Test Drive: Toyota Avalon excels at quiet comfort

Test Drive: Toyota Avalon excels at quiet comfort

January 7th, 2019 by Mark Kennedy in Business Around the Region

The 2019 Toyota Avalon is roomy and stylish.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The two-tone interior of our 2019 Toyota Avalon tester is luxury-quality.

The two-tone interior of our 2019 Toyota Avalon...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

As a large, hybrid sedan the 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid represents two shrinking segments.

Fewer Americans than ever are choosing to buy large sedans; and fewer still are checking the box for hybrid models, what with gasoline down to about a buck-fifty a gallon.

That's a pity, because the Avalon Hybrid is a marvel. One of the most comfortable sedans we have ever driven, it has tons of room and gets 43 miles per gallon in city driving. That's right, 43 mpg city!

Perhaps to grab attention, Toyota has given the 2019 Avalon one of the most massive grilles ever put on a modern automobile. If fact it's unclear how it could be any bigger since it spans nearly the whole front end of the car. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but, for good or bad, the Avalon doesn't have a mug you can easily forget. From certain angles it looks as though the Avalon is trying to swallow the entire road.

Inside, the Avalon has Lexus-quality materials, which makes us wonder exactly why anyone would stretch to buy the Lexus ES Hybrid, unless it's for the luxury dealership experience.

Avalons are available locally at Capital Toyota in Chattanooga, Toyota of Cleveland and North Georgia Toyota in Dalton. Hybrid models are a bit hard to find, but we did spot one in digital inventory in Dalton.

Fast Facts

› Model: 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

› Exterior color: Ruby Flare Pearl

› Interior color: Parchment and Black

› Engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder engine plus electric motor

› Horsepower: 215 (net)

› Transmission: CVT

› Fuel economy: 43 mpg city, 43 mpg highway

› Local Dealer: Capital Toyota, Toyota of Cleveland, North Georgia Toyota

› Price (as tested): $45,513


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WHAT IS IT?

The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a large, five-passenger sedan with a gas-electric hybrid drive system that makes 215 (net) horsepower. Toyota has been making hybrids for decades, so this is a tried-and-true power-train that's basically indestructible. Plus it provides a great insurance policy against the (inevitable) day when gas prices head back up.

WHAT DOES IT COST?

Our tester, provided for a one-week test drive by Toyota, is a top-trim Limited model. With all the modern safety tech systems and creature comforts it rings up at $45,513. A base XLE model starts at $36,500 and a sporty XSE starts at $39,000.

WHAT WE LIKE:

Our log-book reflects a host of positives including a huge 9-inch touch screen, two-tone leather-clad interior, clean dashboard lines and the quiet cabin. At certain speeds, and under certain road conditions, the Avalon Hybrid is almost as quiet as a Tesla Model S, for about half the price.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:

The seats were a bit over-firm for our liking, headroom with the front seats forward to fit our short legs was pinched. The tapered shape of the rear third of the car, although not as jarring as the grille, is a bit unconventional.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS:

If you value comfort, you should test drive this car. Many people will spend $45,000 on a much less comfortable SUV thinking they need extra cargo space they actually only use 1 percent of the time.

BOTTOM LINE:

It's a buyers market for this car. If you don't mind swimming against the current of popular tastes a bit, the Avalon Hybrid is an awesome example of luxurious comfort available at a non-luxury dealership.

Online: In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.


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