Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher
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.,
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.
Width: 72.8 in.
Wheelbase: 113.0 in.
Fuel Tank: 15.8 gal.
Crash test scores: Perfect 5 out of 5 (NHTSA)
Warranty: Basic: 36 mth./36,000-miles,Powertrain: 60 mths/60,000 miles; Corrosion Perforation: 60 mths w/unlimited miles.