2019 Toyota Avalon
It wasn’t that long ago when big sedans were the pinnacle of an automaker’s line up. But times change… and as we all know… SUV’s and crossovers now rule the road. But Toyota for one hasn’t given up on their flagship four-door Avalon… And with an all new design they’re also aiming to attract new buyers that haven’t got silver in their hair.
Now in its 5th generation, the 2019 Toyota Avalon is indeed facing head winds, and an uncertain future for the largest four doors. If you go by the numbers, it’s still officially midsize… but will compete against full-size and large car contenders.
Toyota is hardly the first carmaker to go after youthful buyers, but the new Avalon does seem to be a concerted effort. Towards that goal, Toyota’s flagship loses most of its soft lines in favor of a sharper technical look. The huge, ground hugging grille, sets their mid-premium sedan apart from chassis mates Camry and upscale cousin Lexus ES. The high-tech look continues with the slim LED’s.
Compared to last year, Avalon is a bit longer, with shorter overhangs. The wheelbase grows 2 inches. It’s also lower and wider, with an expanded track. The rear cabin extends another 7-inches… enhancing the already low, arching roofline. Even the back end gets a technical look with connected three-dimensional, “aero fin” style LED tail lights.
This comfortable interior is, on the other hand, full of soft touches. There’s Yamaha wood and aluminum trim depending on model. The theme is authentic materials, quality craftsmanship and high tech. It’s a nice step up from the previous gen car.
Seats remain comfortable even after a long day of driving. The thin floating 9-inch infotainment display now includes Apple CarPlay, and Toyota Remote Connect with Smartwatch and Amazon Alexa Connectivity.
Beyond the leather trimmed steering wheel, the 7-inch TFT has vital stats. Sitting in the driver’s seat of Limited and Touring trims adds a color 10-inch Head-Up Display. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are available, another nod to younger buyers.
It’s very quiet in here too… with extra sound deadening material in the engine bay and noise-reducing glass. Audiophiles can disrupt the serene setting with Entune 3.0 Audio Plus and the standard 8-speakers or the 1200-watt JBL tailored Entune 3.0 Premium Audio with 14-speakers.
There are plenty of other premium features like dual zone climate control and heated and cooled front seats. The roomy rear seat can also keep passengers warm in the winter.
Trunk space is a reasonable 16.1-cubic feet… even in the hybrid… now that the battery pack moves under the rear seat.
Toyota Safety Sense P is standard, bringing high-end safety like Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist.
Riding on a new TNGA K Sedan Platform, the Avalon is more responsive, with an exceptionally smooth street ride. The multi-link rear suspension allows for surprisingly good grip in corners.
All Avalons have a choice of drive modes… Eco, Normal, and Sport… even on the hybrid. For the first time, Touring trim gets Adaptive Variable Suspension. That also adds Sport+ and Custom to the mix. Going from normal to sport… and sport plus…there is a noticeable difference in the throttle response and shifts. The Adaptive Variable Suspension becomes more dynamic while the ride remains supple.
Under the hood there are two options. The new 3.5-liter V6 it shares with the Camry increases horsepower by 33… to 301. Torque also rises 19 to 267 lb-ft. Our drive time also included the Avalon Hybrid which combines an also familiar 2.5-liter I-4 engine with 2 electric motors…one for charging and one for driving…for a total system output of 215 horsepower. The electric to gas transition is apparent, but not abrupt… and it does a fine job. The V6 does deliver smoother acceleration. The hybrid works with a CVT… a new 8-speed automatic swiftly sends the power from the V6 to the front wheels only.
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings are not final, but Toyota expects the V6 to get 22-City, 32-Highway, and 26-Combined on regular gas. Toyota’s estimates for the hybrid are 43-City, 44-Highway, and 44-Combined.
The 2019 Toyota Avalon starts at $35,500 for an XLE, ranging to $42,200 for a Touring V6. Add $1-thousand dollars for the hybrids.
So despite a tough sell for sedans, Toyota continues to step up its game… trying to attract accomplished, younger buyers who want more from a larger vehicle without luxury car, or even comparably sized SUV, prices. With other brands curtailing sedan production, this new Avalon just might hit a sweet spot.
- Engine: 3.5 liter
- Horsepower: 301
- Torque: 267 lb-ft.
- EPA: 22 mpg city / 32 mpg highway
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined