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2019 Toyota Avalon. Photo: Toyota

This week I'm driving the 2019 Toyota Avalon, the fifth generation of Toyota's flagship sedan. With aggressive new styling, a roomy interior and a big 10-inch infotainment screen, it looks and feels as upscale as its premium cousin, the Lexus ES.

The car is packed with advanced driver-assist technology. Standard features include blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning system that guides you back to center, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert.

  • For $1,150 extra, you can add an advanced safety package that includes a birds-eye camera system with sonar parking sensors and rear cross-traffic braking support.

What's next: Toyota has a different approach to future autonomy than most. It's pursuing two modes: "chauffeur" and "guardian."

  • Chauffeur is exactly what you think: full self-driving capability (think levels 4 and 5 under SAE autonomy definitions.)
  • Guardian would employ the same sensing technology to assess whether the driver is about to make a dangerous mistake and intervene if necessary. Think of Guardian as a friendly backseat driver.
"Imagine going through an intersection and you're going to get T-boned — the right thing for the car to do is accelerate you out of it."
— Ryan Eustice, VP of autonomous driving at Toyota Research Institute, tells Business Insider

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.