Large sedans are going the way of the dinosaur. But shoppers who still want a full-size sedan will find a lot to like about the 2020 Toyota Avalon. It has many standard and available features, a smooth ride, and a roomy and upscale cabin that may make you think you’re driving a Lexus.
It used to be that when you thought of the Avalon and its smaller sibling, the Camry, the words vanilla, boring and bland came to mind. No more—both are now much more enjoyable to drive and—dare we say it—both boast lively handling!
The Avalon got a makeover for 2019. For 2020, Toyota adds a more performance oriented TRD model to the line-up that has more aggressive exterior styling, a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes and some special interior design touches including the TRD logo on the front headrests.
The five-passenger Avalon is available in five trims: XLE, XSE, TRD, Touring and Limited. Starting prices range from $35,875 to $42,575; these are higher than many competitors. Front-wheel-drive is standard.
There’s one powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s plenty of oomph and the eight-speed shifts smoothly, quickly finding the right gear. While the Avalon is pleasant to drive around town, it really shines as a highway cruiser with its brisk and smooth acceleration. The ride is very comfortable; bumps and rough roads are barely noticeable, even in the TRD trim with its stiffer suspension.
Fuel efficiency is good for a large sedan. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for a combined rating of 25. I got 25 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cavernous interior has lots of leg- and headroom for taller adults—in fact, the backseat has an impressive 40 inches of legroom! Seats are supportive and comfortable even on long drives. The cabin is attractively finished with upscale and soft-touch materials and can rival what you’d find in Toyota’s upmarket brand, Lexus.
Even the base trim comes with a long list of standard features including proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, nine-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, four USB ports, eight-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD radio, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Standard driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with brake assist, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and rear cross traffic alert.
Available features include navigation, 14-speaker JBL audio system, leather seating moonroof, surround-view parking camera system, and head-up display.
Available driver assistance technologies include front and rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic braking.
The Entune infotainment system is easy to use and reach; however sometimes it takes an extra moment or two to respond. Menus make sense and buttons and knobs control many commonly used audio and climate functions. Unfortunately, the optional navigation system looks like it’s from several years ago with its old school graphics (2015 called and wanted the navigation system back!). And Android Auto is still not available in the Avalon, although Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are now standard.
Trunk space is about average for a large sedan with 16.1 cubic feet. The rear seats fold 60/40 providing flexibility to carry large and/or bulky items.
User-friendly infotainment system
Plenty of smooth power
Cavernous and comfortable interior
Upscale fit and finish
Lots of standard and available features
Higher starting price than many competitors
Optional navigation has dated graphics
Android Auto not available
My tester starts at $42,300. Premium 14-speaker JBL audio system and amplifier, navigation and App suite are $1,760. Door edge guard is $140. Protection Package is $657. Wheel locks are $80. Delivery fee is $955 bringing the grand total to $45,892.
Shoppers wanting a large sedan have fewer choices these days but the Toyota Avalon remains a strong contender. It’s pleasant to drive, comfortable, has an upscale and roomy interior and a ton of features and driver assistance technologies.