Have you seen the 2020 Toyota Highlander? It’s not available to purchase yet, having only debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April, but a quick glance shows that Toyota’s crossover…

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Road Test

2020 Toyota Highlander
Now that you’ve seen the upcoming 2020 Toyota Highlander, how do you like it? (Photo: Toyota)

Have you seen the 2020 Toyota Highlander? It’s not available to purchase yet, having only debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April, but a quick glance shows that Toyota’s crossover SUV division is abandoning its recent Lexus-inspired grandiosity in favour of a subtler approach, much like the 2014 through 2016 Highlander did. 

You might remember that Toyota redesigned the Highlander for the 2014 model year, giving it a lot more character and much more refinement inside, while increasing the maximum seat count from seven to eight, and then after enjoying much success with this newfound mid-size crossover formula the automaker replaced the simpler Toyota truck-inspired front grille and fascia for a ritzier chromed up look just three years later for the 2017 model year, which honestly hadn’t hurt sales until recently. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The 2019 Toyota Highlander, shown here in as-tested Hybrid Limited trim, offers up a ritzy, chrome-laden look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I’m not a fan of all the glitz and glam adorning the face of this otherwise clean, uncluttered and straightforward family hauler (it still looks quite nice from the rear), but possibly due to its new façade and likely more so because of the automotive market’s general adoption of crossover SUVs in place of cars, Canadian sales were up by 17.70 percent from calendar years 2016 to 2017, although they dropped by 4.06 percent last year and over the first half of 2019 have slipped another 17.70 percent (bizarre that the model’s fall from grace so far this year is in perfect sync with its growth two years ago). 

So why, in a market that’s supposedly turning away from traditional cars to crossovers and SUVs, has the Highlander been losing so much ground? Another glance at the stats shows it’s not alone, at least amongst mid-size SUV sales that have fallen by 7.66 percent from calendar years 2017 to 2018. In fact, of the 24 crossovers and SUVs currently selling into the mid-size volume segment (including raised wagons like Subaru’s Outback, two-row crossover SUVs like Hyundai’s Santa Fe, three-row crossover SUVs like this Highlander, and traditional body-on-frame SUVs like Toyota’s 4Runner), eight saw positive growth and 10 experienced a swing in the negative direction, with another five seeing only growing due to being completely new models. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The Highlander is certainly looks fit and handsome from the rear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If you’re wondering how the Highlander fits into the scheme of things, here’s a breakdown ranked in order of popularity with calendar year 2019 Q2 sales and growth/shrinkage rates shown in parentheses: Ford Edge at 8,709 units (+9.05); Hyundai Santa Fe at 8,225 (-11.51); Jeep Grand Cherokee 8,033 (+26.94); Kia Sorento at 6,965 (+0.32); Chevrolet Blazer 6,812 (sales started in January 2019); Nissan Murano 5,062 (-8.00); Toyota Highlander 4,985 (-17.70); Dodge Durango 4,900 (+54.14); Subaru Outback 4,212 (-4.77); Ford Explorer at 4,100 (-45.14 due to a model changeover); Volkswagen Atlas 3,679 (+14.01%); Honda Pilot 3,477 (+22.43); Toyota 4Runner 3,398 (+10.18%); Nissan Pathfinder 2,597 (-10.63); Chevrolet Traverse 2,443 (-16.36); GMC Acadia 1,956 (-3.88%); Ford Flex 1,812 (+115.71, shocking, I know); Subaru Ascent 1,721 (sales started in January 2019); Mazda CX-9 1,573 (-7.58); Dodge Journey 1,488 (-39.19); Kia Telluride 1,072 (sales began in March 2019); Honda Passport 921 (sales started in February 2019); Hyundai Palisade 180 (sales began in June 2019); Volkswagen Touareg 17 (-96.91 because it’s a discontinued model). 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The top half of the grille is attractive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Don’t expect to see all of these models in the same order at year’s end, thanks to redesigns (the new Explorer should be closer to it’s previous third place, and the aforementioned 2020 Highlander will no doubt get a boost too) and all-new models swelling the ranks (the new Blazer’s sales are impressive), but the leading brands will likely maintain their leadership for good reason, and one of those leaders has long been Toyota. 

Being the last year of this well-seasoned third-generation K-platform-based (XU50) Highlander (the new model will ride on the GA-K version of the Toyota New Global Architecture/TNGA), Toyota hasn’t done much to lure in additional buyers. In fact, it’s only added an optional set of LED fog lamps in place of last year’s halogens, which look almost identical from a distance. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Here’s shot of those circular fog lights that now use LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Toyota loaned me a 2019 Highlander Hybrid Limited for my weeklong test, by the way, in the exact same Celestial Silver Metallic and Black perforated leather combination as last year’s version, a model I reviewed in detail along with a lovely “Ooh La La Rouge Mica” (that’s really the name) painted conventionally powered 2018 Highlander Limited (both models get the LED fog light upgrade this year). 

Updates aside, I still find it shocking that Toyota is the only mainstream volume brand to offer optional electrification in this mid-size class, being that most key competitors have had hybrid drivetrains within their given lineups for decades (although I’ll give Chrysler a shout-out for its Pacifica Hybrid plug-in because it’s at least spacious enough to compete). More power to Toyota, as this Highlander Hybrid remains the most fuel efficient mid-size crossover SUV available, at a time when our country is experiencing our highest pump prices ever, and no end to the budget gouging in sight if our various governments continue to have any say. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Get ready to be impressed by the Highlander’s interior, which is one of the nicest in this mid-size SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Claimed 2019 Highlander Hybrid ratings are 8.1 L/100km in the city, 8.5 on the highway and 8.3 combined, compared to 12.0 city, 8.9 highway and 10.6 combined for the most similarly equipped mid-range XLE and top-line Limited trims with the conventionally-powered V6, AWD, and upgraded auto start/stop system. 

Before showing you all competitive model Transport Canada fuel economy numbers, it’s important to note that both Highlander models offer a lot more standard power. Where the majority of rivals come standard with four-cylinder engines, the regular Highlander now uses a 3.5-litre V6 good for 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, driving either the front wheels in LX trim, or all four in LX AWD, XLE and Limited trims, via an eight-speed automatic with available auto idle start/stop, whereas the Highlander Hybrid uses the same engine running the more efficient Atkinson-cycle yet, thanks to its potent electric motor/battery combination, makes 306 net horsepower and an undisclosed (but more than sufficient) amount of torque, which ramps up near immediately due to 100 percent of electrified twist arriving instantaneously. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
All instruments are nicely laid out and the fit, finish and tactile quality of all switchgear is very good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

From the list of three-row competitors above, the most efficient (when compared with AWD and auto start/stop if available) rival is Kia’s Sorento at 11.2 L/100km city, 9.0 highway and 10.2 combined, but the Sorento is quite a bit smaller than the Highlander and, like its platform-sharing Hyundai Santa Fe that is no longer available with three rows so as to make way for the brand new Palisade, Kia buyers looking for more passenger and cargo room will likely move up to the Telluride. 

Just the same, after the Sorento the thriftiest three-row mid-size SUVs are as follows: GMC Acadia: 11.3 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 10.5 combined; Mazda CX-9 at 11.6, 9.1 and 10.5 respectively; Highlander V6 at 12.0, 8.9 and 10.6; Nissan Pathfinder at 12.1, 8.9 and 10.7; Honda Pilot at 12.4, 9.3 and 11.0; Hyundai Palisade at 12.3, 9.6 and 11.1; Kia Telluride at 12.5, 9.6 and 11.2; Dodge Durango at 12.7, 9.6 and 11.3; Ford Explorer at 13.1, 9.2 and 11.4; Chevrolet Traverse at 13.7, 9.5 and 11.8; Volkswagen Atlas at 13.8, 10.2 and 12.2; Dodge Journey at 14.5, 10.0 and 12.4; Ford Flex at 14.7, 10.7 and 12.9; and Toyota 4Runner at 14.3, 11.9 and 13.2 respectively. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The gauge cluster is bright, colourful and filled with useful hybrid-related info. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The only mid-size (kind of) crossover SUV that comes close to the Highlander Hybrid as far as fuel economy goes, albeit with only two rows, five passengers, and much less cargo capacity or power is the four-cylinder equipped Subaru Outback, which still comes up short at 9.4 L/100km city, 7.3 highway and 8.5 combined, while more closely sized, but still two-row, five-passenger and four-cylinder equipped options that improve on the V6-powered Highlander’s fuel-efficiency include the base Ford Edge at 11.4 city, 8.3 highway and 10.0 combined; the Hyundai Santa Fe at 11.2, 8.7 and 10.1 respectively; and the Nissan Murano at 11.7, 8.5 and 10.3; while just for the sake of finishing the list, the new similarly smaller Honda Passport is rated at 12.5, 9.8 and 11.3 respectively; the new Chevrolet Blazer at 12.7, 9.5 and 11.3, while finally the Jeep Grand Cherokee gets a 12.7, 9.6 and 11.3 respective rating. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The overhead parking camera was as step up from last year’s regular rearview camera. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The electromechanical portion of the Highlander Hybrid’s drivetrain is made up of two permanent magnet synchronous motors, one for driving the front wheels and the other for those in the rear, plus a sealed nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) traction battery. Yes, no lithium-ion battery for this now classic Hybrid Synergy Drive hybrid system, but that’s not a bad thing. Consider for a moment that NiMH batteries have been in automotive use since the original Prius went on sale in 1997, and plenty of Prius taxis can be found running around Canadian cities with more than a million kilometres on their original battery packs. NiMH batteries have a proven track record, plus older batteries can be rebuilt using newer modules, as they’ve basically been the same since 2001. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The leather upholstered driver’s seat was wonderfully comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The only negative with the Highlander Hybrid, at least from a driving perspective, is the replacement of the regular model’s eight-speed automatic with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT), but it’s only an issue when pushing the SUV harder through fast-paced backroads than you will likely ever do. Around town and on the highway both transmissions are wonderfully smooth and easy to get along with, while Toyota gives the ECVT a fairly conventional feel thanks to stepped ratios that mimic a traditional automatic, as well as a sequential shift mode when wanting to get sporty, or merely downshift for engine-braking. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Second-row roominess is more than adequate. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As for the Hybrid’s all-wheel drive system, it worked well enough in the rain and even in the mountaintop snow I was able to locate during my test week. Toyota has had a baker’s dozen of years to perfect this basic system, moving up from the original 2006 Highlander Hybrid’s 3.3-litre V6 to the current 3.5-litre version, but other than that sticking with this tried and true drivetrain formula, and I’ve never had an issue pulling myself out of sticky or slippery situations, snow banks included. 

Breaking the $50k barrier (at $50,950 plus freight and fees) the 2019 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t come cheap in base XLE trim, while this full-load Limited version hits the road for an even loftier $57,260, but then again a similarly optioned 2019 Chevrolet Traverse High Country comes in at an even pricier $60,100, and the only slightly more upscale 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir will set you back a stratospheric $62,100, and they don’t even offer hybrid drivetrains, so maybe the Highlander Hybrid Limited isn’t so expensive after all. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Third row comfort is more than adequate for smaller folk. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

By the way, make sure to check out CarCostCanada for detailed pricing of all cars just mentioned, including trims, packages and options, plus money saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, whether purchasing the new 2019 Highlander, 2019 Chevy Traverse, 2019 Buick Enclave, or any other mid-size crossover SUV (I’ve got them all linked above if you’d like to know more). 

This is where I’d normally go into detail about those trims, packages and options just noted, but it makes more sense to link to my 2018 Toyota Highlander V6 AWD and Hybrid Road Test review and you can read all about it, because, as mentioned earlier, nothing at all has changed from 2018 to 2019 other than those LED fog lamps. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Cargo space is identical in conventional and Hybrid powered Highlanders. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Suffice to say this is a really impressive SUV, with plenty of power, a wonderful ride, decent enough handling, near premium levels of interior quality that even include woven cloth wrapped around all eight roof pillars and plenty of soft-touch surfacing, a nice colourful gauge cluster filled with the types of hybrid controls expected from a partially electric vehicle, a reasonably good centre touchscreen that’s now only overshadowed because of Toyota’s excellent new Entune infotainment interface, comfortable seating from front to back, loads of cargo space, a great reliability record, and superb fuel economy. 

The only reason not to consider the 2019 Highlander Hybrid is the same factor for getting one sooner than later, the new 2020 Highlander Hybrid that will show up later this year. It promises to be a step up in styling, refinement and performance, which might give pause to anyone buying this tried and tested model, but that said the current version is not only well proven, it should also be easier for your to get a significant discount. Once again, check out CarCostCanada for any rebate info, while it’s always a good idea to find out what the dealer pays for the vehicle you want in order to negotiate the best deal possible.

Back in January of 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit while introducing the FT-1 (Future Toyota) concept, which was the styling inspiration behind the new Supra sports car,…

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited Road Test

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The new C-HR certainly lives up to Toyota president Akio Toyoda’s new credo of “no boring cars.” (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back in January of 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit while introducing the FT-1 (Future Toyota) concept, which was the styling inspiration behind the new Supra sports car, Toyota president Akio Toyoda issued a companywide decree for, “no more boring cars,” and the C-HR before you is now a good example of what he was requesting, at least when it comes to design. So what do you think? Does it have Toyoda-san’s desire for “style that stirs peoples’ emotions and makes them say ‘I want to drive this’?” 

The 63-year-old grandson of Toyota group’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, likely approves as he was in charge when the C-HR was initially being drawn up, signed off on those designs, and gave the go-ahead for the production model before you, and remains in charge of the corporation today, so therefore reaps the rewards for a job well done, or alternatively pays any penalties for missing the mark. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Here it is from a more aggressive angle, showing off its aggressive front detailing and this Limited model’s sporty alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I’ll reserve comment on CH-R styling, first because my opinion is irrelevant, you’re the buyer after all, so only you should be deciding what appeals to your eyes, and secondly because I’ve already admitted to liking Nissan’s Juke, which is about as polarizing a design as any to ever grace Canadian roads. In other words, my taste isn’t your taste, so feel free to like what you like, and choose not to buy what you don’t. 

What matters more is Toyota finally filling the subcompact SUV segment with some sort of entry, and I give them kudos for bravery, being that most having already succeeded here did so by leaning toward practicality over originality. That Toyota showed up with a sportier looking, smaller than average entry, and therefore putting styling ahead of practicality, was certainly a surprise. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
There’s nothing subtle about the new C-HR, which will either work for you or not. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

A quick look at the segment sales leaders clearly shows that passenger/cargo roominess and flexibility is king, with models like the Honda HR-V, Kia Soul, and Subaru Crosstrek dominating up until last year, and newcomers like the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Kona finding even stronger sales more recently due to their pragmatic approach and more. It’s as if the new C-HR picked up where the now discontinued Nissan Juke left off (that latter SUV replaced by the new Kicks, which is selling well), albeit without the top-line Juke’s impressive performance. Performance may also be a key ingredient for the Mazda CX-3’s formidable Canadian sales, plus arguably attractive styling. 

The C-HR is now in its second model year after arriving on the scene in May of 2017, and is quite a nice subcompact SUV. My tester was outfitted in new Limited trim, which reaches to a higher level than last year’s XLE that I previously tested and reviewed, and I must say it combines mostly comfortable operation with the majority of its peers’ high-level features, reasonably strong performance, and excellent fuel economy. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
LED headlights are standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Interior refinement is a C-HR strongpoint, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it overachieves when compared to longstanding competitors like the aforementioned CX-3 in its top-line GT trim, which is really spectacular, even when using this Limited model as Toyota’s standard-bearer. Top of the goodies list is a padded and stitched leatherette dash-top, which includes a large bolster that spans from the right side of the instrument panel to the passenger’s door, while a similar albeit smaller padded piece gets fitted to the left side of the gauge cluster. The door uppers receive the same high-quality soft touch composite surfacing, while the armrests are even softer and more comfortable. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The C-HR’s details are really nice when viewed up close and personal. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If piano black lacquered plastic is your thing, you’ll be overjoyed with all of the shiny, inky stuff found in this tiny Toyota SUV. I personally would like to see less, and not because of its addition to interior styling, but rather that it tends to attract dust like a magnet and scratch all too easily. Better, the door inserts and lower panels are finished in a diamond-textured hard plastic that’s like nothing else I’ve ever seen in the car industry, looking good and appearing durable. More importantly it doesn’t feel cheap like this segment’s usual glossy hard plastic, plus the tiny diamonds complement the even more unusual assortment of diamond-shaped dimples carved into the roofliner above. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
These hidden rear door handles provide an unusual way to get inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Before delving into any additional C-HR interior styling and quality issues, I should point out this 2019 C-HR received some significant upgrades that should help it find more buyers than last year’s model, starting with a new base LE trim level that chops over a $1,000 from the 2018 C-HR’s base price. Still, $23,675 is hardly as affordable as some of the sales leaders mentioned earlier, the Qashqai now starting at just $20,198 (only $200 more than last year despite getting loads of new features), and the new Nissan Kicks arriving as the category’s best bargain at just $17,998. This said its list of standard features is generous to say the least, so keep reading if you want some more detail about that. 

Another factor going against the C-HR’s success is the much larger and more accommodating Nissan Rogue costing a mere $3k and change more, while the all-new 2019 RAV4 starts at just $27,790 (find new vehicle pricing for all makes and models including the C-HR and RAV4 at CarCostCanada, with detailed info on trims, packages and options, plus otherwise hard to get rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The C-HR’s interior is quite upscale, especially in Limited trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

On the positive, the base C-HR LE includes Toyota’s new Entune 3.0 infotainment system that I happen to love. This includes a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen and supports Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em), and Toyota’s excellent in-house smartphone integration app. I like the Entune phone app much more than Android Auto, both when using it on my Samsung S9 and within the car’s interface. Better yet, the big new display now incorporates the C-HR’s backup camera for a much clearer and safer rear view, which previously was a tiny monitor crammed into the rearview mirror, and thus hardly useful at all. 

Entune smartphone integration also includes the ability to link the Scout GPS app to the centre display for navigation maps and routing, which proved easy to operate and very accurate, while Entune App Suite Connect boasts separate apps for traffic, weather, Slacker, Yelp, sports, stocks, fuel and NPR One, although I’m not sure if anyone in Canada will care much about the latter U.S.-specific National Public Radio station. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The dash layout is nice, with everything close and easy to reach. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Some additional standard features found on the base C-HR LE worth mentioning include automatic high beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, remote access, an acoustic glass windshield, auto up/down powered windows all around, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display within the gauge cluster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone auto climate control, six-speaker audio, the piano black lacquered instrument panel trim noted earlier, fabric upholstery, front sport seats, 60/40-split rear seatbacks, a cargo cover, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, all the usual active and passive safety features including a driver’s knee airbag and rear side thorax airbags, plus more, which is a very generous entry-level assortment of features that should put to rest any criticisms about its base price being higher than some rivals. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
We like the sporty gauge cluster, while the colour multi-info display at centre is useful. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Last year’s sole XLE trim level is pretty well carryover for 2019, other than its higher $25,725 price and the new Entune 3.0 Audio Plus system, with its larger display, noted earlier. Additionally, XLE trim gets automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance SOS button, and enhanced roadside assistance, with yet more features including 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, upgraded cloth upholstery, heatable front seats (which are normally standard fare in Canada), and two-way powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat. 

An XLE Premium package, which pushes the price up to $27,325, adds 18-inch alloy wheels, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, heated power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The new standard 8-inch touchscreen is a big improvement over last year’s centre display, especially now that the rearview camera is integrated within. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As noted earlier in this review, also new for 2019 is this as-tested $28,775 top-line Limited trim, which adds rain-sensing wipers, a very useful windshield wiper de-icer (especially after the past two ultra-cold winters), ambient interior lighting, and nicely textured leather upholstery in black or brown. 

While the two new trim levels and upgraded infotainment system are improvements over last year’s C-HR, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine might leave some potential buyers (especially those coming out of the aforementioned Juke) feeling like its performance doesn’t measure up to its sporty exterior design due to just 144 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque, a lone continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a focus on fuel economy rather than get-up-and-go, plus no all-wheel drive option, front-drive being the only driveline configuration available. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Entune 3.0 includes a Scout GPS app that lets you set up navigation coordinates on your phone (shown) before displaying them on the C-HR’s touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Then again if you’re looking for a sporty looking SUV with great fuel economy the C-HR’s claimed 8.7 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 8.2 combined Transport Canada rating might be just what your inflation deflated, carbon tax inflated personal budget demands. 

Also a positive, the C-HR’s wide stance and low profile make it inherently well balanced, resulting in handling that mostly meets Toyoda-san’s never boring ideals. Once again it’s no CX-3, or Kona for that matter, but its MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone/trailing arm rear suspension setup is more than adequate for coursing through a serpentine back road at a speedy pace, while its ride quality is amongst the best in this class. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
Limited trim’s texture leather upholstery is a nice upgrade, while the C-HR’s seats are comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

While we’re talking comfort, the front seats are superb, and its driving position is much better for my body type than some other Toyota models. My legs are longer than my torso, so therefore I normally need to push my seat farther rearward than someone else measuring five-foot-eight, before adjusting the steering column as far back as can be. Unfortunately, some Toyotas simply don’t fit me due to a lack of telescopic steering column reach, so I was once again happy to be reminded that the C-HR provides a highly adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, which provided me all the comfort and control needed. 

Even pushing the driver’s seat far enough rearward for my longish legs, I still had about four inches from the front seatback to my knees, plus about three inches above my head (approximately two inches less than up front), which should help taller passengers feel right at home. I also enjoyed enough space from side to side in all outboard positions. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The rear seating area isn’t the largest in the class, but should be ample for most body types. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Strangely, there’s still no folding centre armrest in back, but at least Toyota provides cupholders at armrest level in the rear door panels. Fortunately the C-HR’s rear seats are quite comfortable, particularly for the lower back. Then again I didn’t appreciate rear seat visibility out the side window, the SUV’s oddly shaped doors forcing rear passengers to look directly into a black panel when turning their heads. This makes me question whether kids will like riding in back, even when seated in a booster.  

Another concern you may want to question is cargo roominess. The C-HR’s sloping rear liftgate cuts into vertical space, resulting in a scant 538 litres (19.0 cubic feet) of capacity behind the rear seatback, which lags behind the segment leaders. Of course you can fold the C-HR’s 60/40-split rear seatbacks down for a much more accommodating 1,031 litres (36.4 cu ft) of available space, but once again it’s nowhere near the largest in this class. 

2019 Toyota C-HR Limited
The C-HR falls a bit short on cargo space, but most should find it suitable enough. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I hate to leave any review on a negative, so I’ll point out that the C-HR managed an impressive five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, and thanks to Toyota’s good name should provide reliable service throughout its tenure. Yes, I know that’s nowhere near the level of excitement that Mr. Toyoda would likely want to hear from a review of one his newest products, but some vehicles were built more for comfort, convenience, efficiency and dependability than speed, handling or wow factor, and that should certainly be reason enough to consider a new C-HR for your personal ride.

Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that…

2019 Toyota 86 GT

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Toyota’s 86 is still one of the best performance car value’s around. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that it might be getting axed due to ever-slowing sales, the deafening outcry caused a U.S.-market Toyota spokesperson to declare that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

“As [Toyota president] Akio Toyoda said at the reveal of the 2020 Supra, Toyota is committed to building exciting vehicles, including sports cars. The 86 has been in the Toyota family since 2013 and the plan is that it will continue to be a part of Toyota’s sports car line-up.” 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
The 86 still has beautiful lines, despite getting on in years. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

A quick look at sale numbers makes it easy to understand why many were in doubt of its future, with 2017 to 2018 calendar year-over-year deliveries down 40.2 percent in Canada, which was only outdone—to the negative—by Fiat’s 124 Spider that saw a decline of 52.7 percent, while the 86’ near identical Subaru BRZ saw its sales drop by 23.3 percent, but then again it didn’t have as far to fall. Those two models actually switched places for the first time at the close of 2018, with more Canadians choosing the BRZ than 86, the final tally being 604 for Subaru and 550 for Toyota. This last number might not seem like much when compared to the 1,825 FR-S coupes Scion sold in its first full year of 2013, but once again considering that it hasn’t changed all that much since it debuted just prior, and then factoring in that all car sales have taken a beating against the growth of crossover SUVs, the 86 is actually holding up quite well. 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Toyota added these standard LED headlamps for its 2017 refresh. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Incidentally, the entire front fascia was modified for 2017, and its nicely detailed LED headlamps added for a more sophisticated look. Another change saw the front fender vent elongated and the “86” insignia redesigned and placed lower on the side panel, while revised taillight lenses filled with LEDs modernized the seven-year-old model’s look. 

The interior has always been pretty nice, but the 2013, 2014 and 2015 model year FR-S examples I drove never let me inside with proximity-sensing keyless access, started via pushbutton, kept me warm via dual-zone automatic climate control, skinned their seats in leather trimmed with microsuede, or covered their primary instrument hoods and passenger-side dash sections in padded and stitched microsuede like this 2019 86, while this new model boasts other improvements as well. 

2019 Toyota 86 GT
Make sure to return for our full road test review, but until then check the photo gallery above for loads of detailed images… (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Certainly there are some that petition Toyota for more power, but this lightweight 1,252-kilo (2,760-lb) rear-drive sports coupe makes the most of its 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque with one of the nimblest chassis’ in its price range. 

Make sure to come back for our full road test review to be reminded of why sports car enthusiasts the world over keep the Toyota 86 close to their hearts, even if fewer are anteing up with $30k of their own to take one home. We’d certainly love to keep ours for as long as Toyota would let us.

If you feel like we do, check out CarCostCanada to learn about exact pricing for each trim, package and option, plus don’t forget to check if there are any rebates, and make sure to find out about the 86’s dealer invoice pricing that will help you get the best price when negotiating with your local Toyota dealer…

Toyota will give its ever-popular Corolla compact sedan a fresh new face for 2020, but thanks to the all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback there’s no need to wait.  This sporty new five-door variant carries…

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The great looking new Corolla Hatchback won’t be turning away any potential buyers due to styling. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Toyota will give its ever-popular Corolla compact sedan a fresh new face for 2020, but thanks to the all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback there’s no need to wait. 

This sporty new five-door variant carries on where the Corolla iM left off, the latter model a superb little car that deserved a lot more attention that it received due to impressive interior quality and adept handling, but alas it struggled from anonymity because it wore a Scion badge. 

Past brand identity problems aside, the real reason the iM was so good had to do with its European roots. The iM, and now the new Corolla Hatchback, are in fact second- and third-generation Toyota Auris models, their more demanding Euro-target audience making them feel more upscale inside than any previous North American-market Corolla, and causing them to drive with greater focus on performance. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Toyota calls the Hatchback the Corolla Sport in Japan, a much more suitable name. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Corolla Hatchback offers one engine and two transmission choices. The engine, a direct-injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder, incorporates the usual VVT-i as well as VVT-iE, the former electrically powering the variable valve timing system via the intake cam, and the latter via the exhaust cam, resulting in 168 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, whereas the transmissions include the usual six-speed manual in lower trims and a rather elaborately named alternative dubbed Direct Shift Continuously Variable Transmission (Direct Shift-CVT), which is an automatic CVT boasting a manual mode with 10 forward speeds via Simulated Shift Control. Agreed, it doesn’t sound like an ordinary continuously variable transmission, but does the Direct Shift-CVT live up to the hype of its complex nomenclature? 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
We’ll see a version of these LED headlamps in the next-gen 2020 Corolla sedan too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, we’ll tell all in our upcoming road test review, including commentary on ride and handling that should continue to be a highlight with the Corolla Hatchback thanks to a variation of the iM’s independent multi-link rear suspension, the sedan outfitted with a less capable rear twist-beam design. 

All of this high-end kit doesn’t come cheap, although the 2019 Corolla Hatchback’s $20,980 starting only seems steep when comparing it to the entry-level Corolla sedan’s $16,790. The new Hatchback comes well equipped for just under $21k, including full LED headlamps with automatic high beams, LED taillights, proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, automatic climate control, a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with a backup camera, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Toyota’s proprietary Entune smartphone integration that also comes with Entune App Suite Connect featuring traffic, weather, sports, stocks, a fuel station locator, Slacker, Yelp, and NPR One, while additional standard kit includes six-speaker audio, power windows with auto up/down all around, all the segment’s usual active and passive safety features plus an airbag for the driver’s knees, pre-collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure alert and road departure warning with steering assist, and adaptive cruise control. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
These 19-inch alloys come standard with the top-line XSE. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Move up to the CVT for a reasonable $1,000 and the list includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane tracing assist, and Scout GPS Link navigation/route guidance added to Entune App Suite Connect, while my tester was also outfitted in top-line XSE trim that substitutes Scout GPS Link with its own embedded navigation and otherwise fills the centre touchscreen with Entune 3.0 Premium Audio that includes traffic and weather info, Entune Destination Assist, Entune Safety Connect featuring automatic collision notification, a stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistance, and otherwise updates infotainment with satellite radio and wireless charging. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
These LED taillights add a new level of sophistication to the Corolla nameplate. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

What’s more, the base model’s 15-inch steel wheels get replaced by a sweet looking set of machine-finished 18-inch rims on grippy 225/40 all-seasons, while LED fog lamps enhance the front fascia, chrome gets added to the rear bumper, and the interior gets updated with an eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, front seat heaters, special Sport fabric upholstery with leatherette trim, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel (with paddle shifters when upgraded to the CVT), a 7.0-inch digital driver’s display, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and an anti-theft system, all for $26,980 with the manual or $27,980 with the CVT. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The outgoing Corolla iM benefited by a much more upscale interior than the Corolla sedan, and so does the new Corolla Hatchback. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Notably, some of that kit gets pulled up from lesser SE and SE Upgrade trims, which are available for $22,580 and $23,980 respectively, but that’s it with respect to factory options except for $225 Blizzard Pearl paint that’s only offered in top-line XSE trim. This means my tester’s Smoked Paprika Metallic is one of six available no-cost standard colours in XSE guise, the seventh a shade dubbed Super White that’s only offered in base and SE trims. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
This semi-digital gauge cluster modernizes the Corolla’s driving experience. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Some dealer added accessories worth noting include a dash camera for $650, which really should be on everyone’s must-have list, a $155 cargo liner, an $80 cargo net, and $250 worth of door sill plates, while the exterior can be dressed up with a seriously sporty extended rear rooftop spoiler for $535. 

By the way, all of the 2019 Corolla Hatchback’s pricing information can be found at CarCostCanada, including trims, packages, and standalone options, plus you can also find out about any available rebates, as well as dealer invoice pricing that could help you save thousands when negotiating the purchase of your new car.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
The Corolla Hatchback delivers big on features, especially in XSE trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Corolla Hatchback, which gets the more exciting Corolla Sport nameplate in Japan, rolls on the compact GA-C version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular unibody platform that also underpins current versions of the Corolla sedan and Touring Sports (the latter wagon sadly only available in other markets), Prius/Prius Plug-in/Prime, C-HR compact crossover, and upcoming Lexus UX compact luxury crossover, making it one of the more ubiquitous platforms in existence. 

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback XSE
Are these sporty looking seats comfortable and supportive? Check out our upcoming review to find out. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I know that most readers will be unfamiliar with the outgoing Corolla iM, but for the interest of the few that are this new Corolla Hatchback measures a full 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) longer than its predecessor at 4,375 mm (172.2 in), while its wheelbase spans 40 mm (1.6 in) farther between the axles at 2,640 mm (103.9 in). The new model has also grown from side-to-side, expanded by 30 mm (1.2 in) to 1,790 mm (70.5 in), while its overall height has decreased by 25 mm (1.0 in) to 1,435 mm (56.5 in). What about mass? The Corolla Hatchback’s curb weight is actually up by a substantive 118 kilograms (260 lbs) to 1,388 kg (3,060 lbs), but this extra girth is more than offset by the aforementioned engine’s increase of 31 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of torque, at least on paper. 

Come back for our review to find out how it feels by the seat of the pants, and whether or not its supercalifragilisticexpialidocious CVT lives up to its longwinded name. Until then, scroll back up to enjoy our comprehensive photo gallery…

Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan.  That said they should…

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The redesigned 2019 Toyota Avalon has taken on a much bolder new face, made sportier in base XSE trim. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Lovers of big full-size four-door cars aught to be giving Toyota a collective slap on the back, not to mention anteing up for its completely redesigned 2019 Avalon luxury sedan. 

That said they should also be lovers of off-the-charts mechanical aeration and otherwise eccentric styling cues front to back, because the new Avalon lays to rest any preconceived notions of conservatism initiated by the yawn-inducing 1995–1999 first-generation model, or for that matter the oddly proportioned yet still boring 2000–2004 version, the much improved yet nevertheless forgettable 2005–2012 third-gen car, and (IMHO) the quite elegant and therefore best-yet 2005–2012 fourth-generation model. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon gets completely new rear styling too, with a more dramatic taillight treatment and a sporty deck lid spoiler in XSE guise. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

While I opined against the oversized grille that visually weighed down the outgoing model, this new 2019 Avalon breaks the mould that previously cast the world’s largest engine vents, now staking claim on the ultimate gaping maw award, if there ever were such an accolade. My goodness what were they thinking? This design must be targeting a different market than North America, or possibly Toyota knows something about its aging Avalon demographic that we don’t, but boy-oh-boy this is one mind-bogglingly bizarre front fascia. At least it’s not boring, our tester’s base XSE trim line (a new designation for this model) making matters more unusual by substituting the top-line Limited model’s chrome for loads of glossy black detailing most everywhere that wasn’t tastefully painted in an earthy metallic dubbed Brownstone. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The shy need not apply, due to one of the largest, most aggressive looking grilles in the auto industry. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Avalon’s previously elegant rear quarters have been radicalized too, from a design I could have easily called beautiful to one that’s been hit with the Prius stick. Ok, it’s not quite as whacky as the world’s best-selling hybrid, but it’s revolutionary to the eyes thanks to a multi-angled taillight cluster featuring a body-wide light bar at centre, this branded with “AVALON” block lettering in the middle. A tastefully small “XSE” badge lets passersby know you didn’t spend as much as Avalon Limited owners, or alternatively that you’re an Av buyer that likes your ride on the sportier side. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
These LED-enhanced headlights come standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Ok, you’ve got to know that last comment was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Despite the outgoing model being a decent handler, better even than some direct competitors, one of which is professed to be a “four-door sports car” yet when the road gets bumpy has trouble maintaining contact with pavement due to an overly rigid chassis, Avalon customers wouldn’t normally be associated with those seeking performance first and foremost. 

Fortunately, a byproduct inherent in the new 2019 Avalon is a much-improved chassis architecture shared with the equally improved Camry, albeit lengthened to the same proportions as the recently redesigned Lexus ES 350/300h, which is also a much better performer than its forebears. It’s a bit large and soft to be considered a sport sedan, but the Av can now credibly zig and zag alongside its comparative rival from Nissan, not to mention other full-size front-drivers like the Kia Cadenza, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Taurus. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon provides plenty of swoopy curves, sharp angles, and duct-like orifices. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

This said it’s no challenger to now premium mid-size models like the Genesis G80, a model that previously wore the Genesis nameplate under the Hyundai brand, while it’s also no match for a fully equipped Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, which are also the sales leaders in this class. 

This brings up what may be an interesting question: With sales of large sedans falling off the proverbial cliff, and various models within this segment being accordingly axed to make way for crossover SUV replacements, or so we’re told, why has Toyota, with some of the lowest sales in this class, chosen to completely redesign the Avalon? The answer may have little to do with the Av itself, and more to do with the aforementioned Lexus ES 350 it shares production space with. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The base XSE gets these gorgeous 19-inch alloys, while the top-line Limited makes do with smaller 18s. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The ES is one of Lexus’ more popular cars with U.S. sales of 48,482 units last year and 1,808 sold over the same 12 months in Canada, which when added to 33,580 Avalons purchased south of the 49th and 626 bought here (the latter number representing year-over-year growth of 41.0 percent), combines for 84,496 units. While a reasonable argument can be made for keeping the ES within Lexus’ lineup, especially when considering it’s also sold elsewhere, but the Avalon hardly seems like a worthwhile venture. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Here’s a closer look at the anything but subtle rear deck lid and taillight. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

To put it in perspective, Ford just cancelled its full-size Taurus that found 40,341 U.S. and 2,812 Canadian buyers last year, a car that shares underpinnings with the Lincoln Continental that will also be discontinued despite 8,758 U.S. and 438 Canadian sales (which is nowhere near least popular in either market), while General Motors just announced the cancelation of its fraternally twinned Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse, the former growing its numbers by a shocking 26.8 percent to 3,903 units in Canada, thus beating the aforementioned Chrysler 300 to second place behind the Dodge Charger (LaCrosse sales were down 27.9 percent). The Impala was already in second in the U.S. with 56,557 deliveries in calendar year 2018, making it a much bigger seller than the Avalon, yet it’ll soon go the way of the dodo while Toyota’s large car entry soldiers on. Even the afterthought Buick sells stronger than the Avalon in Canada, managing 664 units last year, although its 15,527 U.S. total will mean that few will miss it south of the border. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Does the new Avalon’s interior measure up to its near-premium peers? Come back for our full review to find out what we think. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Other large mid-size models will soon be sent to the chopping block too, including Chevy’s Malibu (with 6,822 unit sales in 2018), Ford’s Fusion (with 6,350 units) and Lincoln’s MKZ (833 units) (somehow Buick’s Regal, that sold just 799 examples last year, was saved), whereas near full-size mainstream models that (like the Avalon) find fewer buyers, such as the Maxima that saw a sales decline of 38.6-percent for 1,357 units last year, or the Kia Cadenza that lost 33.1 percent for a near nonexistent 83 deliveries throughout all of 2018, are continuing on. It seems nonsensical to those on the outside of such decision-making boardrooms, but each automaker has its reasoning and, to make a short story long, the renewed Avalon will continue to exist in a market segment that’s saying goodbye to the Impala, LaCrosse and Taurus. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The new Avalon’s interior design is tastefully eye-catching. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As it is the redesigned Avalon offers a lot to traditional mid-size sedan buyers that want to step up into a larger, more luxuriously appointed car. Upwardly mobile Camry buyers seem like the obvious target market, the larger Toyota measuring 100 millimetres (4.0 inches) more from nose to tail, with a 50-mm (2.0-in) longer wheelbase, while it’s also 10 mm (0.4 in) wider than the more affordable sedan, albeit fractionally lower by the same 10 mm (0.4 in) measure. 

This said the new 2019 Avalon is larger than the already sizeable outgoing version, its overall length having grown by 20 millimetres (0.8 inches) to 4,980 mm (196.0 in) and wheelbase by 50 mm (2.0 in) to 2,870 mm (113.0 in), while it’s now 15 mm (0.6 inches) wider at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), but following a trend is now 20 mm (0.8 inches) lower overall at just 1,440 mm (56.5 in), resulting in a leaner more athletic look. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Could anything possibly be missing from this $40k-plus Avalon? Come back and we’ll tell you why were were a bit miffed. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The new Av backs up its sportier styling with more oomph under the hood, its massaged 3.5-litre V6 now outputting 10 more horsepower and 17 additional lb-ft of torque for 278 of the former and 265 of the latter, while in XSE trim this newfound performance is complemented by an “Engine Sound Generator” enhanced exhaust note that gets artificially amped up when Sport mode is switched on. What’s more, the entirely new eight-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT like one of the Avalon’s supposedly sportier competitors) that replaces the old six-speed unit even comes standard with (wait for it) paddle shifters. Yes, Toyota truly is trying to upset the mainstream volume-brand luxury car applecart, but it gets better still. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The 7-inch colour TFT multi-info display comes standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Underpinning the new Avalon is an extended version of the stiffer, more agile chassis that improved the most recent Camry, and likewise makes the new Lexus ES 350/300h more enjoyable to live with, the XSE’s front struts and rear multi-link setup even sport tuned and matched up to one-inch larger 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/40 all-seasons, my tester’s produced by Continental. 

The Avalon smartly picks up where the Camry leaves off, the latter retailing for $41,090 plus freight and fees in top-tier XLE V6 trim and the base Avalon XSE starting at $42,790 (see all 2019 Avalon trims, packages and option pricing, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands at CarCostCanada), but don’t expect to get all of the fully loaded Camry’s features in base Avalon form. I won’t detail out my disappointments in this abbreviated garage preview, but will instead go over a few highlights starting with a standard gauge cluster featuring a 7.0-inch digital multi-information display wedged between two analogue dials, which intelligently doubles up route guidance instructions in this easier to view location when the navigation system is in play, amongst numerous other functions. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
The floating centre stack and 9-inch infotainment touchscreen is mostly impressive. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Atop the redesigned centre stack is a large 9.0-inch touchscreen featuring Toyota’s Entune infotainment interface as standard equipment that, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, lets you connect to functions, music and info such as traffic conditions, fuel stations, weather forecasts, stocks and more via a variety of apps such as Scout GPS Link, Yelp, Slacker, NPR One and more through your smartphone. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
A new 8-speed auto? We’ll let you know how it performs in our upcoming road test review. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

iPhone users will appreciate that Apple CarPlay also comes standard (but there’s no Android Auto), as does a wireless smartphone charger, SMS/text- and email-to-speech functions, advanced voice recognition, a 14-speaker 1,200-watt JBL surround sound audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, four USB charging ports, and more, while Entune Safety Connect provides automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, an emergency assistance (SOS) button, and enhanced roadside assistance. 

2019 Toyota Avalon XSE
Is that ultrasuede on the leather seats? The Avalon is certainly sportier than it used to be. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Some other noteworthy standard features include LED headlamps, LED taillights, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, six-way powered front passenger’s seat, heatable front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, and dual-zone automatic climate control, while standard advanced driver assistance and safety systems include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and more. 

As noted, I won’t mention any negatives in this garage preview, and of course I won’t be going into any detail about the new Avalon XSE’s driving characteristics, interior refinements, creature comforts, etcetera, so make sure to come back to find out why I had reason to grumble when climbing into my test model each and every morning during my cold January test week…