2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited Review

Aiming for younger buyers without alienating the older ones


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Drives and handles better than any Avalon before it, styling is a huge departure from past generations, excellent seats, dramatic design is a big change.
Negatives: Grille is a bit of overkill, overstyled interior, some obvious cheap interior bits, noisy powertrain, infotainment better but still could use help
Bottom Line: The Avalon for 2019 is a huge departure from the outgoing model in terms of style. Having driven it both for the review and in a long press trip drive, we can honestly say the Avalon is better than ever. It's great to drive, has fancy styling, and boasts great efficiency in Hybrid trim. The question remains whether or not it's too much style for older drivers?
The Toyota Avalon full-size sedan has come a long way. It's no longer a big barge that's just for older folks, and that was evident with the last generation car, which was actually quite a bit of fun to helm. The new car diverges even more from the Avalon template by infusing it with fresh styling and upgraded technology. Though we got to drive it on the release press trip, we got to spend even more time in the Hybrid. We tested it for a full week. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.3

 

The driving experience is on of the Avalon Hybrid's best aspects, though we would never accuse it of being sporty. For a large hybrid sedan, this thing is mighty impressive in the way it manages turns and handles long cruising distances.

Ride Quality: The Avalon Hybrid is as smooth as butter over bumps. But it doesn't feel totally disconnected from the road surface.

Acceleration: Acceleration is quick thanks to a power bump of 15 hp over the old Avalon, but the hybrid powertrain is very noticeable uncer hard acceleration in a way that's not pleasant to the ear.

Braking: The regenerative brakes are actually pretty good. There's a decent amount of progressiveness, and pedal feel is decent.

Steering: Though feedback is minimal, the steering is precise and responsive, something you typically don't get in a big sedan.

Handling: A small amount of body roll is present, and there's minor understeer. But the car feels balanced, and it's manageable. At 3,715 lbs for the Hybrid Limited, Toyota keeps the weight down pretty well for a car this size.

Technology

7.6

 

Toyota does a great job of outfitting the Avalon Hybrid Limited with a good set of in-car technology, including Apple CarPlay, Qi Wireless Charging, and a big 10" head-up display. It's too bad they couldn't do better with the beleaguered Entune infotainment system.

Infotainment System: The totally revised Entune system is better but not great. The 9" screen is canted too far back, and the custom colors are still too drab. Visually, it's not a vast improvement from the old one.

Controls: The tiny buttons that flank the touchscreen are too small for our liking. The buttons on the climate controls are also on the small side, making them hard to see and actuate while driving.

Styling

8.5

 

We're not going to fault Toyota for pushing the Avalon's styling beyond anything they've done with it before, but sometimes it seems overdone. The interior is even more polarizing. But the overall result is noticeable, and that's a good thing in this case.

Front: The grille is massive, even if it's not the black honeycomb version on the XSE. Therea are a full nine horizontal chrome bars in the grille, which is a lot.

Rear: The taillights have a single bar connecting the ends. The taillight also protrudes nicely. It's a clean design, and the sequential turn signals are very nice.

Profile: The long and lean Avalon looks good from this angle, especially with the sloping greenhouse. The rear overhang is a bit long, though.

Cabin: Though it's more modern than the last car, it's a bit overstyled with a layered dash, dramatic colors, and a really big center console and stack.

Comfort

8.8

 

The last Avalon was already pretty spacious, but the new one is even bigger, even though it doesn't look that way inside. It's longer, lower, and wider than the last one.

Front Seats: The seats are well cushioned and decently bolstered for long-haul comfort. The leather is very good.

Rear Seats: Rear seating space is excellent, though the middle position is too upright to be comfortable for longer drives.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Avalon has excellent sound deadening, and it's very quiet on road. The hybrid gas engine kicking in is really the only noticeable sound.

Visibility: Visibility is good out the front and sides, but the thick rear pillars prevent good sightlines. The rear camera and the Bird's Eye View help mitigate things.

Climate: Smaller vents in the dash prevent ideal cooling and heating, but the system is decent. The heated and cooled seats work very well.

Safety

9.3

 

The testing that the new Avalon has gone through results in top notch scores, and the standard and optional safety equipment sets are at the top of the class. Families should take comfort that Toyota has delivered well in this department.

IIHS Rating: The Avalon nails the best of the best with its Top Safety Pick+ rating. It even gets top scores for headlights and LATCH with an extra rear position.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Avalon comes with Toyota Safety Sense P, a robust set that includes a Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Star Safety System, Blind Spot Monitor, and RR Cross-Traffic Alert, Anti-Theft System w/ Engine Immobilizer.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the Advanced Safety Package, which adds nice features such as the Bird's Eye Camera and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with automatic braking.

Storage/Cargo

8

 

The Avalon has always been good for trunk space, and the new one continues that legacy. The cabin, however, could use some improvements.

Storage Space: The cabin has good storage space in the armrest and the door pockets, but the cubby in the center stack is weird. It's shallow and obstructed by two pointless and overly thick pillars.

Cargo Room: The 16.09 cubic feet of trunk space is marginally larger than last year's 16 cubic feet. The load floor is flat, and the opening is large, making it easy to load and unload.

Fuel Economy

8.9

 

The fuel efficiency in the Avalon Hybrid is truly impressive, especially considering the fact that you can drive it pretty hard and still get good fuel economy.

Observed: 43.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 253 miles

Driving Factors: We drove the Hybrid in both local and highway conditions with a healthy amount of throttle, which is why we came away very happy with the fuel efficiency results.

Audio

8.5

 

The JBL Premium Audio system that came standard in the Limited trim is very good. Rich sound fills the cabin, and the clarity is great. The bass could be stronger, but it's still a very enjoyable system.



Final Thoughts

We love the fact that the Avalon has come so far since its inception and that Toyota cares about its driving dynamics, even in the Hybrid iteration. The styling might be too much for some, but it delivers great efficiency, high levels of comfort, premium safety features, and a seriously comfortable ride. It may not be excellent at any one thing, but it's a great all arounder for those who want to tick most of the boxes.
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