By on April 8, 2020

There’s comfort in a big sedan, both literally and figuratively. The familiarity of a stretch-em-out interior and ability to chew up the miles like candy is like a rejuvenate tonic for those of us who enjoy large cars. Sure, hot hatches are a great bit of fun, but full-size whips are like shaking hands with an old friend.

The Toyota Avalon has been around for longer than you may think, showing up at the Chicago Auto Show in 1994 before going on sale later that same year as a 1995 model. Twenty-five years later, the model remains atop the Big T’s range of cars — and now includes a gonzo TRD version, for some reason. What does the entry-level trim bring? Let’s find out.

All trims of Avalon, save for the hybrid models, are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 making 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Spending more money to move up the food chain nets naught in terms of power. Point for the base car, then. These numbers compare well with other large cars in its rapidly shrinking segment, as the V6 Charger makes around the same amount of grunt — as did the just-departed Impala. An eight-speed automatic funnels all power through the front wheels.

That’s a big grille on the schnoz, so let’s offset it with some brown paint. Opulent Amber, shown here, is actually one of two brown options, a revelation sure to please members of the Brown Car Appreciation Society [link]. Flashy Ruby Red and Wind Chill, both pearl finishes, are the only two shades that cost extra. LED head- and taillights are standard on this base XLE.

A raft of active safety features are included, like pre-collision systems designed to sense when the car is about to mow down a pedestrian, along with the likes of lane keeping and dynamic radar cruise control.

Three different interior hues are available, none of them costing anything above and beyond the base price. Your author prefers the black Softex but understands if retirees in Scottsdale choose beige for heat retention reasons. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are heated seats and a tilt/telescope wheel. All the power windows are auto up/down, meaning all hands can hear the announcer at the drive-in bingo.

Four USB ports is an impressive showing, making up for the fact that wireless charging is an option. Perhaps Toyota knows their demographic better than I. The infotainment duties are taken care of by a large 9-inch touchscreen, a system that features Apple CarPlay plus satellite radio and eight speakers. This is the same standard system installed in other Avalon trims costing thousands more.

Will a base 2020 Avalon set anyone’s world on fire? Likely not. Is it very well-equipped and a great Ace of Base candidate? Comfortably.

[Images: Toyota]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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31 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Toyota Avalon XLE...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars.”

    Where?

  • avatar
    cprescott

    If this car had been on a lot in Florida recently, it would have come out looking better inside and out. Another hideous Toyoduh. Is that redundant?

  • avatar
    RideTheCliche

    First Ace of Base that doesn’t mention the car’s MSRP! Kind of important to know this isn’t it?

    $35,875 In case anyone was curious.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I bought a base XLE Avalon new in 2015. It has a little less grille and the interior is different. Great car. We went with the base XLE due to sunroof limiting head room in other variants. From a price standpoint, it made more sense to go with the base Avalon versus a loaded V6 Camry. The price delta was closer between the Camry and Avalon vs the Avalon and Lexus ES 350. The 2GR-FE engines are great and I expect to keep it for another 10 years with no issues.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Very good luxury car and excellent value, but that grill is a deal breaker for me. Great opportunity for aftermarket grill to cover up this gaping maw.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Very nice car. An aftermarket grille is a good idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Luxury Car?

      A bakelite delight for the geriatric age group. Soon to be discontinued to make room for more RAV4s.

    • 0 avatar
      someoldfool

      I have one of these, only the hybrid version. The gaping maw is truly awful. But you can’t see it from the driver’s seat, that’s a plus. My opulent amber is not the brown shown here. Mine has some red in it, and looks black unless the sun is bright. Much more of a deep bronze. It’s a big car, a bit narrower than the Chrylser C300 I had umpty-ump years ago, but almost as much interior space.

      And, the gaping maw, the camera angles are almost always shot from down low, right in the gaping maws face, so to speak. When you walk past an Avalon, you don’t notice it much, unless you’re looking for it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Toyota should offer a “monochrome” package like Ford did on the 1st gen Fusion that painted all the chrome bits the same color as the car. Then the grille would blend in.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Yup. These are one of the few cars a body kit would improve on in the front end. In stock form it sure comes with a big bucket of ugly. It is a shame too. My old boss had one and it was a pretty nice car.

    If one were given to me I would have to back it in the garage so I didn’t see the front end every time I got in.

    The front end is so ugly it makes Rodney Dangerfield look like George Clooney (adjusts tie).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    An Ace of Base I can agree with, although I’m sure I’d pop for the “tech package” or something to get the slightly better speakers the factory was offering.

    Sedans like this (big cars that could eat up the miles) used to be as common as kudzu in the south. I going to miss them when we reach the point that the only big sedans have the badges of the luxury brands on them.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    I think “Ace of Base” is TTAC code for “Vehicles that don’t sell worth a $#!t”

    Toyota should take this time to kill off a large number of slow selling models. So it’s dealer lots will look less like automotive museums.

  • avatar
    redapple

    cHRYSLER 300 is better for less.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I would likely choose a base 300 too–at about $25k. That said, we are lucky the automotive market is large enough to cater to wide and varied automotive tastes. That we like the 300 does not make the Avalon a bad option.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Art Deco trains want their grill back.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    This could be a top all around car honestly.

    Superb engine. Tons of space. Supremely comfortable. Reliable as heck.

    I’m getting old. Cars like this or the ES are starting to really appeal to me.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Toyota Canada is still trying to flog off 2019 Avalons on their website. There are only two models, but one has a “nicer” grille than this fleet special schnoz. The difference between models is real leather in the upscale one, for which you then lose a bunch of desirable options standard on the cheaper one. Quite bizarre and useless offerings. No wonder they don’t move. Well, that and it’s the age of the two-box lifted crapcars marketing twits call SUVs.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Toyota Canada is still trying to flog off 2019 Avalons on their website. There are only two models, but one has a “nicer” grille than this fleet special schnoz. The difference between models is real leather in the upscale one, for which you then lose a bunch of desirable options standard on the cheaper one. Quite bizarre and useless offerings. No wonder they don’t move. Well, that and it’s the age of the two-box lifted crapcars marketing twits call SUVs.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    The Toyota Avalon is the only Toyota I would buy. And, the AVALONR license plate in California is still available.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree the older I get the more appealing an Avalon is to me. A bought a neighbor’s low mileage 2012 LaCrosse E-assist for a very low price. A low mileage Avalon would be a good used car but even at 35k a base new Avalon is still not a bad deal. If I were buying new the 2020 Impala Premium trim would be the one I would buy.

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