By on April 2, 2020

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited Fast Facts

2.5-liter four-cylinder/electric generator motor/electric drive motor (215 net system horsepower; 176 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 163 lb-ft @ 3,600-5,200 rpm)

Continuously-variable automatic transmission, front-wheel drive

43 city / 43 highway / 43 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

N/A (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $42,800 (U.S) / N/A (Canada)

As Tested: $45,118 (U.S.) / N/A (Canada)

Prices include $920 destination charge in the United States. The hybrid version of the Avalon is not available in Canada.

Time was, you couldn’t pay me to drive a Toyota Avalon.

Okay, that’s not true – part of this job I’m paid to do requires me to drive cars and review them. Including many vehicles that would never be on my wish list.

Allow me to rephrase, then: There was a time I wouldn’t have driven an Avalon unless I was being paid.

Times change.

The current Avalon, and the hybrid model featured here, are worlds different from what came before. Once known as a snoozer meant for old men who couldn’t afford a Lexus and didn’t want a Buick, the Avalon did take a strong leap forward with the previous generation. For the first time, I found myself saying, “Hey, this isn’t too bad.” But it wasn’t until the fifth-gen car launched that I could say, with a straight face, that I’d not kick the car out of my driveway (if I had a driveway, that is).

[Get new and used car Toyota Avalon Hybrid pricing here!]

Avalon has always occupied a weird place in the Toyota/Lexus family – it sits in that space between the Camry and the Lexus ES, using parts of both. Yet it’s a bit more than just a larger, more expensive Camry or a cheaper ES.

The near-luxury mid-size sedan segment is an odd one, and a bit anachronistic in this day and age of crossovers. That doesn’t mean there aren’t solid offerings, and the Avalon presents a case for itself.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

For one, the looks are meaner and sportier – less Sansabelt, more leather jacket. Styled less aggressively than the Camry or ES, the Avalon nonetheless fits in the family photo. It looks like it means business – which is something I never thought I’d type about an Avalon.

I also never thought I’d praise an Avalon for its on-road behavior, but here we are. Toyota has injected life into the steering, at least relative to what’s expected from a mid-size entry-lux sedan. It’s no sports sedan, and I doubt it would do well on a Southern California canyon road, but for urban driving it’s firm enough to remind you that you’re actually engaged in the act of driving.

Yes, there’s some plow and body roll if you attack an off-ramp too aggressively, reminding you you’re driving a large FWD sedan, but it’s muted well enough to be livable.

The ride is firmed up but still comfy for a multi-state freeway cruise, and while the car is far from a blazer – it’s a heavy sedan with only 163 lb-ft of torque on tap – you can at least merge with confidence.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

Smooth without being soft is the name of the game here. Even the hybrid system is mostly seamless in operation – although its machinations are somewhat noticeable at lower speeds. Similarly, the continuously variable automatic transmission is generally well behaved.

That hybrid system mates the four-cylinder gas engine to two electric motors. One is a generator motor used for charging the battery and starting the engine, the other drives the front wheels and provides regeneration during braking.

Inside, comfort remains a priority, and the seats are suited for the long haul. I did find the vertical center stack looked like a tacky afterthought, with materials that seemed a bit low rent. As befits a big car, interior room and cargo room are cavernous. The Avalon swallowed a load of large signs made up for a media event with ease.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

My Limited-trim test unit started at close to $43K, and most features, save carpeted floor mats and one equipment package, were standard.

Those features included 18-inch wheels, Toyota’s SafetySense suite of driver’s aids (includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and radar cruise control), blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cornering LED headlamps, power tilt and slide moonroof, dual-zone climate control, premium audio, Bluetooth, navigation, USB port, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, head-up display, heated power tilt/telescope steering wheel, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, wireless cell-phone charging, and keyless entry and starting.

The $1,150 Advanced Safety Package includes sonar, bird’s-eye-view camera, and rear cross-traffic alert with braking. The carpeted floor mats ran $248.

2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited

With the $920 destination fee, the total came to $45,118.

That price kind of creeps into Lexus territory, which is a bit of a problem. In a vacuum, however, the Avalon has shed its early-dinner transport roots and made a mostly successful transition into being a mid-luxury car that isn’t boring.

It’s the kind of car that knows what it is and what it isn’t, and how to perform its mission well. That, in this case, is more than enough.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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35 Comments on “2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid – Still Smooth, No Longer Soft...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    It’s interesting how that grille becomes reminiscent of some 1940’s vintage cars and yet that simply looks hideous on this low-slung sedan. My personal viewpoint is that Toyota has been making its cars and those of the Lexus brand uglier by the year in their effort to make them more unique. They certainly don’t NEED that much intake area and as a result, this full-frontal grille is repulsive, rather than attractive.

    For the same money, I’d rather have a Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      cardave5150

      I’ve noticed that, too. For the last 15-20 years, the only time a Toyota/Lexus looks good to me is once it’s replacement comes out. In comparison, the older one is better looking.

      Also WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT INTERIOR???? It looks like it’s been half-covered in Band-Aids.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      When I see the grille I think of a guy who puts his face out into a 150 mph wind (like in an open cockpit) and his mouth is forced open and flapping. Lol.

    • 0 avatar

      “Uniquely ugly” sounds good to me. But what matters is it reliable or not. Other things are not important.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      I agree about the ugly front styling. Why can’t the aftermarket step up and provide an attractively-styled replacement front grill/bumper cover for these Lexus and Toyota models?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Whoa – that dashboard and center stack are horrible.

    For a cleaner look and more conventional drivetrain, I’d go for a Cadenza, and leftover 19s are now priced at $29k.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      They just use the same touchscreen radio setup in their other cars, like the 2020 Corolla, but stick it atop the center stack, instead of atop the dash pad.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Agreeing with you about the interior. That center stack looks like somebody forgot about the center touchscreen and the design committee came up with a solution. Designers: The center screen must be integrated into the dash. Very few of the add-on look designs work in my opinion.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    With gas prices what they are, there’s really no reason not to get the excellent V6 instead, save some money, and enjoy a better car.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      For some of us, saving gas is more important than saving money. No different than choosing leather seating instead of cloth. But I can’t take exception with your comment about Toyota’s V6 – even the earlier iterations were superb.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    A car wreck would instantly make this thing look better. And that interior – looks like Ford’s design team from the Explorer worked on the inside. ghastly!

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    That 2-tone interior is just terrible.

    This is one instance where I’d probably say find a way to get the ES, or get a lower trim ES.

    Looks better, Lexus and all the positives with that.

    Frankly with this virus and economic fallout, I can’t imagine Toyota keeping the Avalon around again. Unless it is really minor/cheap to build it off the Camry. But I don’t know that even Toyota has a reason to stay in the full-size game. Isn’t everyone else about done by now?

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Interior designed by TARS or CASE from Interstellar. With inspiration from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    Is that center dashboard thing REALLY that big? It looks ghastly.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Still ugly too.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So the LeSabre never really went out of production…

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Hack off the mouth, create a solid bumper cover and the front would almost be tolerable. The trend back to trunk length taillights is already past its sell-by date. That two tone interior kind of works for me, but that stack is a bit busy.

    With all that said, I can understand why Toyota sticks to the near lux mid-size segment. They’re hedging their bets for the moment when all crossovers all the time eases up and then they can hit ’em where they ain’t. There will always be a contingent of folks who don’t want a crossover, but want a new car. Why not have one company catering to them?

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The Avalon is cheap to produce for Toyota, given that its margins are good. It’s basically just a Toyota-badged and American-built stretch Camry, and the stretch is affordable because the same stretch platform is used to build the solid-selling and hlghly profitable ES.

    I sat in one of these and was really disappointed that just as in the current Camry it’s based on, this car’s console seriously intrudes on a taller driver’s right leg. There’s really no excuse for it.

    As for looks, obviously they’re subjective. My view is that the previous Avalon was really clean, graceful and well-proportioned. As fish-mouthed as the grille is on the current edition, even worse for me is what happens at the C pillar and rearward. The car looks like it’s breaking off and sagging to the ground just behind the back door. It’s an utterly ungraceful set of lines that looks like it’d get a C- in design school. Worse yet, I think the Camry exterior is really well done in most regards, which means you can avoid this eyesore for thousands less.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The Avalon is cheap to produce for Toyota, given that its margins are good. It’s basically just a Toyota-badged and American-built stretch Camry, and the stretch is affordable because the same stretch platform is used to build the solid-selling and hlghly profitable ES.

    I sat in one of these and was really disappointed that just as in the current Camry it’s based on, this car’s console seriously intrudes on a taller driver’s right leg. There’s really no excuse for it.

    As for looks, obviously they’re subjective. My view is that the previous Avalon was really clean, graceful and well-proportioned. As fish-mouthed as the grille is on the current edition, even worse for me is what happens at the C pillar and rearward. The car looks like it’s been broken off and reattached just behind the back door. It’s an utterly ungraceful set of lines that looks like it’d get a C- in design school. Worse yet, I think the Camry exterior is really well done in most regards, which means you can avoid this eyesore for thousands less.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    If I have to drive a Japanese luxury barge give me a clean low mile LS430 any day of the week over this.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Toyota purposely makes this car ugly so buyers will pay extra money to get a Lexus with somewhat more tasteful grill.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Toyota purposely makes this car ugly so buyers will pay extra money to get a Lexus with somewhat more tasteful grill.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Avalon used to be the official vehicle for males who have given up on life. But now Toyota has lost the plot.

    4th gen (2013-2018MY) started the heavily-restyled-to-satisfy-automotive-journalists trend, this 5th gen (2019-) takes it a step further.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Avalon

    Avalon U.S. sales were 95,318 in 2005CY. Declined through the ‘Great Recession’ but got a lift back to 70,990 in 2013. No big sales lift with the 2019 model. Plot lost.
    https://carsalesbase.com/us-toyota-avalon/

    2019CY sales = 27,767 (but you get favorable treatment by automotive journalists who don’t purchase Avalons). Farewell, Avalon.

  • avatar
    gtem

    So: brutally ugly inside and out, needlessly firm suspension, low-pro tires that will get chewed up by crumbling infrastructure. No thanks, the 1st and 2ns gen Avalons are still where it’s at.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Sedans for the most part have been replaced by crossovers. At the right price and with low mileage used Avalons make a good vehicle especially if they are bought from older 1 owners.

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