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.