Toyota takes on 'attainable premium'
UPDATE: Toyota Australia has confirmed Apple CarPlay is under consideration for our market, and we've added some new images to the gallery. See bottom of article for more details
Toyota has pulled back the covers on the 2019 Avalon, debuting a sharp new styling direction and a more luxurious, tech-focused interior.
Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the new Avalon will be offered with a 3.5-litre V6 engine or a hybrid powertrain - blending a 2.5-litre four cylinder engine with a 650V electric motor. A second motor helps recuperate energy under deceleration, feeding energy back into the nickel-metal hydride battery pack hiding under the boot floor.
Power is put to the front wheels through an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission in the V6, or a CVT with six artificial 'ratios' in the hybrid. Both models get paddle-shifters as standard.
The previous Avalon – and all those that came before it – wasn't exactly known for its sporting prowess, but that hasn't stopped Toyota for trying to make an athlete out of the fifth-generation car. Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is standard on the Touring, constantly adjusting the damping based on information from G-sensors at all four corners.
According to the company, there are 650 levels of damping firmness, and the system can react to the road surface in just 20 milliseconds.
Models without AVS still get a multi-link rear suspension setup, with stiffer stabiliser bars and springs in sportier XSE guise. Will the average Avalon buyer really care? We'll have to wait and see on that one.
Toyota has focused on making the Avalon feel more luxurious inside, with various upholstery choices and a trim options across the range. The wood adorning the dashboard is real in top-spec cars (XLE cars still get the fake stuff) and top-spec cars are treated to quilted detailing, unique perforation and contrast stitching.
Infotainment is handled by a floating 9.0-inch screen in the centre console, while the instrument binnacle is home to a 7.0-inch display as well. Top-spec Limited and Touring models come with a 10.0-inch colour head-up display. An eight-speaker audio system is standard on the base XLE and XSE, while Touring and Limited drivers get a 14-speaker JBL setup.
In a Toyota first, the Avalon's infotainment system comes as standard with Apple CarPlay, along with remote compatibility with smartwatches and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. In-built satellite navigation with traffic updates reserved for higher grades.
Toyota Safety Sense P is standard across the range, which means all cars get autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, along with blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The range is equipped with a rear-view camera and 10 airbags as standard, though higher-spec models are available with a 360-degree camera system and object detection for superior all-round vision.
As for the styling? We'll let you be the judge of that, but it's clear Toyota is committed to pushing its edgier, more aggressive look – for better or worse. The aggressive design language, along with the gaping front grille and angular headlights, are very reminiscent of various Lexus models.
The Avalon will be built in Georgetown, Kentucky - where the US-market version has been manufactured for over 20 years - and arrives in American showrooms during the second quarter of 2018.
While the Avalon will remain reserved for the American market, its new infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay could make its way through the wider Toyota portfolio, meaning Australians could finally have the smartphone mirroring technology in the coming years.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Toyota Australia's manager for public affairs, Aleks Krajcer, said: "There is no announcement regarding the roll-out of Apple CarPlay in Australia to make today, but the technology, along with other multimedia and connected solutions are under consideration as we seek to create and provide the best product and spec combinations for Australian Toyota buyers".
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