2019 Toyota Avalon Touring - Road Warrior

Fast Facts

2019 Toyota Avalon Touring

3.5-liter V6, DOHC (301 hp @ 6600 rpm, 267 lb-ft. @ 4700 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
22 city / 31 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
10.9 city / 7.6 highway / 9.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
25.9 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $43,120 US / $49,666 CAD
As Tested: $44,913 US/ $49,921 CAD
Prices include $920 destination charge in the United States and $1877 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 toyota avalon touring road warrior

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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  • Hamtrelvis Hamtrelvis on Aug 11, 2019

    Does anyone know whether the 2020 Lexus ES350 will have a touchscreen? The Lexus appeals to me more than the Avalon, but the 2019 model has the 'spawn of satan' touchpad that nobody wants. I've searched the web for news about next year's model but could find nothing.

  • MorrisGray MorrisGray on Oct 03, 2019

    Excellent idea to cover up the grill with after market accessories. I was thinking even a front end bra would help! :) I have not been to look at either the Avalon or the ES but I have been considering both for my next purchase. If I am correct they both run on 87 octane gas and they both have the same motor but the ES is tuned differently and is rated at slightly higher hp. I read somewhere that the ES shifts much better. I also understand that the Avalon has fold down rear seats but the ES does not, it only has a pass thru I believe. I am not sure what you get with a Lexus purchase but Toyota is giving you a 2yr/25k mile free maintenance plan at no extra cost. I like the looks of the Lexus better but I also hear that the same replacement parts would be more expensive on the Lexus when warranty is over or due to any damages you may incur. Please correct me on anything I may have stated if you know differently.

  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
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