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.
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.
What is it with all these fake vents on the front and rear grilles and valances of new cars?
I admit, I recently bought one of the worst offenders, a 2019 Avalon (I bought it for the Audi-esque interior). But for crying out loud, why all the black plastic trying in vain to fool the eye that these are… what, exactly?
Years fade into the past, but the public’s thirst for high-riding, do-everything vehicles never seems to ebb. In light of this seismic shift, the Toyota Avalon’s continued presence at the top of the brand’s model line increasingly comes across as mysterious. Perhaps it shouldn’t be.
Introduced for the 1995 model year, the front-drive full-sizer always stayed true to itself — dressed in conservative clothing, it boasted a comfy, roomy cabin, ample V6 power, old-school Toyota dependability, and little chance of drama. If flashiness or cargo volume wasn’t your thing, who could ask for more?
In its recent study of America’s longest lasting vehicles, iSeeCars.com discovered the Avalon was the passenger car most likely to see 200,000 miles. Treat it right, and it’ll outlast multiple owners.
There’s a problem, though, in the fact that fewer and fewer buyers visit Toyota showrooms in search of a large sedan. Avalon sales declined each year following the model’s 2013 post-recession sales peak. Clearly, a change is in order. In crafting its next-generation Avalon, Toyota sought to create a model capable of wooing loyal, returning customers and — for the first time, it seems — younger buyers.
The trouble is, by messing with a formula that worked well for two decades, you risk alienating both groups.
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.
A quick glance of the North American automotive landscape reveals an environment not too welcoming for traditional passenger cars. Actually, it’s beyond unfriendly. The public’s desire for crossovers, crossovers, crossovers makes the market as hospitable to large sedans as Pripyat, Ukraine, is to human life.
Nevertheless, Toyota’s unyielding desire for a full-size flagship sedan means the Avalon — a solid, safe, conservative model launched for the 1995 model year — will live to see another generation. And, judging by a teaser image released by the automaker on Friday, the 2019 Avalon is dressed to impress.
It might be the model’s last chance to make an impression.
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- ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
- ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
- Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
- Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
- Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.