2019 Toyota Avalon Touring First Test
Long relegated to status as a floaty barge for end-stage buyers, the 2019 Toyota Avalon—specifically the sporty Touring trim—has become a proper flagship with actual driving prowess. The term “vanilla” and Avalon once went hand-in-hand because the conservatively styled sedan provided a comfortable ride with the absence of driving excitement . But the Avalon’s 2019 redesign sheds the stigma by offering a driving experience that borders on exhilarating.
Powering the Avalon is an updated 3.5-liter V-6 that now develops 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. That is a 33 hp and 19 lb-ft improvement over the last V-6 thanks in part to direct and port injection technology. With an EPA-rated 22/31 mpg city/highway (22/32 mpg for the XLE trim), the 2019 Avalon with a V-6 is the nameplate’s most powerful and most efficient non-hybrid model ever. In real-world testing from the EQUA Real MPG team, the 2019 Avalon Touring earned a rating of 21.8/33.4 mpg. The car’s 22/31-32 mpg rating puts it above the six-cylinder models of the Nissan Maxima (21/30 mpg), the Chevrolet Impala (18-19/28 mpg), the Chrysler 300 (19/30 mpg), and the Buick LaCrosse(21/30 mpg).
Backing the V-6 is a crisp-shifting eight-speed automatic that rarely fumbles, almost always finding the right gear. The eight-speed is very responsive, even in Normal mode, making this big sedan feel quicker than it is. When cruising, there’s no need to dig into the gas pedal to get a downshift; small applications will get you one or more kickdowns. This makes highway passing not only easy but fun, especially in the Sport+ mode that’s unique to the Touring model.