The Toyota Avalon was all-new for the 2019 model year and as a result, the 2020 Toyota Avalon is largely a carryover, save for the addition of a new performance-oriented TRD model. As part of its 2019 redesign, the Avalon shifted over to Toyota’s future-proofed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which now underpins everything from the new 2020 Corolla to the upcoming 2020 Highlander, which is also all-new. While SUVs look to be the future, sedans still represent around 30% of all new car sales here in the U.S., and as such, Toyota isn’t quite ready to give up on them just yet, and the Avalon is arguably the strongest competitor in this shrinking, but not yet insignificant segment.
What’s New for 2020?
After being fully redesigned for 2019, the 2020 Toyota Avalon carries over pretty much unchanged, except for the addition of a new TRD trim that builds off of the XSE model with unique styling, TRD-tuned coil springs, shocks and underbody bracing, and a TRD cat-back dual exhaust. See the 2020 Toyota Avalon models for sale near you
What We Like
- Hybrid versions cost just $1,050 more
- Standard Toyota Safety Sense
- Spacious cabin
- High-quality interior materials
- Available head-up display
What We Don’t
- Still no Android Auto
- All-wheel drive (AWD) would be a welcomed addition
- For how much longer will this segment exist?
The 2020 Avalon is available in four gas-powered trims, three of which are available in hybrid form as well. The gas engine is a 3.5-liter V6 making 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Avalon Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with a small battery for a total of 215 hp. In the hybrid, an electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with sequential shift capability sends power to the front wheels.
Naturally, while the V6 makes more power, the hybrid powertrain returns significantly better fuel economy. V6-equipped Avalons deliver an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving, although oddly, the base-model XLE is rated at 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. The Avalon Hybrid returns 43 mpg overall — a downright impressive figure for a spacious and comfortable sedan.
Standard Features & Options
Aside from the unique powertrain, the hybrid versions of the Avalon XLE, XSE and Limited trims are about the same as their gasoline-powered counterparts with regard to features and content. Prices listed are for nonhybrid variants — tack on another $1,050 for the hybrid drivetrain.
Every 2020 Toyota Avalon, including the base-level XLE model ($36,755), comes nicely equipped with LED lighting, heated manual outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 17-in painted alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way adjustable front heated seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, autodimming rearview mirrors, a 7-in multi-information display, a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, power door locks, Bluetooth connectivity, 10 airbags, an 8-speaker Entune 3.0 audio system with a 9-in touchscreen, satellite radio capability, Siri Eyes Free, an available Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay. Also standard is Toyota Safety Sense with a precollision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and full speed range adaptive cruise control. Available options include a power moonroof package with Qi wireless charging and an upgraded 14-speaker JBL audio system.
Building on the XLE is the XSE ($39,255), which adds power outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, 19-in alloy wheels, a power moonroof, Qi wireless charging, genuine aluminum interior accents and front seats with suede inserts and aluminum pedal covers. An optional premium audio package adds the 14-speaker JBL audio system, navigation and an active noise control feature that includes augmented engine noises that are pumped into the cabin.
New for the 2020 model year is the Avalon TRD ($43,255). Building on the already-sporty XSE trim, the V6-only Avalon TRD comes with 19-in matte black TRD wheels, a piano black front splitter, side skirts and a rear diffuser with red accents, a unique black-colored rear spoiler, TRD-tuned coil springs, shock absorbers and structural bracing, red brake calipers, larger 12.9-in front brake discs, Ultrasuede seat inserts with red seat stitching and TRD logos embroidered into the headrests, and a throatier TRD cat-back exhaust system. While it makes no changes to the Avalon’s 6-cylinder powertrain, the Avalon TRD should offer considerably improved handling characteristics, not to mention a slightly more exciting driving experience overall, given the added styling elements and enhanced exhaust.
The Avalon Touring ($43,455) is another V6-only trim that adds active noise control, engine sound enhancement and an adaptive suspension system offering four different driving modes. The only option is the Advanced Safety Package, which includes a 360-degree camera and a sonar system with rear cross-traffic braking.
While it carries a base price below that of both the Avalon TRD and Touring models, the Limited trim ($43,055) is positioned at the top of the Avalon hierarchy and stands as the most luxurious Avalon. The Limited comes with progressive turn signals, 18-in chrome alloy wheels, genuine wood interior accents, ambient interior lighting, a 10-in head-up display, leather seating, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and the otherwise optional upgraded Entune 3.0 Premium JBL audio system with 14 speakers and navigation. As with the Touring, the only available option on the Limited is the $1,150 Advanced Safety Package.
The current-generation Avalon earns a prestigious Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), achieving top marks in all major crash test categories.
Every Avalon comes with 10 airbags and the usual passive safety features like anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control. Blind spot monitoring also comes standard. Likewise, Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of active safety features comes standard on every Avalon and includes a precollision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. An Advanced Safety Package available on Limited and Touring trims adds a 360-degree bird’s-eye-view camera and intelligent sonar with rear cross-traffic mitigation.
Behind the Wheel
Most people climbing behind the wheel of a big sedan like the Avalon are looking for a smooth and comfortable ride above all else, and the Avalon doesn’t disappoint. In basic, nonhybrid guise, the V6 and 8-speed transmission allow for some urgency when prompted, but otherwise things are pretty much smooth sailing. Autotrader’s Rob Nestora says, “The Avalon is incredibly smooth and luxurious, so much so that it’s hard to differentiate much from its Lexus ES sibling. Other than a few minor advantages, the Avalon is definitely the smart value choice between the two.” Handling is reasonably dialed-in, especially with the optional adaptive suspension system, and the steering is responsive, but again, most iterations of the Avalon are meant for drivers prioritizing comfort above all else.
We say most iterations because we’ve yet to account for the new TRD trim, which trades some of that comfort and serenity for a slightly more raucous experience via a stiffer suspension thanks to performance-tuned coil-sprung shocks, more underbody bracing, larger 12.9-in front disc brakes, 19-in wheels and a TRD cat-back dual exhaust system. Overall, the TRD is an interesting proposition, and while we’ve yet to test it, we look forward to getting some time behind the wheel.
The Avalon Hybrid on the other hand trades power for efficiency. It’s arguably even more comfortable than the regular Avalon, thanks in part to the smooth acceleration allowed for by its battery-assisted powertrain. On the other hand, it’s a little heavier and a little more lethargic, but it’s impressive fuel economy should still be a major selling point.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Nissan Maxima — While the Maxima has long been a staple in Nissan’s lineup, the newly redesigned Altima deems it somewhat irrelevant. Still, like the Avalon, the Maxima offers a potent V6 engine and lots of space. While it places a higher priority on sportiness than the Avalon and offers standard Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay, the more modern Avalon is likely the more compelling option heading into 2020.
2020 Lexus ES — While the ES had previously been based on the Camry, it moved over to bigger the Avalon platform as part of a 2013 redesign. Perhaps surprisingly, the more luxurious, more expensive ES offers identical powertrain options to the Avalon, and like the new Avalon TRD, comes in a sportier trim in the form of the EX 350 F-Sport.
2020 Chevrolet Impala — Like the Avalon, the Impala is another big, front-wheel drive (FWD), V6-powered, semiluxurious sedan. General Motors has announced that the Impala will go out of production after the 2020 model year, and as the current model has been on sale largely unchanged since 2014, buyers are likely to find a good deal on examples currently sitting on dealer lots.
2019 Buick LaCrosse — The LaCrosse ended production after the 2019 model year, but buyers interested in a big comfortable sedan should still be able to find some sitting on dealer lots, likely at a big discount. As it shares its underpinnings with the Impala, the Buick LaCrosse is a somewhat premium take on Chevrolet’s big midsize sedan.
In an age where big, comfortable FWD sedans are a dying breed, the recently redesigned Avalon makes its case as one of the last remaining holdouts. It justifies its existence alongside the more mainstream Camry by offering more space, more comfort, and an overall more upscale experience. While the V6 engine offers plenty of power, the Avalon Hybrid returns seriously impressive fuel economy — something that typically can’t be said for a big sedan. While the newly introduced TRD model gives the Avalon newfound sporting characteristics, we’d probably opt for the Hybrid in XSE guise, as its blending of a sport suspension with excellent fuel economy figures are a compelling proposition. Find a Toyota Avalon for sale