2019 Toyota Avalon Touring - Road Warrior
2019 Toyota Avalon Touring
You’ve seen the type. The solo diner, eating while working through emails at the restaurant or FaceTiming with their kids while in the lobby of the Hampton Inn out by the interstate. The salespeople, making the wheels of commerce and commission turn with each mile glued to the windshield, travelling the highways in search of the next big sale.
These professional drivers don’t need a CDL, though many log enough miles in a year to rival some truckers. They need a comfortable, dependable steed that doesn’t warrant a second thought – it just does exactly what they need.
While many Willy Lomans have moved to midsized crossovers for their work vehicles, there is something comforting and familiar to a big sedan for slogging multiple hours on the highway. Had I had a choice back when I was out on the road for work, something like this 2019 Toyota Avalon would have been ideal. A trunk, hiding whatever samples I was carrying from prying eyes, is something you don’t get in some me-too crossover.
Aside from the grille, this is an attractive sedan. I look forward to the refresh in a couple years when (God willing) someone within Toyota decides their flagship sedan shouldn’t look like a Big Mouth Billy Bass wall plaque gnawing on an eggcrate. Worse yet, the shut line of the hood leaves a distracting strip of sheetmetal above that grille. I normally prefer more distinctive colors on a car, but this is one situation where dark, muted hues will go a long way in hiding the Avalon’s massive mouth.
I dig, however, the subtle sporty touches elsewhere. The gloss black mirrors and decklid spoiler sound like they would be rather downmarket – I recall the entry trim of my mother’s 1990 Corolla having a single driver’s side mirror clad in flat black plastic. Here, it’s beautifully done, and will impress any clients our hero needs to take to dinner.
The interior is similarly classy. While the materials are clearly a step down in quality from the similar Lexus ES, I’d wager that the Softex material will be easier to live with over the long haul. Front seat comfort is impressive for long days on the turnpike. Rear seats take advantage of the 1.8 inch increase in wheelbase from the Camry, as improbably the Avalon has 2.3 inches of additional rear legroom. Those clients will not struggle to get comfortable.
The 16.1 cubic feet of trunk space is both deep and wide, allowing for plenty of options on arranging cargo. I know that when I was on the road, I’d have boxes of sample materials, a crate of catalogs, a suitcase, and a set of golf clubs in the tail of my company-provided car – and any extra space was always welcome.
Driving the Avalon brings to mind one word – relaxed. While the big V6 does indeed produce 301 horsepower, it’s power that will never be used to its full potential. Other than pulling away from toll booths and other general merging needs, this engine will be loafing in as high a gear as possible under 2,000 rpm. In those situations, all is quiet and calm. Road and wind noise is subdued, except when an unusually textured road allows the tires to transmit odd hums into the cabin. The ride is plush and composed, giving respite to the tired driver.
As I mentioned it before, some might ask why one would buy this over the very similar Lexus ES. Both are excellent cars with very similar mechanical bits and comfort features. Lexus, for the extra money, does offer real leather seats (available on the Avalon Limited model, should one choose) and a typically better dealership experience. For my money – and for our imaginary salesperson looking to buy a car to make the job easier – I’d point at the Toyota Avalon due to one simple feature: the infotainment controls.
The Toyota uses a simple touchscreen, while the Lexus uses a touchpad on the console. When I was on the road, I often found myself stopping to scrawl in a notebook while on the phone. The real estate on the console where my right hand would naturally fall is ideal for taking notes, but in the Lexus, it’s occupied by that touchpad. In that case, should you accidentally touch some buttons while writing, you could easily toggle navigation – or worse, hang up on that big client. The touchscreen in the Avalon will gather more fingerprints – sometimes smeared with french fry grease – but that’s easy enough to wipe down when needed.
Hire me to go out on the road, and I’m looking hard at an Avalon. I’d likely stick with this midrange Touring trim, adding the $1,150 Advanced Safety package that gives a bird’s eye view camera for street parking in unfamiliar cities, as well as rear cross-traffic braking. I’d add the $248 all weather floor liners and cargo tray, since salt from those errant french fries can be annoying to vacuum out of carpets. Paint it a nice deep blue – Parisian Night Pearl – to hide that grille.
Hitting the open road to chase sales isn’t glamorous. Beyond the driving, it’s a life of talking to reluctant buyers while managing indigestion from that cheap hotel continental breakfast (since management won’t let you put breakfast on your expense report). Making the miles as hassle-free as possible is paramount to these road warriors, and there are few cars that do it better than this Toyota Avalon.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC, screenshot courtesy Toyota.com]
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