Adrenaline Rush! The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD
It’s been 25 years since Toyota first introduced the Avalon – a true American car built in the United States at Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. That first Avalon was merely a Toyota Camry with a slightly longer wheelbase and optional seating for six. A car perfect for the grandparents. Not a bad idea, just nothing to get too excited about. After a few redesigns, the Avalon was creating its own identity but still wasn’t a car to raise a lot of hoopla about.
But boy has that changed for the 2020 model year.
First, let’s backtrack a few years to 2018, when the fifth-generation Avalon debuted. No longer Camry based, this new Avalon now shared the same platform as the Lexus ES and was easily the most aggressively designed Avalon ever. Fitted with an optional adaptive suspension, it was also the sportiest Avalon to drive.
Now, for 2020, Toyota has let their performance division, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) play with the Avalon and the results is the subject of this review – the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD.
The sporty new TRD trim level dresses the Avalon with a black-painted body kit with red pinstriping, a rear spoiler, a rear diffuser and blacked-out exterior trim. Yes, you read that right, this Avalon sports a rear diffuser. Bet you never saw that coming. Lightweight 19-inch wheels round out the package.
Inside, it’s just as wild. Red seatbelts along with red accents and stitching can be found throughout the cabin, along with TRD logos on the seatbelts and floor mats.
TRD didn’t forget the mechanics, as this Avalon gets a half-inch lower ride height, stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, thicker under-body braces and larger front brakes. Engine mods? Sadly no, unless you count a slightly different exhaust note. The 3.5 V6 found in the Avalon TRD is still rated at 301 hp -the same as all 2020 Avalons and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission to route the power to the front wheels.
While the TRD enhancements come up a little short in the performance department (I would have preferred a bump in power), they are, nonetheless, present. Road grip and handling seem better, and a snarl can be heard when you step the go pedal. The ride, while a little stiffer, still provides a nice cushion when going over road imperfections, thanks in part to the Avalon’s long wheelbase.
TRD stuff aside, the Avalon remains a very likable sedan. The interior is huge, which lends itself well on roadtrips. The 9-inch infotainment system flows nicely into the center console giving the entire dash area a smooth look and feel. And the build quality and interior amenities are top-notch – almost Lexus-like.
Pricing for the Avalon TRD starts at $42,300, with the tester carrying a price tag of $45,394. Going with a regular, non TRD model, means the Avalon starts at $35,800 for the base XLE and goes up from there with the XSE ($38,300), the Limited ($42,100), and the top-of-the-line Touring, which comes in above the TRD with a price tag of $42,500.
No doubt, the Avalon TRD really adds some spice to the Avalon lineup. Just who will be craving an Avalon that has been lowered, has a rear spoiler and a diffuser? I’m not real sure, but the grandparents should still like it and at the same time maybe bring in a more youthful buyer to the Avalon.
– Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD
Base Price: $42,300.00
Price as Tested: $45,394.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 3.5 liter DOHC 24-valve V6
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 301 hp
Torque: 267 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 22 city / 31 highway mpg
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