A quick glance of the North American automotive landscape reveals an environment not too welcoming for traditional passenger cars. Actually, it’s beyond unfriendly. The public’s desire for crossovers, crossovers, crossovers makes the market as hospitable to large sedans as Pripyat, Ukraine, is to human life.
Nevertheless, Toyota’s unyielding desire for a full-size flagship sedan means the Avalon â€” a solid, safe, conservative model launched for the 1995 model year â€” will live to see another generation. And, judging by a teaser image released by the automaker on Friday, the 2019 Avalon is dressed to impress.
It might be the model’s last chance to make an impression.
The automaker isn’t saying much, only signalling the next-generation model’s scheduled debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Expect the reveal on January 15th. In its exceptionally brief media release, Toyota characterizes the next-gen Avalon as “style and dynamism, actualized.”
Perhaps the company’s PR folks read this article?
Anyway, as we can see from the image, the Avalon’s grilleÂ â€” already a gaping orificeÂ â€” stands to grow even larger for the 2019 model year. This time, however, it seems Toyota wants to combine 2018 Camry front end cues with that of its Lexus division, which doesn’t like little bits of body-color plastic cluttering up its meshy maws.
From the sculpted hood to the aggressive grille (itself filled with mesh of a sporty design) to the LED-bordered headlamps, it seems the new Avalon wants to be noticed. The question for Toyota is: who is it trying to impress? Are millennials going to give up their aspirations of owning a Nissan Rogue Sport in favor of a full-size sedan?
Maybe that’s taking it too far, but the company does need to appeal to younger buyers in the hopes of halting (or slowing) the model’s sales decline. Seniors increasingly like the ride height and all-weather assuredness offered by crossovers, but more seniors still buy traditional cars at a higher rate than, say, a 40-year-old. They’ll buy an Avalon because they owned one before and trust the nameplate. To lure as many buyers as possible, Toyota needs to cast the widest net. Tempt repeat buyers while also offering something capable of appealing to a younger set.
When the current-generation Avalon bowed for the 2013 model year, Toyota saw a drop in the average age of its buyers. No longer was the model’s clientele most likely to be 64 years of age (it dropped to 52-percent). Sales rose significantly over that of the stodgy and aged third-gen model.
The popularity didn’t last. Despite the model rising to a six-year sales high in 2013, by 2016 volume had dropped by over 32 percent. Avalon sales in November 2017 dropped 43.3 percent, year-over-year, in the United States, and volume over the first 11 months of 2017 is down 29.9 percent.