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 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined