By on June 17, 2020

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (301 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive

22 city / 31 highway / 25 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

10.9 city, 7.6 highway, 9.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $42,100 (U.S) / $48,450 (Canada)

As Tested: $44,818 (U.S.) / $48,450 (Canada)

Prices include $930 destination charge in the United States and $1,870 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

As I wrote in April, the Toyota Avalon has taken great strides in moving from being a snoozer to a touring sedan with a bit of spice up its sleeve.

That was in reference to the hybrid. Try the gas-engine Avalon for a truly transformed experience.

Much of the overall hybrid experience remains true in models carrying the gas-only powertrain – the Avalon is sportier and rides more stiffly, though it remains more of a highway cruiser than a true sports sedan – yet the trade-off of a bit more power for a bit less fuel economy livens the car up even more.

The 3.5-liter V6 adds over 100 lb-ft of torque over the hybrid, and while 267 lb-ft of torque isn’t a ton, it’s enough to make an appreciative difference. The hybrid has enough guts for merging successfully, so add 104 lb-ft, and the extra grunt won’t go unnoticed. All told, the power numbers are 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and the engine mates with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Avalon is front-wheel drive.

[Get new and used Toyota Avalon pricing here!]

Otherwise, it feels like the hybrid, just stiffened and tightened slightly for just a bit more of a sporty response. It’s not so stiffly sprung that it becomes a chore to pilot during commuting duty.

Others on staff have carped about misbehavior from the eight-speed transmission, but it was generally well-behaved during my time with the car.

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

Toyota has responded well to criticism of both the Avalon and the Camry as being “too soft.” The last Camry I drove was a well-balanced machine that gave up some fun-to-drive factor to its Honda and Mazda rivals, while this version of the Avalon also strikes a nice balance between comfort and enjoyable engagement.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the interior design, like many Toyota products these days, disappoints. While most touchpoints are class-appropriate, the infotainment switchgear feels cheap for a car priced in the mid-$40Ks, and the screen itself looks so outdated that if you have an iPhone, you’ll be racing to plug it in and launch Apple CarPlay ASAP. The center stack just looks tacky.

Comfort is no issue, at least, although the amount of passenger space felt a bit tight for such a large car. Cargo space is, predictably, not a concern.

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

Outside, the Avalon’s looks are far more aggressive than in years past, although not so much that the car won’t blend into traffic, even with its big, gaping maw of a grille.

Safety is taken care of, thanks to a standard suite of driver’s safety aids such as pre-collision with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

Other standard features included 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and DRLs, dual chrome exhaust tips, navigation, Bluetooth, premium audio, USB, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, heated and cooled front seats, wireless cell phone charging, and a head-up display.

Options included a safety package with sonar, 360-degree birds-eye-view camera, and rear cross-traffic braking, carpeted floor mats, and illuminated door sills.

2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

All told, the price tag was nearly $45K.

I still can’t figure out who the Avalon buyer is – not when the Camry is cheaper and doesn’t give up much in size, and when the Lexus ES is just a bit pricier and offers more luxury.

That said, those who do buy this vehicle will find a nice balance between comfort and sport, in a sleekly styled package that sheds the old-man stigma of before.

Toyota’s Avalon is finally a well-rounded large sedan. Just in time for crossovers to dominate the market.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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26 Comments on “2020 Toyota Avalon Unlimited Review – A Kick in the Gas...”


  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’ve driven this car’s cousin, the Lexus ES350 and was very impressed, this new/revised platform is a huge improvement in driving dynamics, it hardly feels FWD. There’s a place for a comfortable, competent cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Except for the 1st-gen ES250 my parents have purchased every version of the ES. I think their latest model is the worst of the bunch. On HNL’s surface-of-the-moon roads you can feel every little bump. The leather is worse, feeling a lot less supple. And the designers put the cheapest-feeling plastic where the window switches are… yuk. In close quarters the thing is so ponderous. And, it’s not a particularly quiet car, either. At least the “wood” isn’t so god-awful red like it was in one of the earlier cars.

      My sister inherited the ES this one replaced and she sold her older ES to one of my coworkers. I tell her she got the best of them, peak ES, where cost-cutting wasn’t a factor and before Akio-san decided Lexus needed to make “fun” cars.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I like the interior and I appreciate any car that makes an effort to integrate the infotainment screen into the dash instead of just sticking it out like an afterthought but that grill…….

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Is a G90 the only car on Earth that unapologetically doesn’t pursue sharp handling as a virtue?

    Why does anyone need a tightly sprung, aggressively styled Avalon for gods sake? Who was clamoring for that?

    • 0 avatar
      haroldhill

      Journalists. The real buyers will be sold by the spiffy two-tone steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The previous iterations of the Avalon, Camry and even the ES got dinged by reviewers for their “jittery” ride due to Toyota’s 1st attempt into making them sportier.

      Seem to have found a better balance in suspension tuning since then.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Avalon has morphed from a comfy mom’s car to a more aggressive dad’s car.

    More aggressive design, ditched floaty ride, TRD option, more engine noise, better interior design that takes some chances.

    I like it. I know my wife would not.

    It’s too expensive for what it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It was more your parents’ car, easy to get into and out of, with predictable, sedate driving characteristics, and reliably low maintenance. That sloping roofline over the rear doors means your parents can’t get your grandparents into the back seat anymore, and the taut suspension and touchy gas pedal won’t do much for any of them.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Savage Geese on YouTube said there was too tall of a 2nd gear that would not shift down into first when it should. Maybe it they don’t allow it to down shift because of Toyota sudden acceleration?

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Lorenzo is right on the money. I would add that the Avalon was your grandparents’ car after they became desilusioned with Cadillac and Buick. But now Toyota is abandoning the grandparents sector and is trying to move into the parents sector. I am solidly in the parents sector and I hate the lower stance, the sit on the floor feel. That’s ok for a Corolla and may be a Camry but definitely not for an Avalon.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @jkross – as the “Straight Pipes” on YouTube like to say – “Dad Fast”

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      They used to be the old man’s car. They still are, just the old man is a different generation now. The old generation wanted the 70’s Buick ride. The current old man generation doesn’t like the floating boat ride so much.

      That front end, along with the rest of the Toyota cars, looks like someone had corrupt data on the file when they passed it to production. This is a car begging for a car bra, or aftermarket boy racer front end which would be much more reserved and better looking.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “[Get new and used Toyota Avalon pricing here!]”

    Da fuq?

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the antediluvian Chrysler 300 has a classier looking dash than the “new” Avalon.

    And am I the only one who finds this car to be seriously Fugly? It’s not just the baleen whale grille, but the disjointed character lines running all over.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      No you’re not. I find the front end polarizing but from the side it’s just plain ugly. And not ugly like they made odd choices. Ugly like someone made a mistake and they tried to cover it up with character lines zigging and zagging. It’s like they took a look at the awful beltline on the Honda Odyssey (which at least serves a purpose) and tried to repeat it in sheet metal on the doors. Twice.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Agree. I felt the previous Avalon was much better looking.

    Inside, I sat in one of these at the auto show. I’m 6’2″ with medium build, and just like its little brother the Camry, my right leg was plastered to the overly intrusive center console. Neither the Accord nor the Mazda6 had that problem. The Accord is much more ergonomic and feels more spacious for the driver. And I think the Mazda6 interior in its higher trims carries off the luxury car impression much more convincingly than this Avalon does. It really does punch way above its weight.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    This is the modern Buick for baby boomers that don’t want to actually drive Buicks like their parents did.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This seems like a good car for “stealth speed”. Get on the interstate, set the cruise at a high number and gobble up the miles without anyone paying much attention to you.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Trouble is, having rented both many times, the last big Buick sedans were MUCH nicer than Avalons. In looks inside and out, and to drive. Probably cheaper in the real world too.

      But even if it drove like the second-coming of the e28 BMW, I couldn’t get past the looks of the thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Without looking it up to verify, I recall that the 2nd-gen (’10-’16) LaCrosse actually beat the contemporary Avalon or ES in a comparison or two. I’m not claiming that was a consensus, but it stuck in my mind that someone from the world of auto scribes actually came out and said, “I prefer the Buick,” in a relatively unqualified way.

        Re: cheaper in the real world, I assume the LaCrosse gets killed by the the Avalon in resale, but I can conceive of an ownership scenario where the LaCrosse buyer went in with open eyes in terms of actual purchase, maintenance, and resale numbers and ended up better off than he would have been with the Toyota.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Not sure how this thing is fugly profile-wise, it’s about as inoffensive as white toast. The front? Sure, that’s questionable.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Man I wish toyota could put this v6 in a car with a manual transmission less expensive than an Evora. I’ve not driven this car , but our Toyota big six so much creamier than my old VQ powered Infinities.

  • avatar
    wfl

    People in Rural Areas not close to a Lexus Dealer buy an Avalon. The last luxury ES was the 2006. The last ES without the mouse was 2012. I have owned 4 ES330’s and now own a 2012 ES350 and would never buy any ES newer than a 2012. The Luxury factor has gone down since 2006.

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