Farewell, Toyota Avalon: Production To End In 2022
After 26 years of bringing quiet, big-car comfort and Old Faithful-like reliability to the masses, Toyota will cease production of its Avalon sedan in 2022. Toyota planned to refresh the car this fall, but after notching just 10,328 sales in the first half of the year, according to MotorIntelligence data, the automaker will instead send its full-size flagship into the sunset.
The Avalon’s demise was first reported by Automotive News, but a Toyota spokesperson confirmed the news to Forbes Wheels.
The original Avalon debuted in February of 1994 and represented a return to a niche Toyota had abandoned. In the 1970 and 1980s, the company fielded the large and luxurious Cressida, but that car was largely eclipsed by the advent of the Lexus brand in 1989, and quietly dropped in 1992.
The new Avalon gave Toyota loyalists a larger car than a Camry that was less expensive and distinctly more American-feeling than a Lexus. Early TV commercials, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, depicted the car floating on a cloud and trumpeted its six-passenger room and ride comfort while inviting buyers to “experience the tranquility,” tropes which could easily have applied to a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser.
That original Avalon seemed laser-targeted at cars the Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile Delta 88. Like them it was front-wheel drive with a standard V6 engine. While not exciting, it was quiet, comfortable and refined like those older alternatives. It was also made and sold exclusively in America, at Toyota’s factory in Georgetown, Kentucky, where it is still built today. (Toyota says the end of production will not mean any job losses at the facility.)
Subsequent Avalons stayed close to the quiet, big and comfy formula, though Toyota sought to expand model’s appeal with four-cylinder models, hybrids, all-wheel drive and even the TRD version. This latter model, with its aggressive suspension and blackout trim, sought to dispel the Avalon’s “car for grandparents” image.
But the full-size sedan herd has been thinning for years, largely due to the soaring popularity of SUVs. People buy big cars for space and comfort, two wants which crossovers are particularly adept at meeting, albeit with reduced fuel economy and added noise.
Midsize cars have also encroached. The Avalon is just 3.8 inches longer and has only one additional cubic-foot of trunk space compared to the related, and less-expensive, Camry. The only healthy seller among traditional, popular-brand big cars is the Dodge Charger, which trades on performance and image as much as space or convenience.
Avalon sales peaked at 104,078 units in 2000, but hit 70,990 as recently as 2013. When the current generation Avalon was introduced in 2019, however, sales did not improve from the previous model. In the past four years, many competitors have dropped away, including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus and Hyundai Azera. Kia dropped its Cadenza and K900 sedans in January, and Volkswagen announced the end of the slightly smaller Passat just last week.
Like the Avalon, many of these cars had a reputation for skewing towards wafting comfort and quiet operation rather than fun. But while the Fast and Furious crowd probably won’t mourn the Avalon, some buyers might.
All generations of the Avalon have offered rock-solid reliability according to authorities like JD Power, Consumer Reports, and the Dashboard Light Long-Term Quality Index. We’ve included the Avalon on several of our lists of the Best Used Cars for $5,000 and $10,000 (and an honorable mention for $15,000) based on its rep for reputation for comfort, low-cost operation and no-hassle reliability.
Come 2022, only the most traditional of old-school sedans, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, may remain though there are still plenty of bigger premium-brand sedans out there for those with larger budgets. That includes the dimensionally-identical and closely related Lexus ES, which is also built at Georgetown.
The all-wheel drive Avalon Limited and XLE models, as well as the front-wheel drive TRD, will be dropped at the end of the 2021 model year. The other Avalons will continue until August of next year. 2022 may be your final chance to experience the tranquility, but Toyota’s official statement on the end of the Avalon also says it remains committed to the sedan segment, and “encourages customers to stay tuned for future developments.”