Visualize “Toyota Avalon” and, odds are, stereotypical thoughts such as “big sedan,” “conservative styling,” and “older customer base” will soon begin dancing in your head.
But the all-new 2019 model, which goes on sale today, is anything but stereotypical.
“Avalon is positioned as the Toyota brand catalyst,” says Randy Stephens, chief engineer of latest iteration. “That gave us the freedom, if not the mandate, to introduce features that had never been seen before on a Toyota vehicle. And, early on in the development process, we identified advanced technology as a key selling point. So, it’s no surprise that many of these innovations have a tech component to them.”
Simply put, the new Avalon is blazing a trail that other Toyota vehicles could follow. Who knew?
Check out some of Avalon’s high-tech features:
The 2019 Avalon is the first Toyota vehicle to include Apple CarPlay integration, and it’s standard across all grades. Basically, this technology allows iPhone owners to connect their device to the car and have many of their favorite apps — such as maps, music and podcasts — appear on the 9-inch touchscreen display built into the floating center stack. It’s a big step in the direction of the digital nirvana of plug and play.
Also standard across all Avalon models, and also a Toyota first, is connectivity with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. So, you can cue up music, check traffic, play an audiobook, access Toyota Entune 3.0 and much more. This connectivity applies both within the car, from the vehicle to your home and from your home to the vehicle. So, for example, you could be in your home and say, “Alexa, ask Toyota how much fuel I have left.” Or, “Alexa, ask Toyota to start my car.” Or, “Alexa, ask Toyota to lock my car doors.”
Here’s another Toyota first: Use your Apple or Android smartwatch to start the Avalon’s engine remotely, check fuel levels, check door locks and locate the vehicle. This can be done with a tap within the app or by voice control. This feature, too, is standard on all grades.
Adaptive Variable Suspension
The 2019 Avalon takes full advantage of its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. That includes a suspension incorporating an independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar in the front and multi-link with stabilizer bar in the rear.
But the Touring grade pushes this envelope further with, in a first for Toyota, the addition of Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). At the touch of a button, AVS allows you to can engage real-time damping control in two distinct modes. Choose “Normal” and the system prioritizes a comfortable ride. Go with Sport+ and the emphasis is on handling with tauter, highly responsive footing.
In other words, Avalon becomes as much fun to drive as it looks.
New Lighting Technology
The headlamps on all versions of the new Avalon employ energy-efficient LED lights. But the Limited and Touring grades go several steps further.
Take, for instance, Adaptive LED Cornering Lamps. When the steering wheel is turned by 25 degrees or more, the cornering lamps turn on – increasing foreground illumination by up to 60 percent. This feature also engages when the turn signal is on or the transmission is shifted into reverse.
And, in a first for Toyota, the Limited and Touring headlamps give off a metallic shine when unlit thanks to their laser ablation finish. This distinctive look was created by irradiating the metallized surface of the lamp housing with a laser beam, thereby removing material and creating this signature look.
JBL 14-Speaker Surround Sound System
The standard audio system on XLE and XSE grades incorporates eight speakers. But opt for the JBL audio package or the Limited or Touring grades and you get the aural indulgence of a 1,200-watt surround sound system that drives 14 speakers, from a 10.1-inch subwoofer to horn tweeters fitted into the front pillars and rear doors.
Once again, this is a Toyota first.
Of course, the 2019 Avalon’s list of features goes well beyond this subset of new goodies — with such items as five USB ports, dual zone automatic climate control, 10 airbags, electronic parking brake and Toyota Safety Sense-P.
Bottom line: This is one slick high-tech machine.
By Dan Miller