Unless you're a hardcore fan of near-premium Japanese sedans, you could be forgiven for not realizing that there have been four generations of Toyota Avalon up to this point. It's always been a typical Toyota, which is to say, well-built and comfortable, but never something we'd describe as bold. That changes with the release of the fifth generation Avalon at the Detroit Auto Show.
New for 2019, the fifth-generation Avalon makes huge strides in the design and technology departments. The sedan's exterior is more than a little busy looking, but it's not entirely un-handsome. The combination of a massive front grille along with more body creases and character lines isn't necessarily going to work for everyone, but we kinda dig it.
At least in photos, the higher-spec Limited model has one of the best-looking interiors we've seen come out of Japan in a long time; it actually appears to be nearly on par with the $100k+. The leather stitching looks incredible, and the center stack is gorgeous in the way it floats above the dash and cascades down into the center console.
Interior tech promises to be extensive, too, with standard Entune 3.0 which features a 9-inch capacitive touchscreen, Qi wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, smartwatch integration, Alexa connectivity and Apple CarPlay, not to mention a crazy 10-inch head-up display, currently the largest in the segment.
The Avalon will be available with either a new, more powerful 3.5-liter V6 or the Toyota Hybrid System II, neither of which figure to light anyone's hair on fire. No matter which engine you choose, they should be well-suited to the character of Toyota's flagship sedan, particularly since they will be paired with Toyota's eight-speed gearbox with (likely superfluous) paddle shifters.
The car is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform which also underpins the currentand , and that's no bad thing. We doubt it will be the last word in driving dynamics, but it's not like your average Avalon buyer is a track-day regular. Either way, it might not embarrass itself in the twisties thanks to Toyota's Adaptive Variable Suspension, a first for the car.
Of course, no conversation about the Avalon would be complete without mentioning its origins. The fifth-gen car is a proudly US-designed vehicle, which may come as a surprise to some. The styling was handled by Toyota's Calty facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan while the mechanical bits were dealt with at the Toyota Motor America R&D facility in Saline, Michigan.
Add in the fact that the Avalon is being built at Toyota's factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, and you've got a car that's arguably more domestic than some of the products coming from the Detroit Three these days.
Toyota has told us that the 2019 Avalon will go on sale in late Spring of this year, but it thus far remains mum on pricing. We'll update you as we get new information.
Keep an eye on Roadshow for the rest of our coverage of the 2018 Detroit Auto Show!