2020 Toyota Avalon
2020 Toyota Avalon
Depending on the model, the front-wheel-drive 2020 Toyota Avalon sedan can be relaxed for road trips, thrifty for commuting, or sporty for winding roads.
The base V-6 makes 301 horsepower and moves the Avalon well, but it’s relatively thirsty compared to the 215-hp hybrid and its 43-mpg rating. The new Avalon TRD has a firmer ride but remains a big luxury car with a luxuriant ride.
That size means more cabin room; five adults are comfortable inside. Not only that, the interior is Lexus-like.
The spacious and luxurious cabin brings a feeling of richness to families. And the whole car brings safety. Every 2020 Avalon comes standard with LED headlights and an active safety quiver including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, high-beam assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The base XLE is rated at 22 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined; other V-6 models with larger wheels get 22/31/25 mpg. The XLE Hybrid gets 44/43/44 mpg, while the other models get 43/43/43 mpg.
The NHTSA rated the big sedan at five stars overall, with four stars in the calculated rollover measurement and four stars for frontal crash test. The IIHS gave the Avalon its highest award, a Top Safety Pick+.
For around $37,000, the Avalon XLE comes with active safety gear, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility, five USB ports, power and heated front seats, and synthetic leather upholstery.
The Avalon Limited for around $42,000 comes with the plushest suspension settings and an interior draped in leather and wood. The touchscreen is complemented by a 7.0-inch display in the instrument cluster.
The Avalon Touring for about $44,000 comes with laser-cut headlights, JBL speakers, heated and cooled front seats swathed in synthetic leather and suede, and adaptive dampers.
An option package for Limited and Touring trims adds a surround-view camera system and rear cross-traffic braking.
The Hybrid in those models only costs about $1,000 more.
The 2020 Toyota Avalon is toned and muscular. The XLE and Limited are clean and cohesive.
The new Avalon TRD adds a functional aero kit, a feature we never expected to see on an Avalon.
Standard LED headlights shine over the grille, while the Touring’s laser-cut headlights sparkle. LED taillights make the rear look elegant.
The Avalon’s interior is daring, with hues that are far from ordinary–we love the Limited in Cognac. The synthetic leather on the XLE is convincing. The aluminum trim on XSE and Touring models looks pleasant. The available woodgrain trim is made by the musical instrument manufacturer Yamaha. It’s not quite a Lexus, but it’s close.
The bright 9.0-inch touchscreen is bright, although Toyota’s software can be menu-intensive. It includes Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility, but isn’t yet compatible with Android devices.
Supportive front seats with a wide array of adjustment offer comfort for long periods. They’re bolstered well enough for curvy roads. The rear seat has a good 40 inches of legroom, and the trunk has about 16 cubic feet of storage space.
The standard 3.5-liter V-6 churns out a healthy 301 horsepower, sent to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The acceleration is good, and the engine is muffled in most models. The XSE and TRD have a piped-in intake sound that spoils the mood.
The Hybrid uses 176-hp inline-4 teamed with an electric motor to make 215 total horsepower; it uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). It accelerates well around town but can be taxed on long hills or during passing. But you don’t get 43 mpg without giving up some performance.
The Avalon rides better on its softer suspension, which would be the XLE and Limited models. The XSE and Touring are stiff, and the TRD stiffer.
The Avalon uses an independent MacPherson strut in front and multi-link rear suspension. The Touring uses an active suspension that can be stiffened up at the tap of a button; it’s most radical setting, Sport+, might be too stiff for comfort.
The Avalon’s size and softness keep it from being easily thrown into corners, while the heft of its steering helps it feel somewhat entertaining.
This year’s new Avalon TRD builds on the XSE with 19-inch wheels and a louder exhaust. It makes all the right noises, but its stiffer setup conflicts with the Avalon we know and love.
The 2020 Toyota Avalon might be best enjoyed in the driveway, as its near-luxury cabin is the best part. But then the Hybrid drives you off and delivers you to 43 mpg. Every Avalon’s standard safety equipment list is a smorgasbord of LED headlights and taillights, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, high-beam assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection