We recently got the chance to review Toyota’s all-new Camry, and we finally had a positive impression after driving the model. Toyota’s Avalon has always been the Camry’s bigger, more luxurious cousin, and with this new model, they are more like brothers. Both built off the same global chassis platform, and sharing the same 3.5-Liter V6 power plant, there are lots of similarities. But the Avalon gives you more space and more luxury, so driving it is a different experience altogether. Let’s see if we like it as much as we liked the Camry.
First off, the design is what you’d expect from Toyota. The ever-expanding front grill continues to overtake the entire fascia, being the dominant feature of, well, the entire car. Big nose aside, the Avalon is a nice-looking sedan, especially in profile. The roofline is a little more pleasing than even the Camry, which we actually liked. There are a few odd touches, like the taillights sticking out 3” from the rear, a design feature for which we can find no discernable advantage. Isn’t form supposed to follow function?
On the inside, there’s more luxury than the Camry, but somehow it feels a little less luxurious than previous generations. The wood trim feels a little plasticky (there’s debate that it actually is, but I don’t think Toyota would have appreciated us cutting it to check.) Some of the soft-touch materials are nice, but there’s plenty of plastic around as well. The unique and somewhat odd triangular dash arrangement is toned down in the Avalon, which looks a bit more refined and less gimmicky.
Feature-wise, there’s plenty on tap. A 7” display gives you access to all the infotainment systems, including apps, navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Plenty of powerful USB ports and 12V charging ports means you can keep your device topped up, and there’s even a handy wireless charging port available. You can close the lid on the charge port when not in use, and it becomes a bit of a storage spot. There’s lots of convenience throughout, with plenty of pockets and cup holders to hold your stuff.
Safety-wise, there’s a full suite of available features, including lane assist, blind spot monitors, radar cruise, pedestrian detection, emergency braking and automatic high beams. Most of these systems have adjustable sensitivity, so you can tailor them to your needs. The worst safety system is one that goes off so often that you start to ignore it.
Hauling more weight around, the 301HP V6 feels a bit more sluggish than in the Camry, as you might expect, but it also feels like they softened the transmission programming for a more ‘luxury’ feel instead of a sporty feel, but unfortunately the end result is a slightly lazy-feeling gearbox. When you give it some throttle, it seems to take a bit longer to decide what gear to choose. It’s a big, heavy car for just front wheel drive, and although they tamed the dreaded torque-steer, you do feel the traction limitations of this powertrain layout. Especially while trying to accelerate while turning, it just doesn’t have enough grip for both.
Value-wise, this is a lot of sedan for the money. Starting at just $35k, our test vehicle topped out at around $42k to start, and with not too many options to choose from, it’s tough to get one much higher. Very few sedans this size and with this many features are in this price range, and it’s mainly the shared platform and front-wheel-drive layout that keep the price down. We feel like some corners were cut with material selection as well, but we are willing to make that trade off for a more reasonable price. Far from the pure luxury of a Lexus, this Avalon is now a more refined and larger Camry. And if you’ve sampled the newest Camry, you’ll recognize that’s a good thing.
Special thanks to Toyota Motor Corporation for providing the 2019 Toyota Avalon for review.