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2019 Full-Size Car of the Year: Avalon, Impala or Cadenza?

Auto123.com will be crowning winners of the 2019 Auto123.com Awards for best vehicles of the year on November 21 in Toronto. We’ve already unveiled the three finalists in each of the 19 categories; today we look in more detail at the Full-Size Car of the Year finalists.

Toyota Avalon
2018 specifications2019 specificationsphoto gallery

The Toyota Avalon is surprisingly stylish and delivers enough power via its 3.5L V6 engine to satisfy the expectations of motorists who want a highway cruiser that can deliver positive driving dynamics. In many ways, this car is a slightly oversized Camry, with more refinement and more equipment. And that’s not a bad thing to be at all.

It may not be the most fashionable choice in this age of SUVs big and small, and even among sedans it doesn’t have the cache of a sleek sportback or four-door performance coupe. But the 2019 Avalon that we drove delivers an awesomely comfortable ride, strong acceleration from the 301-hp engine and responsive handling, and of course there’s that legendary Toyota reliability. The trunk is suitably cavernous for a car in this class, and the second row is quite roomy.

As good Canadians, we would like to see Toyota offer all-wheel drive on the Avalon. As well, if Toyota as is serious as they seem to be about making their vehicles more exciting, the company could apply some pizzazz to their big sedan: the design both interior and exterior could use a little more daring, we found.

Toyota Avalon
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Toyota Avalon

Chevrolet Impala
Specifications

Another car that seems a bit at odds with the times, the Impala is roomy, smooth-riding and supplied with decent power from the available V6 engine (the default engine is a more-fuel-efficient 4-cylinder, in case you’re wanting to hold down expenses at the pump).

While the current generation of the Impala is now on its fourth year, Chevrolet has updated it every year, so the 2018 edition offers pretty much all the tech, drive assist and safety features you’d expect (though the Avalon has a few as standard features that are only optional on the Impala).

Chevrolet Impala
Photo: Chevrolet
Chevrolet Impala

Kia Cadenza

Kia’s big sedan has less of a public profile than the two models it’s competing with here, in fact among large sedans it may be the quietest of all in terms of consumer recognition. But as is the case with so many Korean-made vehicles the past few years it offers equal if not better value than any vehicle in its class.

The finishing in the roomy cabin is of consistently high quality, and the car provides a suitable smooth and comfortable ride. A wide range of advanced tech, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as included as standard equipment.

Some caveats involve the acceleration and the braking, both of which leave something to be desired. Arguably, the Cadenza could also do with a little more daring approach to the exterior design – although, the fact remains that, like its two rivals in this category, the Cadenza’s main focus is to serve as a proficient highway cruiser at a more reasonable price than you would get from a German automaker’s saloon, not turn heads through the addition of sporty styling elements.

Kia Cadenza
Photo: Kia
Kia Cadenza