2020 Toyota Avalon

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2020 Toyota Avalon Test Drive Review: Making The Family Sedan Cool Again

One day in 2017, Toyota president Akio Toyoda walked into the office and told his employees that they will build "no more boring cars." Well, it probably happened in an e-mail, but you get the idea. Since then, Toyota has been on a tear, releasing more interesting cars like the Corolla, Camry, Supra, and yes, even the new Avalon. For the first time ever, these cars were no longer beige appliances used by ordinary people to commute to work. They were actually fun to drive. There was just one thing missing - that extra cool factor.

The Toyota Avalon entered its fifth-generation for the 2019 model year, completely obliterating any preconceived notions you may have felt towards it beforehand. Once the official vehicle of Florida retirement communities, the Avalon is now a fun full-size alternative for buyers who want to shun the SUV craze. For 2020, Toyota has added a sporty TRD model to the Avalon range and we were sent one to test for the week.

Read in this review:

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2020 Toyota Avalon Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Avalon?

The Avalon has always been the Comfort-King among full-size sedans, but for 2020, Toyota has added some spice to the lineup with the new TRD model we find ourselves testing. Alongside the Camry TRD, the Avalon TRD is the first Toyota sedan to bear the TRD badge. Based on the TNGA-K sedan platform that underpins the Lexus ES, the Avalon retains its 301 horsepower V6 engine across the range, but the TRD version gets enhanced suspension for more lively handling, along with an assortment of exterior and interior styling cues to live up to the Toyota Racing Development nomenclature affixed to the new variant. There's also a TRD cat-back exhaust, helping that V6 sing a little louder. Aside from the TRD, the rest of the Avalon lineup soldiers on as-is for 2020 - it was fully redesigned for 2019, so it's still pretty fresh. While Toyota has announced an all-wheel-drive version of the Avalon in the US, it's unfortunately only arriving as a 2021 model towards the end of the current year.

Pros and Cons

  • Sips fuel, despite 301 hp on tap
  • Capacious trunk can swallow almost anything
  • Long list of standard features
  • Still the king of comfort
  • Spacious cabin with high-quality appointments
  • TRD's cat-back exhaust sounds great
  • High levels of standard safety
  • No all-wheel-drive until 2021
  • TRD's gearbox tuning isn't sporty
  • No additional power for the TRD model
  • Android Auto still missing from the infotainment suite
  • Base model's high price may scare away customers
  • The big grille is controversial

What's the Price of the 2020 Toyota Avalon?

While the Toyota Camry is generally seen as affordable among its peers, the starting price of the Toyota Avalon might scare some prospective buyers away, especially with a base price of $35,875 for the XLE trim, excluding the mandatory delivery and handling fee of $955. That's more than $10,000 more expensive than a base Camry. However, the Avalon is loaded with value, and as such, it's only a small step up to the XSE with an MSRP of $38.375. The Limited breaks the 40k barrier at $42,175, while getting behind the wheel of the Toyota Avalon TRD will cost just $42,375. A top-of-the-range Touring model will ask just $200 more at $42,575 - placing it on par with similar range-toppers from rival brands.

Best Deals on 2020 Toyota Avalon

2020 Toyota Avalon Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Hybrid XLE
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Hybrid XSE
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Toyota Avalon Trims and Specs

2020 Avalon Exterior

2020 Toyota Avalon Front View CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Front Angle View CarBuzz
See All 2020 Toyota Avalon Exterior Photos


  • Length 195.9 in
  • Wheelbase 113.0 in
  • Height 56.5 in
  • Max Width 72.8 in
  • Front Width 63.0 in
  • Rear Width 63.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,560.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Celestial Silver Metallic
  • Harbor Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Opulent Amber
  • Wind Chill Pearl
  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Brownstone, Build Out: 1/31/2020
  • Parisian Night Pearl, Build Out: 1/31/2020
  • Supersonic Red

2020 Avalon Performance

2020 Toyota Avalon Rear Angle View 1 CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Exhaust CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid, 3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    8-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain

Handling and Driving Impressions

We have driven the Avalon TRD back-to-back with the Touring model on an autocross course and for our money, the Touring trim is the better overall option. The TRD might be minutely sharper on the limit but both cars feel pretty large and heavy. The Touring trim benefits from Toyota's first-ever adaptive suspension, which manages the Avalon's weight through the corners while also offering a smoother ride over rough pavement. It also includes a Sport + mode, which is lacking on the TRD model.

No matter which Avalon you choose, you have to hop in with the right frame of mind. In the full-size sedan segment, the Dodge Charger and Kia Stinger eat the Avalon's lunch in regards to sporty feel but the Avalon is more pleasurable to drive than the Nissan Maxima and feels slightly more engaging than the Volkswagen Arteon. The steering is pretty direct on-center but starts to feel more vague off-center. Once you are on the move, the Avalon starts to feel less massive than it actually is. There are few sedans in this price range that feel as engaging as the Avalon, which is why we enjoy driving it so much.

2020 Avalon Interior

2020 Toyota Avalon Dashboard CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Infotainment System CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Front Seats CarBuzz
See All 2020 Toyota Avalon Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 42.1 in
  • Front Head Room 38.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.9 in

2020 Avalon Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Toyota Avalon Seat Folded CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Toyota Avalon Trunk Space 1 CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    16.1 ft³

2020 Avalon Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2020 Toyota Avalon A Good car?

Toyota will only build 2,600 examples of the Avalon TRD for 2020 compared to 6,000 examples of the Camry, meaning it is rarer than a Lamborghini Urus. If you put one of these in the driveway, it is almost guaranteed that you won't see another one in your neighborhood. In fact, we are quite sad that our Supersonic Red tester may be the last TRD Avalon we see for a while. For the sheer cool factor alone, it might be worth it to opt for the TRD but we think the more well-equipped Touring trim is still the one to get.

If you are in need of a large, comfortable family car but don't want an SUV, we implore you to at least consider the Avalon. Rewind to just a few years ago and we could never imagine ourselves recommending a Toyota Avalon sedan as the "cool" family option but with nearly everyone opting for a boring crossover these days, sedans have become the dark horse for people who still enjoy driving. This TRD Avalon may not be the sportiest sedan on the market right now, but we believe it is cooler than the vast majority of SUVs.

What Toyota Avalon Model Should I Buy?

With a starting price of $42,300, the Avalon TRD is just $500 less expensive than the Touring trim level. When you opt for the JBL package with navigation and the awesome shade of Supersonic Red, the TRD's price jumps to over $45,000 ($45,410 in the case of our tester). Instead, we'd opt for the Touring trim with the Advanced Safety Package for nearly the same price as our TRD tester. It may be a trade-off in rarity and you'll miss out on that awesome cat-back exhaust, but the Touring makes up for these losses with ventilated front seats, a 360-degree camera, adaptive suspension, and more, all for the same sort of money.

Check out other Toyota Avalon Styles

2020 Toyota Avalon Comparisons

Lexus ES Lexus
Toyota Camry CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota Avalon301 hp22/32 mpg$36,825
Lexus ES 302 hp22/32 mpg$40,950
Toyota Camry 203 hp28/39 mpg$26,320

2020 Toyota Avalon vs Lexus ES

When sister-brands share their toys, it's often worthwhile exploring if the premium brand can justify the extra cost associated with the badge. In the case of the mechanically identical (except for the one horsepower bonus on the Lexus) Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon, the Lexus-badged version asks an extra $4,000 over its Toyota counterpart. However, it justifies this immediately with an interior that's definitely the more upscale of the two, with soft leather instead of the cheaper materials found on the Avalon. That's essentially the main difference between the two, as they perform identically, sip the same amount of fuel, and both can be equipped with almost all the same features. So it comes down to this; if you're after a truly luxurious experience, you'll spend big on a top-spec Lexus ES with fancy Mark Levinson sound systems and the 12.3-inch infotainment display. But if like us, you're in search of a great deal, an Avalon Touring hits the sweet spot between luxury, performance, and value, saving several thousand dollars in the process.

See Lexus ES Review

2020 Toyota Avalon vs Toyota Camry

Many have questioned the Avalon's raison d'être when the stellar Camry is only marginally smaller, just as safe, and can be yours for $11,000 less in base guise. But the difference between the two Toyota sedans is all about their intended purposes. The Camry is the smaller, nimbler, and sharper-focused between the two, but it's also more budget-conscious, which is why it features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine sipping up to 29/41/34 mpg compared to the Avalon's 22/32/26 mpg from its 3.5-liter V6. But you can have the same engine in a Camry, at which point you're paying just $1,300 less than the Avalon. At this point, the Avalon carves a clear case for itself, with more equipment, more passenger space, a more upmarket interior and a trunk with an extra cubic foot of storage capacity. The Avalon is more comfortable, too, a lounge set on wheels by comparison, which makes it a compelling alternative. Truthfully, it's the better car, but if finances don't permit, the Camry won't feel like a cut-price alternative.

See Toyota Camry Review

2020 Toyota Avalon Video Reviews

Check out some informative Toyota Avalon video reviews below.

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