ABC – A Bigger Camry
2018 Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium

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by Glenn Oyoung

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) Convention in San Diego and to see the Property Brother’s give their insights into the real estate industry. Our intrepid editor-in-chief Doug Stokes suggested that I review a car that real estate agents might consider. What would a wannabe Million Dollar Listing star get if they were just getting started in the land business?

The Property Brothers

It would have to be big enough to seat five, look upscale enough to engender trust – but stay under $50k, and get great gas mileage. I decided to hone in on the SUV segment, and suddenly an image of a wide body DUB Edition Toyota Avalon popped in my head. Woah, that came out of left field, right? For three generations from its launch in 1994 to the last of the XX30 platform in 2012, the Avalon plodded along in terms of sales — in some years selling in a whole year what the Camry sold in a month, and in terms of styling — bland is an understatement. While certainly the largest sedan Toyota offered, “flagship” seemed like laying it on a little thick, even for a sales guy. The Avalon was a stopgap, to answer the occasional inquiry “Do you have anything bigger?” Sure we do, right over there. ABC. A Bigger Camry.

Then 2012 came along and Toyota debuted the fourth-generation Avalon at SEMA. I was working as a freelance event producer at the time and in between making sure the lighting was working and catering was on time, I could not take my eyes off the black DUB Edition Avalon that rolled in. With 22” black TIS wheels, smoked out taillights, and blacked-out emblems the Avalon caught my attention.

Source: DUB Magazine

Flash forward to 2017 and I finally had the chance to evaluate the Avalon. Is it more than just a big Camry, does it have a value proposition in addition to size?

Exterior

Six years into the latest generation and the Avalon is about ready for a major update, which makes sense since the new Camry just bowed. That being said the minor updates for MY2016 — mostly revision of the front grille — help the Avalon still look relevant amongst the sedan market. While I don’t personally care for the catfish-like gaping maw grill, the side profile and the rear are more palatable and the overall fit and finish is what you would expect for Toyota.

More important than my personal taste is what a potential client would think when you pull up to the listing appointment. The Avalon doesn’t scream “I’m the most powerful producer in this area. Let me sell your house!” In fact, it doesn’t scream anything. And maybe that’s good. It says, politely, I’m very good with my money and if you let me I’ll be good with yours.

That being said, the staid sedan market is now rife with stylish competitors to the Avalon. Upstarts like the Kia Stinger, with its Bavarian-good looks and Korean-value-pricing, are raising expectations. Given the bold styling of the new Camry, it makes sense that Avalon will be redesigned to impart a more muscular image. Spy shots of the 2019 Avalon seem to confirm this.

Interior

Deciding to leave Los Angeles for San Diego during peak rush hour on a Friday afternoon seemed a little masochistic, but ultimately was the best road test for the Avalon in the area that counts the most for Avalon buyers – comfort.  With over 102 cubic feet of passenger volume, there’s plenty of real estate for occupants to make themselves comfortable. In some cars the three-hour freeway slugfest would have been physically draining. Not so in the Avalon which features spacious front seats almost as roomy as a full-size competitor like the Cadillac CT6 (55.1 inches hip room vs. 55.9, for those keeping track).

Manufacturer photo

In addition to the roominess, the top-shelf Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium includes literally all the bells and whistles for the Glengarry Glen Ross types. Our test model included the Entune Premium Audio system with a 7” touch-screen and all the apps you need (e.g. HD Radio, Sirius, Traffic) and slick technology like Qi wireless charging, to keep you entertained and informed.

Manufacturer photo

Of course, driving still requires driving skill, at least for now. The Avalon XLE came equipped with Toyota’s most robust safety package, Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) – P.  Features like the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist came in very handy during the long stretches of more open freeway.

Performance

You don’t buy this kind of mid-size sedan to break 0-60 records, although I found the Avalon Hybrid surprisingly quick and nimble for its size. No my friends, the true measure here is MPG. The Avalon shines with 40 mpg city, 39 highway.

The tach is not the most important gauge in the Avalon — the fuel gage is.

For a guy who is used to filling up thirsty trucks and cars, I was absolutely amazed at how a three-hour trek composed of stop-and-go traffic sprinkled with some full-throttle runs resulted in a tank was still over three-quarters full. You can definitely get used to that, especially if your job is comprised of shuttling the Smith family from point A to Z on their quest to find their dream home.

The Close

Sometimes, as salespeople say, it takes a lot of sizzle to sell the steak. In the case of the Avalon, the strategy Toyota seems to have embraced through the years with the Avalon is to let the steak speak for itself. Style took a backseat in some respects to functionality. The latest iteration, broke that mold by embracing more upscale styling and loading the Avalon chock-full of infotainment choices.

We eagerly await the arrival of the MY 2019 which should address the Avalon’s long-in-the-tooth styling. Get some new Camry flavor into the next Avalon and the full-size segment will have a hot sizzling steak of a sedan to contend with.

2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Premium

Price:

Base $38,950; As tested $40,132

Audio Package: Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation & App Suite

Engine:

2.5-liter 4-cylinder DOHC 16V D-4S Dual Injection with Dual VVT-i

Hybrid Synergy Drive System

Horsepower

268 hp @ 6200 rpm

Torque:

248 lb.-ft @ 4700 rpm

Drive configuration:

Front Wheel Drive

Transmission type:

6-speed Electronically Controlled automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) and sequential shift mode

Suspension:

Independent MacPherson strut front and rear suspension

Wheels and tires:

17″ alloy wheels

P215/55R17 tires

Brakes:

Power-assisted ventilated 11.65-in. front disc brakes;

Solid 11-in. rear disc brakes with hydraulic brake booster, Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) and Star Safety System™

Overall length/wheelbase:

195.3 inches/111 inches

Overall width:

72.2 inches

Overall height:

57.5 inches

Weight:

3461 pounds

Mileage estimates (mpg city/highway/combined)

40/39/40

EPA Size Classification:

Midsize

Warranty:

Basic Coverage – 36 months/36,000 miles

Powertrain Coverage – 60 months/60,000 miles

* Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.

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