Do you want something sporty? Or a little more comfortable?
The Toyota Avalon has long since had a reputation as an old person's car but with the most recent redesign for the 2019 model year, it has become so much more. In a market where crossovers and SUVs dominate the sales charts, it was surprising to see Toyota put so much effort into the Avalon.
Toyota currently offers four trim levels of the Avalon (with a fifth one on the way), three of which are also available as hybrids. All models route power to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic on gas-engine models and via a CVT on hybrids. The Avalon is powered by either a 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 or a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a hybrid system, producing 201 hp. And the trim level you chose can make a major difference in how the car behaves, so we wanted to break down which one you should buy.
All Toyota Avalon models are nicely equipped but the XLE acts as the entry-level trim. The Avalon comes in luxury and sporty flavors, with the XLE landing in the former category. A gas-engine XLE starts at $35,000 with the hybrid costing slightly more at $36,500. The benefit of opting for the hybrid is fuel economy of 43/43 mpg in the city and highway compared to 22/32 mpg for the gas-engine model. Even in this most affordable trim level, the Avalon includes an Entune 9-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Toyota Safety Sense, and eight speakers. But since the XLE is the dullest of the trim levels, we'd suggest opting for a more expensive model.
The XSE trim level is the most affordable of the sporty Avalon trim levels. It includes most of the same equipment as the XLE but adds 19-inch wheels, aluminum trim, black accents, a trunk-lid spoiler, moonroof, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, and a sport-tuned suspension. It starts at $38,000 (or $39,000 for the hybrid), which we think is worth it for the improved styling alone.
If you want the most luxurious Avalon available and don't care about how sporty it is, the Limited trim is the one you should opt for. This trim level adds LED headlights with auto-on, wood trim, heated and ventilated perforated leather seats, and Entune 3.0 with navigation and JBL audio. The starting price is $41,800 for the gas model or $42,800 for the hybrid. We don't think the Limited is as attractive as the sportier Avalon trims but the leather interior is lovely.
Of the currently available Avalon trims, the Touring is the sportiest model. It is the only trim that isn't available in a hybrid and it is one of the priciest at $42,000. We'd pick the Touring above all others because we love how it looks and enjoy how it feels from behind the wheel. This trim level includes similar content from the Limited including LED headlights with auto-on, Entune 3.0 with navigation and JBL audio, partial suede seats with heating and ventilation but adds unique features such as adaptive suspension and engine sound enhancement.
Later in 2019, Toyota will introduce new TRD versions of both the Camry and Avalon. Power from the V6 engine will not increase but the TRD model will be equipped with an aerodynamic body kit (with a front splitter, side aero skirts, trunk lid spoiler, and rear diffuser), larger brakes with red calipers, TRD badging, and a specially-tuned cat-back exhaust. The Camry will also get stiffer springs but the Avalon should remain at the stock ride height. Pricing hasn't been announced but availability will begin in fall 2019.