QOTD: Eyes Without a Face?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd eyes without a face

Like a normal person, I spent my final waking moments last night reading the comments on Monday’s 2019 Toyota Avalon review. I’m either a masochist or a narcissist.

The new Avalon is a large car with a long list of features, and an even longer list of debatable issues stemming from its revamp, so I hope the review proved useful. Around here (and on Twitter … and maybe on the street, too), I’m known as a the guy with a depraved fetish for large, traditional, conservative sedans. Oh yeah … the staider, the better. Why do you think the powers that be sent me on that first drive?

I wear the badge with pride and, truth be told, I’ve always been a fan of the Avalon — maybe it’s a byproduct of my dear, departed ’94 Camry, combined with a childhood spent watching 1960s and ’70s spy and cop shows. Whatever the cause, there’s nothing unappealing about a roomy, comfy sedan with plenty of power and industry-leading longevity. Dependability, as I’ve said before, isn’t unsexy.

It’s because of these preexisting feelings that I found myself in agreement with a great many of your comments (and there were a great many of them). One complaint kept popping up, though. Based on your feedback, it’s clear the most controversial aspect of the new Avalon is its Eurasia-sized grille.

And no wonder. Aggravating transmission aside, the new Avalon’s biggest gamble is undoubtedly its polarizing face. I was legitimately gobsmacked when it debuted. Ever since that day, I’ve cracked jokes about Toyota going further with this styling trend, extending the grille onto the hood and front fenders.

“Maybe it doesn’t have to end at the front,” I tell my colleagues.

I kid (sort of), but time and exposure turned the Avalon’s mouth from jarring to familiar — for this scribe, anyway. When the 2013 Avalon showed up on the scene, I considered that grille uncomfortably broad, but now it may as well be a Dodge Neon. Time has a way of nurturing acceptance.

Lexus takes a lot of heat for its signature spindle grille, but even those universe-bending openings seem normal now — especially on traditional sedans like the ES and GS. I’ll take a larger grille over a smaller one. Remember when traditional grilles all but disappeared in the early 1990s? The Ovoid Era was not the pinnacle of automotive styling, and I applauded the gradual return to big snouts — though I’m left wondering just how far automakers can take it. Is the new Avalon the high water mark of this trend? Is it even possible to have a larger grille?

Let’s have a show of hands, B&B. Are you firmly on the side of big grilles, or has the trend evolved into one of grotesque excess?

[Image: Toyota]

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2 of 67 comments
  • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on Apr 25, 2018

    I like the Lexus predator, it looks damn good in some of their cars, not som great in some others. Huge grills aren't always bad, but this stinks. I'd like this better as a fish face, with the hood lines culminating in a soft nose based around the Toyota symbol (kind of like the Echo) with the big mouth below it.

  • Moparmann Moparmann on Apr 25, 2018

    I had a surrealistic dream last night: I was racing through a long asphalt tube on some type of pitifully slow unenclosed vehicle, being chased by something with a "squinty eyed, angry, agressive gaping maw". I had nowhere to go, and the tube was non ending. I screamed as it got closer and closer.....and then I woke up! :-)

  • PickupMan Please change the cab dimensions and seating position, Toyota. If you do another sheet metal refresh and slap a large screen on the dash like last time, you're dead to me.
  • Matthew When someone slows down for seemingly no reason at all...and then turns on their blinker and makes a painfully slow turn. It frequently makes me chew them out in Spanish. Spanish just sounds angrier than English.
  • Peter 100% of new Tacomas are now made in Mexico. More of Japan’s ef you sea kay USA.
  • Kendahl A very complicated VW that's 11 years old. A money pit even if it's been well maintained.
  • Kendahl One of the universities where I used to live has an FM station that mostly plays classical music. I would leave the radio turned on and tuned to that. AM? I haven't listened to AM since I got a radio that would receive FM.