The manual gear shifter isn't the only stick that's been disappearing from automobiles. With the market-wide adoption of the electronic parking brake, manual handbrakes have largely become part of history, as well. Toyota recently revived the handbrake, however, in an unexpected custom car built to drift – or, more accurately, slide.
Toyota team member and paralympic track and field athlete Jarryd Wallace wanted to create a surprise experience for his dad Jeff Wallace for Father's Day. Wallace settled on bringing pops to the track and sending him out for a hot lap with drifting specialist Ken Gushi. In an interesting twist, the chosen car was not a rear-wheel drive Supra or 86. Instead, it was a front-wheel drive Avalon TRD.
Full-size sedans aren't exactly in great demand at the moment, and at least one of the vehicles in this comparison has been rumored to be on the endangered species list. Yet, we've just had our first drive in the 2019 Toyota Avalon, and if anything has a chance of rejuvenating the segment a bit, it's an all-new version of what has long been the segment's benchmark.
To see how the new Avalon compares, we've put together the below spreadsheet featuring the Avalon's primary apples-to-apples rivals, the Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Impala. We also included the Nissan Maxima, which is comparable in price, sales and non-luxury badge, and which offers the sort of increased driver engagement promised by the new Avalon XSE and Touring trim levels. We also included the outgoing Avalon for reference as well as that car's luxury cousin, the Lexus ES, which can definitely be cross-shopped with the luxuriously trimmed Avalon Limited. You can use our Compare Cars tool to create your own comparison, such as one featuring the rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger or even Kia Stinger.
If the 2019 Toyota Avalon isn't fit enough to survive, then the entire full-size sedan species is doomed to extinction. It's really simple as that, because as the new-and-improved replacement for a car that was already well-entrenched as the segment benchmark, it stands the best chance of coaxing customers away from an onslaught of SUVs and similarly priced smaller sedans with fancier badges. Perhaps it could even snag a few people not yet old enough to collect Social Security.
That last point is key, because at 64 years old, the current Avalon's average buyer is actually a few years older than the segment average. While there's certainly nothing wrong with building a car for retirees, one must also acknowledge that fixed incomes and well, the inevitable march of time, will erode your customer base even more than it has (from about 71,000 when the current generation was introduced to about 32,600 in 2017). So, while Toyota isn't trying to capture young buyers, knocking a few years off that average would be nice.
While crossovers and SUVs are dominating the market, Toyota isn't ready to put its traditional saloons to rest, with the brand unveiling the fifth generation Avalon at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.
Underpinned by the TNGA architecture, the large Toyota sedan is now longer, wider, and lower than before, at 196in (4,978mm) long, 72.8in (1,849mm) wide, 56.5in (1,435mm) tall, with a 113in (2,870mm) long wheelbase.