It's been a good 28 years.
Instead of being updated for the 2023 model year, Toyota has decided to end production of its full-size Avalon sedan entirely. Automotive News has confirmed, via a letter sent to suppliers from the Japanese automaker, that the Kentucky-built flagship sedan is finished.
"Originally introduced as Toyota's flagship sedan in 1994, Avalon built the reputation for offering comfort, innovation, quality and safety that customers expect from a full-sized sedan," the letter states. "While Avalon will be discontinued after the 2022 model year, Toyota remains committed to the sedan segment and we encourage customers to stay tuned for future developments." This leaves Toyota with just two sedans, the Corolla and Camry.
Both are well-established nameplates and there appears to be a strong enough market for both. But the full-size Avalon is clearly a different situation. Despite being 27 years old, the market for larger premium sedans has been caving as similarly sized crossovers continue to dominate.
The good news for Toyota's Kentucky factory employees is that production capacity and employment will not be affected. Both the Camry and RAV4 are also built at this facility. Interestingly and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Avalon sales actually increased by 37 percent in the first half of this year compared to last year. However, total sales still fell short of rivals like the Dodge Charger; it only beat the already slow-selling Maxima.
With the Avalon soon checking out, only the Charger, Maxima, and Chrysler 300 remain in this segment. Other rivals like Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, and Hyundai have all abandoned the full-size sedan.
The latest generation Avalon debuted for the 2019 model year and it's a far departure from its immediate predecessor both in terms of styling and driving feel. There's now a TRD variant aimed directly at semi-enthusiasts who simply want something fun to drive in a segment that's not normally known for it. Toyota had good intentions introducing the Avalon TRD and, along with the hybrid and AWD versions, it's a solid vehicle. But times change and Toyota has concluded it's better to cut its losses.