2020 Toyota Avalon Review

2020 Toyota Avalon - The 2020 Toyota Avalon Limited is carefully developed


Price: $42,175

Pros-Stylish. Fast. Roomy. Supple ride. Composed handling. Safety features

Cons-Moderate access ease. Heavy Sport mode steering. No Android auto integration. Loud seat belt reminder.

Bottom Line-Smooth near-luxury sedan.

Driving the 2020 Toyota Avalon Limited may cause some to ask: "Who needs a Lexus?"

Indeed, whileToyota produces the upscale Lexus, the Avalon sedan long has been the premier Toyota auto. In fact, the Avalon marks its 25th year for 2020 after the fifth generation Avalon arrived for 2019 with a striking coupe-like design. The dual chrome-tipped exhausts are among the nice styling touches.

There's no reason why Toyota's continued Avalon development shouldn't make this sedan outstanding in most respects.

There are various front-wheel-drive-Avalon models, including a hybrid, but my test car was the $42,175 Limited, which should satisfy many Avalon buyers.

This 113-inch-wheelbase car is easy to park and maneuver. It weighs 3,660 pounds and is 195.5 inches long, but feels lighter and smaller, but also very solid. The Avalon has plenty of glass area, which is especially welcome in heavy traffic.

Construction quality is excellent, although the trunk lid has a tinny sound when slammed close. Toyota should work on this oddity. Conversely, the doors close with a positive, reassuring "thunk."

Moving into fast expressway traffic and quick passing are no problem thanks to the smooth 3.5-liter, 301-horsepower V-6 with 267 pound/feet of torque. It works with a seamless 8-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted.

Estimated fuel economy is 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on highways. Only 87-octane is called for to fill the 15.8-gallon fuel tank.

The 2020 Avalon is roomy and easy to drive, with clearly marked manual controls and an easily used touch screen. The ride is a bit firm but comfortable, with no sloppiness. The steering also is firm but positive, and handling is composed around curves, although the Limited is not a sports sedan.

A driver can select Economical, Normal or Sport drive modes via a console control, but Sport tightens things up a lot in the steering, suspension and even engine and transmission areas and is best used for, say, mountain driving. On the other hand, the ride is supple, no matter what the drive mode. The brake pedal has an easy modular action.

Four tall adults fit comfortably, although the front console consumes a lot of room and the stiff rear seat center is best left to the fold-down armrest with cupholders. There are a good number of storage areas, including a large front console bin with a cover.

The fairly large trunk has a low, wide opening. Cargo room can be increased a lot by flipping the rear seat backs forward.

The quiet, lavishly furnished interior has power heated/ventilated supportive leather front seats. Even the rear seats provide good support for long trips. There's also dual climate controls, dynamic navigation, quilted leather door paneling, attractive stitching and soft-touch surfaces throughout. There's an easily used touch screen with redundant dashboard physical controls and a large color information display. There's Apple CarPlay, but no Android auto integration.

Being basically a family car, the Avalon has lots of safety features. They include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, cross-traffic alert, integrated backup camera, heated outside mirrors with turn signals and a blind-spot monitor. However, the fasten-seat-belt reminder is annoyingly loud.

One optional safety feature on my test car that I especially liked was a Bird's Eye View camera with perimeter scan that shows via a dashboard screen if there are any objects surrounding the entire car. It's part of a $1,150 advanced safety package that includes rear cross-traffic braking.

A bonus is that this solidly built car has a strong reliability history that should help its resale value.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.