanics, and big & cushy back seat.

      Not surprising that I see a lot being used for Uber/Lyft duty.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I’m sure it’s a fine car but I’m going with too little too late. Avalon will get washed away in a Tsunami of CUV/SUV…

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      If Toyota’s TNGA platform is as flexible as in the hype, they can build lower-volume products like the Avalon alongside the RAV4 or Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        They have been built for years beside the Camry, Plant 1 in Georgetown has built all of them except the first generation, which was built on line 2 along with Camry and the first gen Sienna. TNGA hasn’t changed that, Its just a new platform.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Joss, the appeal of the CUV is that the higher seat position allows you to see what’s happening in front of you in the city. The appeal of a large sedan like the Avalon is that it’s more relaxing to drive at highway speed on the interstate. Lower to the ground means less aerodynamic drag and less effort holding lane position with strong crosswinds. Useful in flyover country between the major airports.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Ooh. I’m curious to see it. Avalon is about the only Toyota I like. Best Buick Toyota’ever made.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I’ll take the 2019 Oldsmobile Antares instead.
    Could Have Been!…

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    This all-grille front end trend has got to stop. Where are the sensible and restrained cars? When the LS430 becomes too old to bother purchasing used, which restrained vehicle will replace it? The Lincoln Continental?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “When the LS430 becomes too old to bother purchasing used, which restrained vehicle will replace it?”

      The Gee Ninety and Kay Nine Hundred.

      • 0 avatar
        agroal

        South Korea will soon to be bombarded back to the stone age by North Korean conventional artillery shells. NK will soon be turned into a vast flat expanse of glass resembling the Utah Flats. Buy American! JK

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The auto makers know that grille-less ev’s are coming. As they do, owners of cars with huge grilles will badly want tp spend lots of money to get the hideous things out of their driveways.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      An LS430 is my intended purchase to replace my GS400 in a couple of years. If I can find one with under 200,000KM, I intend to mile it out to 700,000KM. After that, I’ll give in and get a Rav4 like half the population here.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Uh, do you want the headlights to get even bigger instead? They are already plenty big with the LED direction they are heading.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Big aggressive grills work best on pickups – I suggest Toyota take the truck lid off the Avalon, install a tailgate with AVALON in big aggressive print, jack up the suspension 6 inches, and watch the sales triple overnight.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If you want a nicer Toyota buy a Lexus. Only value shoppers would do otherwise and you can’t make any money off them.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Make that “super-value shoppers” as Lexus buyers are already value shoppers in the luxury market.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Would Genesis buyers then be the extreme couponers of the luxury market?

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Right now, kinda yes – but’s that’s where Lexus started as well.

          The LS400 was launched with the rock-bottom price of $35k – which, at the time, was cheaper than a well-equipped E Class (nevermind the S Class).

          But things will change once Genesis gets its crossovers – of which at least 2 will share their underpinnings with RWD Genesis sedans.

          The Genesis GV80 will still probably undercut the RX (but probably not by much) and likely will go higher in price-range (esp. if it comes available with the Tau V8).

          As for “extreme couponers of the luxury market” – Acura has already taken that mantle (at least among the Asian imports brands).

          The G70, G80 and G90 are higher-priced than the ILX, TLX and RLX.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I’m rooting for Genesis and H/K more upscale offerings in general. The Stinger is a gutsy move and I hope it pays off. I’m not fond of the styling, but the G70 looks quite good (if not quite as unique). And good for Genesis for continuing to offer a V8.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Certainly not besmirching “value-shoppers” as people can differ on what they value when it comes to their rides, esp. in this day and age when the price of autos (esp. if one wants all the “bells and whistles” have been skyrocketing).

            And one can certainly say that a buyer opting for – say, a 4-banger 5 Series instead of opting for a 6 cyl, much less an 8 cyl, from Lexus or another competitor is just as much a “value shopper.”

            The more options there are, the better for the buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “If you want a nicer Toyota buy a Lexus. Only value shoppers would do otherwise”

      You mean only PRICE shoppers would do otherwise.

      Value is not synonymous with price. Price is price, but value is value.

      And I would argue that the VALUE shopper would buy the Lexus.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        For the same reason people argue Acura over Honda, Lincoln over Ford etc is the same reason one would consider Lexus over Toyota. It’s a personal choice based on perceived value of the luxury features.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          I’m not really much of a sedan guy, but I saw midlevel Avalons priced in the low-mid $30k range at dealer lots with just about every conceivable luxury feature. Really a great value.

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    This will be the next big thing at your local VA office. Which is the only place I tend to see Avalons.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    It will be a hatchback and compete with the A5 Sportback . . . in my dreams.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    About two weeks ago, I was a believer in the sedan is dead because of the SUV/CUV. But, recently, I have noticed quite a few new Camrys running around trendy parts of car crazy Southern California. And, they are not rentals. Now, I am not so sure the sedan is dead. SoCal is always a step ahead in auto trends.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Well, with 308,759 sod YTD as of October 2017, it would be hard not to see a new Camry on the streets, even though that is down 5.6% from last years sales of 327,017. Although if you look at most CUV/SUV and of course, pick up sales, you will see that they are still gaining a lead in sales year over year.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        oops, I didn’t get the source in there for some reason. Here is the link…
        http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2017/11/october-2017-ytd-u-s-vehicle-sales-rankings-top-302-best-selling-vehicles-in-america-every-vehicle-ranked/

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I am talking about the all new 2018 Camry. That is the one I am seeing in expensive LA areas. The older Camry, 2017 and older, is not very popular in the high end LA areas. That is what caught my eye.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          I certainly understand the appeal of the 2018 Camry for buyers of this size car who don’t need the badge status.

          The tweaks made to the NA V6 now gives over 300 hp with an increase in MPG. There is a new (non cvt) transmission.

          Fully optioned the Camry has every amenity and nanny that a MB/A/BMW of comparable size has at 1/2 the price.

          My understanding is that the optional sport suspension is reasonably tight for most normal driving. And normal driving is all you are going to achieve between San Diego and Santa Barbara.

          A hybrid version is available at the upper trim levels.

  • avatar
    ser_suress

    that one big grill i ever seen

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Average buyer age – 52 – and the other 50% sold go to National Rent-A-Car.

  • avatar

    Audi was one that came with big gaping mouth. How Avalon compares to A8?

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I’ve said this before but it is a personal beef. Why do manufacturers who have been successful selling to the older generation suddenly try to target a younger demographic? The most common reply is that old guys die off but they are continuously replaced and they generally have accumulated wealth. Not every old guy wants a muscle car or super economy hatchback. Buick and Volvo found this out to their cost. Now Toyota may be about to lose their mature fans. We are all left seeking well kept used S-class MBs.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      I agree. Also there might be a place for a Civic/Corolla sized car with the amenities currently reserved for the Accord/Camry. Namely upgraded interior and all the nannys available. In coastal California urban areas maneuvering and parking cars larger than that is becoming more difficult

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        We know someone who’s 103 years old and, until recently, drove a fully equipped Camry V6 sedan purchased new in 1991 – the same combination of ease of use (small size, good visibility) and lots of amenities relative to other cars.

  • avatar
    John

    For the Avalon’s sake, it might be best to ask to see an HPV test result before eating Virginia.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    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.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    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.


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