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
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
It’s An SUV On A Track, Deal With It
When we started testing cars 43-years ago, hot rod SUVs like this Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT were not on our radar. Back in those days, utility vehicles were trucks and Porsches were cars. But times have changed, and the only place to make sense of it all is at a racetrack, so hop in and join us for some high-performance haulin’.
Now, most would say the high-performance SUV is a relatively new phenomenon, but we’ve been testing them for over 30-years now, going back to the GMC Typhoon. If you don’t remember that one, we’d suggest Googling it, purely for the nostalgia of it, as this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is on a totally different level.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car… ah la the 911.
Starting with the Coupe version of Porsche’s largest SUV, which benefits from a mid-cycle styling refresh for ’24, the Turbo GT adds a carbon-fiber roof, big wing with side planes, rear diffuser, and a sport exhaust system with titanium tailpipes.
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is also included, making body-roll almost non-existent; and with the help of a new two-valve air suspension setup it was all traction all the time through the high-speed turns of Savannah’s Roebling Road Raceway. Though unlike last gen, if you’re aggressive enough with the throttle, you can get the rear to step out on you a little. Rear-axle steering is also included and the best praise we could heap on steering feel and feedback through corners is that it feels like a Porsche.
Tires are also wider than before: 315/35 Pirelli P Zeros in back, mounted on 22-inch GT Design wheels. The brakes behind are comprised of enormous carbon-ceramic composite discs with monster yellow calipers…
…and they truly were impressive on track, hauling this 5,000-pound, luxury-minded performance utility down from triple-digit speeds lap after lap without wavering.
This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car... ah la the 911.
Equally impressive is the powerplant that initiates those high speeds, Porsche’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which cranks out 19 horsepower over last year for a total of 650; torque output remains the same, at 626 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an 8-speed automatic trans, which helps the Turbo GT get up to speed in a hurry; 3.1-seconds to 60, to be exact. That’s a couple of tenths slower than the first-gen Turbo GT we tested 2 years ago, but we’ll chalk that up to testing that one on a well-prepped drag strip versus this trip down Roebling Road’s slippery front straightaway on a 40-degree day. And it gained time back quickly, as our 11.3-second quarter-mile time was only a tenth slower, finishing at 124 mph.
Other notable changes for ’24 include a new dash and control layout for the interior. The highlight is a new 12.6-inch curved digital gauge display; it’s joined by a central touchscreen that sits higher up and is nestled into the dash more than before.
No more actual shifter in the console, as it’s been replaced with Porsche’s toggle switch gear sector which resides on the dash to the left of the touchscreen. That means a new console layout with additional storage space and new controls. While none of that helps lower lap times, it all provides a much more useful and better overall environment than before, for that time spent behind the wheel commuting or just sitting in traffic.
Front and rear seats are comfortable yet sporty feeling; and while it does do a lot of SUV-like things pretty well, the coupe body shape does limit rear cargo capacity to 20.3 cubic feet, expanding to 52.4 with rear seatbacks folded; and the central-mounted exhaust does negate adding a tow hitch.
No matter how you look at it, the Cayenne Turbo GT is an insane vehicle, but it also comes with an insane price tag, starting at $197,950. So essentially, that’s six-figures worth of high-performance hardware jammed into an already impressively capable standard Cayenne… an SUV made much better with comprehensive updates front to back for all ’24 Porsche Cayennes.
It easily remains the standard bearer for luxury-minded utility vehicles, evidenced by recently earning our Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Luxury Utility. But it’s this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT that really impresses the most as the ultimate track-focused SUV money can buy. You may not need it, but you know you want it!
- Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
- Horsepower: 650
- 0-60 mph: 3.1-seconds
- Starting Price: $197,950
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 625 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 11.3-seconds at 124 mph