By on January 15, 2018

As we told you not too long ago, Toyota’s sticking with its traditional car lineup in the face of declining sales — clinging to it, really. How else could you explain not only the continued existence of the full-size Avalon sedan, but a wholly new generation of it?

That’s what we have here this morning in Detroit. The 2019 Avalon, the fifth-generation of a  lineage dating back to the 1995 model year, is here. It’s longer, lower, wider, faster, thriftier, and plusher than before, while boasting enough technology to impress or confuse just about anyone who might find themselves behind the wheel.

Riding atop Toyota’s modular TNGA platform, the revamped Avalon comes in two flavors: regular and hybrid. A new-generation 3.5-liter V6 of undisclosed power drives non-hybrid models, while an electrified variant of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder found in the new Camry goes to work in the hybrid model.

Both engines share automotive suitors. In the Camry, the V6 makes 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque; the lesser engine, also available with a hybrid in the Camry, makes 203 hp and 184 lb-ft. We’ll have to wait and see if the specs change at all. For 2019, the Avalon ditches its old six-speed transmission for an eight-speed unit with a taller top gear, allowing for low-RPM highway cruising and an uptick in fuel economy. (Tightly-spaced gears in the middle of the range aid in passing.)

Looking at the new Avalon, the most obvious discovery is that Toyota designers somehow managed to find a way to make its grille bigger. The 2019 Avalon’s yawning face chasm is even larger than the previous generation’s gaping maw, and is now available in two colors, depending on trim level. It’s all face, with only some slim LED headlamps infringing upon the model’s whale-sized kisser. Towards the lower corners of the giga-grille, tall, narrow vents improve the model’s aerodynamics but shuttling airflow into the front wheel wells and across the wheel face, preventing drag-inducing turbulence.

Yes, it’s a slipperier car, both on paper and in the flesh. Coefficient of drag, at 0.27, bests last year’s model (0.28). The nod to aerodynamics is seen in the Avalon’s bodyside lines, especially the strong character line that broadens like a valve towards the rear flanks, and the scalloping seen along the lower body. A rear spoiler and “substantial” underbody panel coverage aids in the car’s fuel-sipping mission.

Elsewhere, weight savings were found wherever possible, and engineers shored up any sources of excess energy loss. Power drain in the hybrid transaxle has supposedly shrunk by 20 percent, and the cooling system’s energy loss is now down 10 percent. If that wasn’t enough, Toyota’s new Auto Glide Control maximizes the range of the vehicle’s coasting — another nod to efficiency.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you the fuel-consumption figure Toyota’s shooting for. But customers seem much less likely to be interested in that area than the Environmental Protection Agency. Clearly, comfort and convenience are the hallmarks of a near-premium vehicle, and the Avalon’s reshaped body handles the first half of that equation. Wheelbase stretches a further 2 inches, but the passenger cabin stretches an extra seven inches, forcing engineers to add 2.2 inches to the quarter glass and C-pillar. Overhangs, both front and rear, shrink.

The Avalon’s headlights and taillights undergo a complete revamp, with the rear clusters  sending out all information from an interconnected line of LEDs. In the front, LED Vision Tech lamps tap a number of reflectors and thin lighting modules for a all-seeing nighttime experience. There’s two new technologies here. Adaptive LED Corning Lamps assist drivers while making a turn by lighting, as needed, the surrounding environment. Meanwhile, the brand’s Dynamic Auxiliary Turn Signal lights the signal’s individual diodes in a sequential fashion, calling even more attention to your impending course change.

Inside, soft-touch materials abound, mingling with real and engineered wood trim, plus aluminum trim. Toyota promises best-in-class shoulder, leg and headroom in the spacious cabin. “Cognac” joins the leather roster as a new grade/color, while similar changes are afoot in the Ultrasuede and Softex realms. It shouldn’t be too hard to ensure a proper coddling.

For infotainment, a 9-inch touch screen with “pinch and slide” functionality sits atop a redesigned, tablet-like center stack; drivers also get a 7-inch multi-information display in the gauge cluster. Top-level Touring models see four drive modes (instead of three) and receive Toyota’s Adaptive Variable Suspension as standard kit. This system adjusts damping in 20 milliseconds. For trims not endowed with AVS, spring and stabilizer bar stiffness increases across the board.

Naturally, there safety aids to spare — the full Safety Sense P suite of technologies lands in the Avalon buyer’s lap.

Amazingly, Toyota decided buyers needed even more excitement while behind the wheel of an Avalon, so the automaker did something unusual. In Sport + mode, the vehicle boosts its exhaust note with a series of baffles, amplifying the drone, rumblr, or burble via the stereo system’s speakers. There’s also an intake sound generator, just so the concert includes breathing.

How such a system made its way into an Avalon is hard to fathom. The Avalon’s a safe, solid vehicle that traditionally appeals to sensible geriatrics who don’t like breakdowns or anything too fancy. Just how many new, younger buyers Toyota could poach with its new model remains a mystery. The passenger car market, and especially the full-size segment, is plummeting towards zero.

Avalon sales sank 52 percent in the U.S. in December, year-over-year. Volume in 2017 was 18.7 percent lower than in 2016, and 53.5 percent lower than the Avalon’s best post-recession year, 2013.

The 2019 Toyota Avalon hits dealer lots in late spring of this year. Pricing has yet to be announced.

[Images: Toyota]

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81 Comments on “2019 Toyota Avalon: Open Wide for a Modern, and More Aggressive Boulevard Cruiser...”

  • avatar

    “There’s also an intake sound generator, just so the concert includes breathing.”

    Shark jumped! The purchaser of the Avalon-class vehicle does not want engine noise. Nor have they any use for quad exhausts.

    And the exterior is worse than it was before, with that gaping mouth at the front. The images also suggest uneven panel gaps for the doors.

    There are too many textures going on with the leather on the interior, and it’s not harmonious.

    I *REALLY* don’t like this.

    • 0 avatar

      “In Sport + mode, the vehicle boosts its exhaust note with a series of baffles, amplifying the drone, rumblr, or burble via the stereo system’s speakers. There’s also an intake sound generator, just so the concert includes breathing.”

      lol – WUT?

      I agree Corey, nobody is going to be running out to the parking lot and pushing “Sport +” after polishing off the blue plate special and rushing to bingo.

      • 0 avatar

        I think they are trying to push this as a Maxima competitor now. Grandpa should probably head over to Lincoln, Genesis, or the Impala.

        • 0 avatar

          Just b/c Toyota claims its “sporty” doesn’t mean that it is; they said the same thing about the current Avalon (as well as the ES) and all they succeeded in doing was ruining their once compliant ride (making it brittle).

          And why the Impala and not the LaCrosse?

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota saw the Q50 Red Sport and decided the Avalon needed a piece of that action.

        They are apparently under the assumption now that it’s not okay for a car to be simple and comfortable. Yet while they will alienate the older sedan customer who has previously gravitated to the model, they will -not- draw the younger ones they seek with this sort of setup.

        My money would head right over to Genesis, as their cars can be authentically comfortable and do not have such ridiculous faux-sports styling.

      • 0 avatar

        Jeez. I’m a couple of years away from blue plate specials and bingo, and I rode the Lexus train for about 10 years, and always thought the Avalon might make the short list as I drove into the sunset.

        That freaking front end is a train wreck of a styling nightmare, even worse than the Camry (man that is one of the ugliest grilles I’ve seen in several years), and now they are going to pipe in engine noise through the speakers?

        OMG (learned that from my kids), in an earlier life I was a recording engineer- I can only imagine the CF that was occurring when they were “tuning it” in the control room.

        “We need more cowbell”!

      • 0 avatar

        Let me get this right. Sport + mode doesn’t do anything but play artificial intake and exhaust sounds from the speakers?

        Is this what the world has come to? Really?

        I’m waiting for Someone to come up with “Hybrid + Mode” where the car artificially shows a pretend battery and hybrid range.

      • 0 avatar

        you are so wrong. i’m 33, and would like a full-size sedan that is comfort oriented, yet nominally sporty, with a pleasant exhaust sound on occasion.

        problem with this car though is it’s interior. it’s ridiculous. i dont know who it’s for.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Very odd direction for this car, but I can only assume Toyota conducted market research that suggested this was the way to go. I guess. I’d have never looked at a traditional Avalon, but this has me somewhat interested.

      The four tailpipes are silly, both here and Camry. 3.5L V6s do not warrant quad exhausts in an era of sub-6 second 0-60 runs being rather commonplace. Should’ve put those on the 2007 bathtub Avalon when it was an unusually quick car.

      • 0 avatar

        Very odd direction for this car, but I can only assume Toyota conducted market research that suggested this was the way to go.

        Yes apparently those kids with fart canned Scions are now ready to settle down and start taking their Baby Momma’s for nice dinners and dancing cheek to cheek.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Doesn’t make sense to me either, but the outgoing Avalon was a departure from the one before it, and sales doubled.

          The Impala hits that traditional large sedan target more effectively and its sales have fallen quite a bit since its 2014 introduction despite gains in the overall auto industry.

        • 0 avatar

          I still expect I’d like the Camry V6 more, and this is still FWD, but it is close enough to my beloved H-body Bonnevilles that I’m kind of interested.

          Big, loudish (maybe?), 300hp, quad pipes, Toyota badge, sport+ mode, styling that doesn’t appeal to 70 year olds. If it is fast enough, I could dig it.

        • 0 avatar

          theyll be walking throught the park, strolling in the dark and reminiscing…

        • 0 avatar

          Dan, the 1958 Edsel had been the most researched new car to that date.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t like it either (it’s ugly), and the sound enhancer is a dumb idea, but with respect, Corey, you might be making an invalid assumption about what the average Avalon buyer wants.

      Assuming that average buyer is somewhere between my age (54) or a bit older, you’re talking about someone who came of age in the ’70s or ’80s. What was cool to drive in those days? It wasn’t the brougham floatmobile – that’s what our dads drove, it pretty much sucked. People my age or bit older aspired to a BMW, or a Benz. Those aren’t “traditional” luxury cars.

      So…yeah, someone who’s 75 might not dig something big and (a little) sporty. But a 65-year-old guy probably will.

      (As long as you can turn off the sound enhancer, of course…)

      • 0 avatar

        Hmm, but in those days a European ride was quite expensive, and a possession of great status.

        This is just a big Toyota, which is much less prestigious and much more affordable. It has no Teutonic pretensions, no matter what parts they glue onto it!

        And said person can afford a BMW or Mercedes now, as they’re available in the same price range as the Avalon.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah, and that bottom-line BMW or Mercedes will be a ghastly piece of crap, compared to the Avalon.

          (Also, I see a fair number of Avalons being driven by middle-aged people, not fogies.

          Fogies seem to want something with more upright seating, as was foretold in the prophecy.)

    • 0 avatar

      Everybody says we are bland and boring. Let’s hire some anime artists to design our cars. We are the new Speed Racer!

      If they could lower that maw a few inches, it could be a snow plow and an ad for Gilette’s new 9 blade razor.

    • 0 avatar

      Is Toyota *capable* of a grille that isn’t a monstrosity, anymore?

    • 0 avatar

      How bad can the Avalon and Camry be? Both these cars almost single handily put Detroit out of the family sedan business.

      • 0 avatar

        Well it’s a bit more complicated than that – like with changing consumer taste variables, an oil crisis, etc.

        But the Japanees cars we have today are far removed from the 1992 versions which crushed the American competition.

        • 0 avatar

          The Japanese are still building superior cars and trucks. Just look at the reliability surveys. Toyota is doing so well financially they don’t have to cancel their carlines like Ford and Chrysler have done. A Ford show room to me looks depressingly one dimensional. All I see there is a bunch of square looking trucks and SUVs.

  • avatar

    Toyota really expends a lot of effort to make their cars so ugly. And that hood seam just north of the grill. Camrys and Corollas from a decade ago did that. Make that go away. Even my family crapbox 78′ Chevette managed to make a nice one-piece curved transition from the hood to the grille.

    • 0 avatar

      WE have very different opinions of ugly. I’d buy that car if it wasn’t so slow and lame. Its a darn good looking car IMHO.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, the underbite on the new Avalon is ridiculous. Just when car designers are starting to minimize the grille, Toyota has to go the full monty and take it to 11… and the results speak for themselves.

      Other than that, I kind of like the interior. But at least 75 more HP are needed to compete. HP sells.

  • avatar

    I don’t know that I want “sensible geriatrics” monkeying around with that “pinch & slide” touchscreen while heading out for the early bird special. The styling is quite aggressive for a Toyota.

  • avatar

    I think I’ll stick to the Camry XSE.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s another one that got hit by the Toyota Styling Ugly Stick. Not crazy about the build quality on the Camry either.

      No thanks.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t like the horizontal grille on the LE/XLE, but “web” XSE front end is okay. It’s a little bit Pontiac, and that was my jam back in the day. I already own a Dodge, so build-quality isn’t priority #1 as long as things aren’t breaking.

        The Toyota selling point for me is the 3.5L.

  • avatar

    Now that is a nice looking Camry and another reason to not buy a Lexus. Test drove a Camry over the weekend at my local auto show. Did Toyota build the first car without actually using a human? Buttons everywhere on the dash, and extremely uncomfortable front seats.
    The Accord will win this round of sales this year even with so many Camry’s going to fleet sales.

  • avatar

    Have we reached peak grill yet?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like it from some angles, and not at all from others. And, yes, I agree with those of you who are perplexed by all the sport features.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not. Assuming the average buyer for this car is around 60, you’re talking about someone who grew up when a European sports sedan was a cool ride.

      I bet you there are PLENTY of folks in that age range that might like something big, comfy and fast, with a dash of “sport.”

      Too bad the styling on this car is ugly, though…

      • 0 avatar

        “I bet you there are PLENTY of folks in that age range that might like

        >something big, comfy and fast, with a dash of “sport.” <

        … and the Chrysler 300S is ready to serve. You get all of that, and more. All without the horrid exercise in over-styling.

        (In case anyone would point out the FWD vs RWD apples/oranges, The 300's AWD setup is something dreams are made of. It's there if/when needed and goes away quietly when its not… no driver interaction required.)

        • 0 avatar

          But aren’t they, if they’re in that age range, of the “Toyotas are super reliable goodness” and “Chrysler? You gotta be kidding me?” mindset?

          (I mean, I’m not that old, and you’d have to *pay me* to own a Chrysler product.

          Note, I say this as someone who *likes* Jeeps and the idea of a giant V8 sedan.)

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Quite a transformation this car has taken since the 2007-2012 old school float-boat buick model. Piped-in exhaust burble? Are *all* of the traditional customers buying CUVs now?

    I like the overall proportions and silhouette. Long, low, linear with a generous-looking greenhouse. The grill? Kind of numb to it at this point. What I want is to be surprised. Make the WHOLE FASCIA a giant rectangular grille with some headlights and turn indicators floating inside it. Preferably behind the strakes where they are completely invisible until lit.

    Not sure if I find the swooping skyscraper center stack to be an improvement upon the floating iPad look of other cars, but it makes for fewer contours and surfaces to dust.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    You know it wouldn’t be bad if it just had the grill portion between the headlights and the rest was just a bumper cover.

    I guess we have come full circle from the early 90s when cars like the Q45 and even the Crown Victoria eliminated their grills all together. I owned a string of grilleless cars to include an MN-12 Thunderbird and a first gen Saturn for a while.

  • avatar

    This is now a contender when I replace my Taurus – either this or a Continental; this looks like it would be definitely more affordable. The nose looks like a reasonable translation from Lexus – so we know this is the company that sells Lexus, but that this is not a Lexus.

    I expect it will continue to be made in Kentucky, so then I just have to figure out if that’s “Japanese built, American made” or “American built, Japanese made”.

    I like the remark on the Wikipedia article now – an homage to the Plymouth Fury.

  • avatar

    The fenders and hood need to be grille, too.

  • avatar

    Seven more inches in the passenger compartment? As a ‘sensible geriatric’, that sounds sensible to me for ferrying family around.
    As for Sub-600’s concern over the touch and pinch screen, set the goddam thing and keep hands off after engaging gear (and hopefully brain). There are amusing/appalling videos of people falling into fountains, open manholes, etc while preoccupied with snapbooking and facechatting on their smart phones. Those people aren’t geriatrics, suggesting geriatrics have a better sense of their own limitations.
    But, yeah, that grille is a disaster. Why did Toyota have to hire the designers of Lincoln’s baleen grilles?

  • avatar

    WOW this car jumps so many sharks. That grille is grotesque and will go down in history of being “peak grille” across all makes and models. TOO MUCH. The sporting pretensions are embarrassing. Someone above mentioned Toyota probably tested such features with focus groups. I think Toyota’s problem is they take focus groups too literally. I’m sure they surveyed older women, like my sweet mother, who is always the first to say she “likes sporty.” To her, “sporty” means a sunroof, red paint, and a spoiler. That’s it. I’d bet most of the “grounded to the ground” brigade would agree. They don’t need fake exhaust burbles.

    Everything about this car is just such overkill and desperate. If the Avalon was a woman, this facelift pushes her well into Jocelyn Wildenstein territory.

    I DO like how they threw in sequential LED turn signals as an added touch of extra – it steals Audi’s thunder by putting it on a dorky, desperate car.

  • avatar

    The automotive equivalent of a Hoover. Also, that interior is ugly.

  • avatar

    It’s bigger inside BUT can you get in and out of this car without hitting your head ???? :=)

    • 0 avatar

      It has been reported that up to several people have been able to pull that amazing stunt off, in similarly proportioned vehicles, over the years. Probably the same amazing people who can operate doorknobs and stuff. But still….

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man


    Never mind the ridiculous grille… no Avalon (or Impala, or Lacrosse, or Cadenza) should EVER be equipped with a trunk lid spoiler. Even a very small one.

  • avatar

    On one hand, this car was going to make or break the large FWD sedan segment, and it breaks it with authority.

    On the other hand, most older people are either buying crossovers or pickups, the ones who can still contort themselves into a traditional car and want a sedan want sporty (which a truck can’t do) and masculine (which a crossover can’t do)

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    At the risk of being killed by an angry mob, I kinda like it. It’s better looking than the Camry, and they could be going for a “big, soft, fast, quiet” mantra with polarizing looks thrown in. Given how ugly everything else is, especially on the CUV front, this actually stands out as fairly stylish.

    And Toyota said they were phasing out a large swath of Japan-only models. I can’t believe no one noticed the front-end “grille” is a dead ringer for the pattern off the Crown Athlete. I wonder if this was intended more for a JDM audience than a shrinking North American one?

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on first paragraph

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t mind it, either. The design does the “long, stately limo with an in your face nose” look, that signals power and “success” these days, just as well as the A8, 7, S or LS. To a visitor from space, with no preconceived notion about the badge, and no buff book telling him to care about driven wheels, number of cylinders nor 0-60 times; they’re all largely interchangeable in the (sub)urban rush-hour Grand Prix: Bigger than the Jones’ regular car, with grille area to cool a Veyron doing bollards pulls, and a burbling, “sporty” exhaust to complement the driver’s low-T treatment regime. Possibly checks some higher Uber/Lyft class box as well. And Avalons have always been good chauffeured cars, for those who want a driver without looking like those who have a driver.

  • avatar

    All great comments. Grill, sound enhancer, spoiler all are just weird on this car.

    I really don’t have any hard data about who has purchased Avalons over the past 20 years but anecdotally the owners I knew could have easily afforded an S class or LS4xx but chose not to spend that kind of money or project that image when purchasing a car. Like it or not the car you drive does project and image and there are any number of people out there who don’t want an Audi, BMW or MBZ badge on there vehicle.

    Not a lot left out there for those sedan buyers. I imagine they might migrate to the Genesis or a fully optioned Lexus ES.

  • avatar
    Mike Batty

    How many seniors want piped in exhaust gurgle? The features do not match the demographics of the brand. Exterior has too much going on. The interior in the new shade is dynamite to this viewer. I look at the interior more than the exterior so put me down for one of these in two years.

  • avatar

    Who is going to buy this? I guess, those modern seniors who not longer capable of driving a Corolla because of back pain.

    Again. I feel (feel!) it is going to be market disaster but I like to look at it. I like cars that are not rounded.

  • avatar

    If I were shopping in this vehicle class I would betray my life-long commitment to Japanese manufacturers and purchase a Lincoln Continental.

  • avatar

    The current VW Passat appeals to me more with each model introduction from Toyota.
    The Germans understand the term “less is more”.

  • avatar

    This really makes our ’99 Avalon XLS look pretty, even in 90s champagne beige.

  • avatar

    Ladies and Germs behold: The 2019 Toyota Aztek. Is this is an answer to a question that nobody asked? Or an abortion that lived?

  • avatar


    When grandpa’s new sedan loses the “tastefully sized grill” award to a Ram pick-up, you’ve done something wrong.

    This thing screams “trying too hard,” and think it will be an absolute flop.

  • avatar

    Yuck…the outgoing Avalon was one of the few Toyota products I found appealing. This shares a trait with the new Camry that makes me nuts…the windshield AND back glass both seem to taper inward toward the top, so the pillars are shaped “funny”. It especially bugs on on the A-pillar…why on earth does it get wider/thicker toward the top and taper at the base?!? The rear 3/4 view shows the same effect on the back pillar.

    The size of the car still appeals to me, and I like the lack of snob appeal with a brand like Toyota, but they lost me with this one. I’ll likely be headed back to my friendly VW store next time.

  • avatar

    I’ve steered some fellow oldsters (coming out of fwd Caddys and Buicks) toward the Avalon, but this is too rad for them I’d think, especially that front end.

  • avatar

    Nice interior, nice Chevy Impala side profile, but that front end looks like something out of a Wallace and Gromit cartoon. How does anyone think that grill is attractive or have any element of grace and taste?

    This one will have to sell on the badge alone, not because the owner was bewitched by its beauty.

  • avatar

    Among other things, namely that some Japan-imé monster/pond-scum whatever/Godzilla-spawn got loose in Toyota’s styling studio, it occurs to me that some designer at the Gentex corporation without a sense of style (or some weird obsession with goth clowns) is running things, because the company has got to be making a killing!

    That grotesquely-styled, cheap-feeling (yes, I tried adjusting one in a new Odyssey), “smiley” electrochromic auto-dimming mirror is infecting the automakers like a cancer! First Honda/Acura, then Subaru, then FCA (new Jeep Wrangler and Ram pickups), and now Toyota!

    Just as with the abomination in which the mirror is placed, apparently ugly sells!

  • avatar

    Toyota has nothing to worry about. The Avalon, Camry, and Corolla are the best selling cars in their class. Even their trucks and SUV are superior in quality. I guess it is a sport to try to bring down the top dog. The auto press made a sport of trying to bring down GM when it was king of the hill.

    With the exception of the Corvette, Toyota does just about everything better than GM. You all know this to be true.

  • avatar

    Oh boy, yet another iteration of the Toyota model trying to break into the Buick(my late husband told me to buy only Buicks, but my middle-aged son told me to look at Toyotas/ dear, too many Big Mac meals-I don’t fit in a Camry seat, let’s see if Toyota offers a model as accomodating as that Park Ave I used to have) market. Make a wide, 50″ long white belt standard in every Avalon. Toyota, you had me at Corolla, Camry, and RAV4. Nay Nay on Avalon, Torrance boys.

  • avatar

    I used to see a pretty girl driving an old but pristine white Avalon on my way to work every so often. I picture this thing being driven by the creature from Predator.

    They gave it a bigger mouth and now it farts. Thanks, Toyota.

  • avatar

    The new Avalon sedan is for buyers who want to fake like they are going crazy! It sort question the sanity of the owner by those who see the new Avalon and try to figure out why he/she purchase this vehicle! It is going be loads of attention getting drive it around! Toyota real did a number on the new Avalon! I just might pull the trigger! LOL!

  • avatar
    Andrew Stravitz

    Please fix the giant front hideous grille and we can consider the car – it hurts my eyes to look at it. What were they thinking???

  • avatar

    That grille is a cheap plastic abomination…way out of proportion to the rest of the body. Are those guys at the Calty design center serious? The front fascia went from bad in previous generation to ludicrous.
    Too bad because the rest of it has a brawny bold substantial, and sleek, look.

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