• 2019 Toyota Avalon XSE

Road Test: 2019 Toyota Avalon XSE

Fully Redesigned Full-size Sedan

Toyota’s fifth generation, all-new flagship 2019 Avalon was designed with what Toyota calls a “braintrust that represents multilevel progressiveness.” Clean Fleet Report will not attempt to unravel these five words, but will agree that the team strove for “authenticity and exhilaration” in Toyota’s largest sedan, and they did a very good job of it.


The 2019 Toyota Avalon offers two engine options: hybrid and non-hybrid. Clean Fleet Report drove the naturally aspirated non-hybrid, 3.5-liter V6 that put out 301 horsepower and 267 pounds-feet of torque, with the eight-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. The EPA rates fuel economy at 22 city/31 highway/25 combined miles per gallon. Running on 87 octane, driving 386 miles throughout Southern California, we averaged 28.7 mpg. However, in two 100-mile freeway runs with the dynamic radar cruise control set at 65 mph, we exceeded the EPA by averaging 32 mpg. The 0.27 coefficient of drag (Cd) and the active grille shutters helped the Avalon slip through the wind.

The latest version of the Avalon adds slipperier looks

The driver has Eco, Normal and Sport to choose between for the most performance and efficiency. I spent most of my time on the highway in Eco, which tuned throttle response for the best fuel economy. But for fun, and a 6.5-second zero-60 time, opt for Sport. We didn’t feel the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters added any straight-line performance, but the rev-matching when blipping downshifts through the twisties was a blast to hear and feel.

There was no engine lag, and when stomping on the accelerator, a very satisfying throaty growl emanated from under the hood. With the engine sound enhancement and the intake sound generator, engine sound was sent through the speakers, resonating in the cabin. Maybe the Avalon is a bit sportier than it is marketed to be.

Driving Experience: On the Road

To begin, the 2019 Toyota Avalon has a supple ride and its 3,638 pounds never felt heavy. The electric power steering was not so light as to remove feel for the road, but did allow for easy in-town driving and parking. Handling is exactly how it should be for a car designed for comfort, but it never floated or felt soft. The Avalon isn’t marketed as a sport sedan, so don’t expect it to do what it isn’t meant to do. However, on sweeping mountain corners the Avalon was confident and never gave a feeling of being out of control or losing grip. Overall it offered an excellent driving experience that was quiet, partially due to the acoustic noise-reducing windshield and front side windows.

The power is there and the ride is smooth

Our Avalon came with 19-inch, black-painted machine finished alloy wheels and 235/40R all-season Michelin tires. The Avalon is nicely balanced, with a feeling of being planted to the ground. The 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic are perfectly mated for smooth operating at any speed.

Stopping comes from an electronically controlled brake system. The front ventilated and solid rear disc brakes, with ABS and electronic brake force distribution, produced straight and consistent stops. The pedal offered a medium-hard pressure, which was easy to modulate for smooth and predictable stops.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Toyota says the all-new 2019 Avalon “beams effortless sophistication, style and exhilaration.” Let’s pause just a moment to contemplate the front end and what is probably the largest grille on any sedan. When the Avalon is painted in a darker color, the new nose looks fine, as it is not quite as noticeable. And as Clean Fleet Report discovered, there is much to like on the Avalon, with the grille making a statement that is bold and says, “Hey, look at me!” Don’t want to be looked at? Then there are many cars out there offering complete anonymity.

Looks like it could scoop up plenty

The Avalon XSE has a piano black grille with sport mesh inserts. Sans chrome, except for the Toyota logo, it was set against the Ruby Flare Pearl body, presenting a menacing look. The dark front end drew the eye to the squinty-eyed LED reflector headlights that wrapped onto the fenders.

The sleek roofline, with a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, is interrupted only by the color-keyed shark fin antenna. The trunk lid has a very subtle spoiler; LED tail lights sit below with dual, round chrome exhaust tips peeking out each side of the lower fascia.

Driving Experience: Interior

The 2019 Toyota Avalon’s interior is built with high craftsmanship, tailoring and an attention to detail. The XSE package came with black, perforated SofTex front seats with Ultrasuede inserts. SofTex is a synthetic leather seat material designed for wear, easy cleaning and resisting spills, and uses a manufacturing process that is more environmentally sensitive than conventional synthetic leather. The power, eight-way adjustable, heated and ventilated (driver and passenger) seats, combined with the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel column made it easy for the driver to find a comfortable driving position.

It’s got technology, easy-to-use controls—and Ultrasuede

The cockpit design is driver friendly, featuring large gauges for easy reading and controls for easy access. The interior also has a dual-zone automatic climate system, power windows, door locks and mirrors, electronic parking brake, Smart Access with push button stop/start, multiple power outlets, folding heated power side mirrors with turn signals, and a Qi-compatible wireless charging system.

The rear seats, that comfortably hold three adults, split 60/40 and fold flat, with a drop-down armrest and cup holders. Behind the seat is a very large trunk that can hold all the gear for four on a weekend road trip. Two 2.1-amp charging ports are found at the rear of the center console as well as air vents.

The centerpiece of the Avalon’s infotainment system is the 9.0-inch touchscreen that rises from the dash. Here you will find controls for the JBL premium audio system and navigation with Entune. The 14 speakers, a subwoofer and 1,200-watt amplifier produce high-quality sound for the AM/FM/HD radio, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay and SiriusXM (free trial for 90 days). There are two USB ports and a 12V/120W up front. Toyota’s Safety Connect includes Wi-Fi by Verizon with a six-month trial. For those long, fuel-efficient road trips, having Wi-Fi for multiple devises will keep the back seat passengers happy and quiet.

Gauges are big and clear

A big thank you to Toyota for having radio volume and channel selection knobs and large wheels to control the automatic climate control.

The leather-trimmed, multi-function heated steering wheel has controls for the audio, plus hands-free Bluetooth telephone operation and voice controls. The rearview mirror is HomeLink equipped. Aluminum pedal covers and aluminum door trim are nice touches.

Safety and Convenience

The 2019 Toyota Avalon comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense, Safety Connect and the Star Safety System. Active and passive safety features including 10 air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, hill start control, push button start, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer, rear view camera, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, and the previously mentioned four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

A note to remember

The Avalon has earned a Top Rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Good rating, while the US Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded it their highest rank of a Five Star rating.


The 2019 Toyota Avalon with the gasoline engine comes in four trim levels, with these base prices.

  • XLE — $35,650
  • XSE — $38,150
  • Limited — $41,950
  • Touring — $42,350

The 2019 Toyota Avalon XSE Clean Fleet Report drove, including options totaling $1,323, had a MSRP of $39,473. All prices exclude the $930 delivery, processing and handling fee.

The 2019 Avalon comes with these warranties:

  • Powertrain — Five years/60,000 miles
  • Basic — Three years/36,000 miles
  • Corrosion Perforation — Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Maintenance/Roadside Assistance — Two years/25,000 miles

Observations: The 2019 Avalon XSE

The 2019 Toyota Avalon, built in Georgetown, Kentucky, was redesigned for 2019 using Toyota’s TGNA platform that underpins everything in the Toyota lineup from the Prius, Corolla and C-HR to the Camry, Avalon and Highlander. The styling is sharp with an elegant, comfortable and spacious interior that can seat a family of five while hauling their luggage on road trips. The handling and ride are improved compared to the 2018 model and the 30+ mpg fuel economy is impressive for this size car. Note: For even better fuel economy check-out the Avalon Hybrid, which is rated at 43+ mpg.

If the front end stops you, check out the rear

If the front end design is a hang-up, just remember when you are driving the Avalon, you cannot see it. Plus, this would be a weak excuse not to consider owning this impressive full-size sedan.

Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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