2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid: A midsize sedan with cool tech, smooth moves [Retake]

2019 Toyota Avalon 42.jpg
2019 Toyota Avalon{ } (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I’d like to start my second take on the 2019 Toyota Avalon where I ended my first-look review: If you can get beyond the polarizing design, Avalon has a good story to tell.

On press previews, your driving time is limited. Plus, road surfaces and driving conditions are carefully curated by the automaker launching the vehicle – which very often showcases the most favorable parts of the vehicle.

So, it’s very easy to do a couple laps and think: What a nice vehicle. It’s the at-home, weeklong test that gives you a true sense of a vehicle – and repudiates or reaffirms your first impression.

In the case of the 2019 Avalon, my first impression stands.

The smooth ride targets a buyer who wants something on the luxury side of the spectrum, yet there are enough high-tech gadgets that make this sedate sedan more cool kid on the block and less old fogey.

Available features include things such as five USB ports, Apple CarPlay, smartwatch connectivity, a WiFi hotspot, Qi wireless charging and a JBL premium audio system – all things a young tech-savvy buyer might want.

And that’s not the traditional buyer for an Avalon.

But with an edgy exterior design and a bevy of available luxurious amenities, the Avalon has a decent chance of attracting a different demographic.

This particular test vehicle was a hybrid, which means it was equipped with the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor.

It has a total output of 215 horsepower, and yet it feels peppier than the V-6, which delivers 301 horsepower.

Plus, you can’t beat the fuel economy. EPA estimates that you will get 43 or 44 mpg in combined driving depending on your trim. And while I didn’t get my numbers quite that high – I averaged 39 mpg during my test week – I still consider that a win for a sedan on the larger side of the spectrum.

With more time behind the wheel, I did notice the engine off/on when it switches in and out of hybrid mode isn’t as smooth and unnoticeable as I remembered.

However, I really loved the overall interior quietness and decent acceleration provided by the hybrid model.

I still think this is the model of choice when choosing an Avalon. Especially since it only adds $1,000 to the bottom line.

This time around, I was also able to take advantage of the iOS upgrade on my iPhone, which includes Waze integration on Apple CarPlay. I. Loved. It.

Simply plug in your iPhone, and scroll over to the Waze app on the in-car screen. Then, it works exactly like the phone app -- crowd-sourced police spottings, red-light cameras, speed traps and all.

The 2019 Avalon has four trims, and every one of them, except the top-tier Touring, can add a hybrid powertrain.

Pricing for the gasoline/hybrid models per trim is as follows:

  • XLE: $36,395/$37,395
  • XSE: $38,895/$39,895
  • Limited: $42,695/$43,695
  • Touring: $43,095

The Bottom Line:

While I’m not particularly fond of the exterior styling of the new Avalon, I appreciate the fact Toyota is trying something new and bold.

Plus, the interior, where you’re going to spend most of your time, is phenomenal. The plush seats are super comfortable, the center stack is well-designed, and the infotainment screen and menus are intuitive – which is helpful for older and younger buyers alike.

The Avalon has enough high-tech features to attract a younger consumer, but it manages to maintain an air of luxury and comfort, which should keep its current constituents happy.

In all, I think that’s a win-win for Toyota.