Monthly Archives: March 2020

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD

It’s hard not to like a Toyota product and the 2020 Avalon is no exception. Although for years it was a rather drab high-end sedan. Let’s face it, as popular as the Camry has always been, it too, wasn’t an eye-catcher. However, those days are long gone and both Toyota sedans are stylish and attractive.

Unveiled at the LA Auto Show, the 2020 Avalon touted its 3.5-liter V6, with 301 horsepower, and mileage at 22/32. Zero-to-60 in less than six seconds.

We liked the pickup and exhaust sounds when putting the pedal to the metal. There is a thrill one gets when driving a sporty car. The Avalon’s exhaust music can’t rival a Corvette, but then we’re talking about a whole different class of automobile. The 9-speed transmission is very smooth and effortless.

The Avalon has a beautiful, up-grade interior, plushy seating and every extra you’d want. The question maybe become, however, when Toyota offers a choice of the Camry TRD; equally attractive and sporty, yet quite a bit less ($12,000), isn’t the Camry enough. Word has it both Camry and Avalon will be 4-cylinder and offer AWD.

The Avalon’s seats, although ample, didn’t fit this writer well. Perhaps they cater to a larger frame. We found them too large and couldn’t quit get the seat where it was comfortable. Either it was too high and/or too far back to reach the pedals satisfactorily. This isn’t a fault as others may find the seats just right.

Our test 2020 Avalon came in Supersonic Red with the Matte Black alloy wheels. Sharp. Beige Leather for the interior made a great combination, very classy and up-scale. Toyota offers some very attractive exterior colors for 2020, including the Opulent Amber, Harbor Gray Metallic, and Ruby Flare Pearl.

Models available include the XLE ($35,875); Hybrid XLE ($37,000); XSE ($38,375); Hybrid XSE ($39,500); TRD ($42,375); and Touring ($42.575). Our TRD Model topped out at $45,384 with some optional equipment including Premium Audio with JBL Clarl-FI Dynamic Navigation and APP Suite. Including 4 speakers including Subwoofer and 1200W amplifier ,9-inch touch screen ($1,760), and Illuminated door sills ($379).

As is the case with most full-size sedans, the ride is comfortable, fitted with a large back seat and plenty of legroom. Trunk size (16 cu. Ft. of cargo space) is also generous and can accommodate 3-4 pieces of luggage, among other goodies. It’s the perfect car for a roadtrip.  I remember the road trips in my father’s 1996 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. The car Hoovies Garage (U Tube) has named the “Best Kept Secret of AARP members,” and the “Most Affordable Car for Broke Millennials.” For $2000-$3000 you can pick up one of these Park’s, which offers such neat features as the license plate slot through the trunk.

However, back to the desirable features of the 2020 Avalon-its upscale cabin, with quality materials, smooth handling and easily gliding powertrains and transmissions. Toyota offers many standard features, including the drive-assistance technology, standard rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning system, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking-all standard, and available rear-cross-traffic braking.

Redesigned in 2019, there are few changes for 2020. However, Toyota has added the TRD trim level, our press car for the week. From Toyota’s performance division, the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) edition is sportier-outwardly and inwardly. We preferred it, though don’t think it’s true competition for the likes of sportier sedans. Upgrades include a sport-tuned suspension, red-painted brake calipers (loved this) and black-painted side skirts. The XLE trim level comes with heated power-adjustable side mirrors, LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, of course heated front seats (and cooled). The auto-dimming rearview mirror and tilt/telescoping steering column are also standard.

The sound system is better than some and has the up-to-date technology, including Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM satellite radio, driver assistance-listed above (blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise).

It’s been some time since we’ve tested an Avalon and the TRD was definitely a fun experience. At $45,000, not sure if it would be a first pick, but it’s been around since 2005, so assume it has an audience. Avalon U.S. sales for 2018 were just under 26,000.

From what was considered by some as a drab, not very handsome full-size sedan, the Avalon finally has something to shout about, particularly in the TRD edition. Boring would probably have been the right adjective in the past, but the 2020 version has come into its own.

While pricing isn’t affordable for many shoppers, those who would be interested in the Avalon can probably justify it. We’re not sure what leasing numbers are like, and/or if this is a car that falls into that category.


Pricing: $42,300; total vehicle price $45, 384; delivery $955

Engine: DOHC 3.5-liter, V-6, 301 hp.,

Transmission: 9-speed

Wheels: 19-inch dark gray/black painted machine-finish alloy

Tires: P235/40R19; all-season temp spare

Height: 55.9 in.

Length: 195.9 in.

Weight:3,638 lbs.

Width: 72.8 in.

Wheelbase: 113.0 in.

Fuel Tank: 15.8 gal.

Crash test scores: Perfect 5 out of 5 (NHTSA)

Seating: 5

Warranty: Basic: 36 mth./36,000-miles,Powertrain: 60 mths/60,000 miles; Corrosion Perforation: 60 mths w/unlimited miles.

2020 Mazda6 Signature Sedan

The Mazda6 is more than an ordinary mid-size family sedan, but then Mazda is more than the “usual” Japanese auto manufacturer. Founded in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., was renamed Mazda in 1984. Known for development of and use of the Wankel engine, they are best known for their iconic sportster, the MX-5, Miata.

It would appear that Mazda is deliberate about the vehicles they create and sell; not going overboard like some auto manufacturers who feel they have to represent each category of automobile. Instead, Mazda introduces new models methodically, and with great thought.

Our week in the new 2020 Mazda6 Signature sedan was pleasurable, for many reasons. One, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads so we could drive it, as intended. This is a fun-to-drive sedan. With its attractive body and classy interior, one gets a lot for his/her money.

As someone who still prefers a sedan to the SUV ad nauseum, the Mazda6 sits high on our list. My daily driver is a 2016 Nissan Maxima with a sporty vibe and 300 horsepower which is hard to beat, but the Mazda6 is so comfortable. Not every family with kids needs a minivan or SUV. Something like the new Mazda6 accommodates well and offers plenty of backseat room.

Based somewhat on Mazda’s 2010 Concept car, the Shinari ( a knockout), the Mazda6 is a stunner. Especially if you choose just the right color. In our case, the Soul Red Crystal Metallic-really stands out. The blue they chose for the concept Shinari was a beauty, too. Both make this sedan desirable. Our test vehicle came with ivory/white nappa leather trimmed sport seats.

Their selling model differs a little from the ordinary by allowing buyers to select a higher trim level and add the features they desire. Maybe the Mazda6 won’t compete with sedans that offer the latest up-to-date features, but it satisfies on most levels. After all, most drivers out there are not auto freaks. And although I am, this is a reasonable purchase. Some may wince as they discover the price of adding some extras.The Touring Reserve model offers the best value including the turbo. Also included are the 11-speaker premium audio, Sirius XM satellite radio. Paddler shifters and vented disc front brakes.

Changes to the 2020 Mazda6 are few, including a trunk lid badge and new key fob for the Signature model. Redesigned three times in the past 6 years, the Signature trim level also gets special badging. Our Signature features leather interior, real wood trim and several extras exclusive to this model.

The engine carries over from 2018, adding a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder. While we appreciate the turbo boost, it still sounds like a 4-banger and doesn’t have the growl we might wish for. There are five models, including the Sport ($24,920), Touring ($27,520), Grand Touring ($30,620), Grand Touring Reserve ($33,120 and the Signature ($36,220).

Our test Signature model came with special badging for 2020, a 360-degree camera with front/rear parking sensors, nav with traffic sign recognition and nappa leather with Japanese sen wood accents. Nice!

No shortage of space in the Mazda6. The trunk is ample, accommodating lots of bags, luggage.  One feels as though she is driving a substantial car. In need of more space? Release the handles and lay down the back seats for carrying long objects; even a bicycle.

Ranking near the top of the midsize car class, the Mazda6 offers spirited performance, great looks and a luxury feel. For those so inclined, there is no hybrid or plug-in available at this time. Two engine choices are available and include the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 187 hp., and the optional turbocharged engine that generates up to 250 hp. Six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Mazda revealed an AWD version and 2.2-liter turbo-diesel will be coming to the U.S. market.

The 2020 Mazda6 is a nice-looking sedan and fun to drive. All six models come with driver assistance features, including blind-spot monitoring, low-speed forward collision warning, automated emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

We did not try out the paddle shifters. Mazda Connect touchscreen infotainment, although nice takes some time getting used to. It took this writer a bit more time to get command of the GPS system.

Mazda’s infotainment system is competitive, yet, the buttons are a pain to operate. The screen is nicely positioned on the dash, tucked right in as not to be in the way. The center console is ample and actually holds any number of goodies.

Safety and driver-assistance features include standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and available lane departure warning with lane-keep assist. Earning a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA speaks well for the Mazda6, as well as being named a Top Safety Pick.

If you’re still into sedans-like this writer-the Mazda6 should be a definite choice on your list. We think you’ll agree when you drive it, it hits a lot of the buttons.


Pricing: $35,300 MSRP, Total vehicle price $36,915

Engine: 2.5-liter inline 4, turbocharged, hp 227, 310 lb-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed, automatic, sky-active drive, front-wheel-drive,

Wheels: 19-inch alloy, gun metallic finish

Fuel economy: 26/35 mpg.

Weight: 3,437 lbs.

Brakes: 4-wheel disc

Wheelbase: 111.4 in.

Length: 192.7 in.

Width: 72.4 in.

Height: 57.1 in.

Fuel tank capacity: 16.4 gal.

Tires: 19-inch P225/45 R19 all-season

Pricing: $24,100-$35,400

Warranty: Limited, covers 3 yrs/36,000-miles; powertrain5 yrs/60,000-miles; no complimentary scheduled maintenance.