|✓ Stylish (more so than old Avalons)||☓ Ease of entry (or lack of it)|
|✓ Composed ride and handling||☓ Heavy steering|
|✓ Roomy interior||☓ No Android Auto (yet)|
|✓ Safety equipment|
Driving the 2020 Toyota Avalon Limited may compel you to ask: “Why do I need a Lexus?”
Indeed, while Toyota produces the upscale Lexus brand, the Avalon sedan long has been Toyota’s flagship sedan. In fact, the Avalon marks its 25th year for 2020. It’s now in its fifth generation after a 2019 redesign, featuring a more striking coupe-like design. The dual chrome-tipped exhausts are among the nice styling touches.
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.
Comfort and Convenience
Construction quality in the 2020 Toyota Avalon is excellent, although the trunk lid has a tinny sound when slammed close. Toyota should work on this oddity. For instance, the doors close with a positive, reassuring “thunk,” which is a tactile measure of quality I would expect throughout the car.
The fairly large trunk has a low, wide opening. Cargo room can be increased a lot by flipping the rear seat backs forward.
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.
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. An easily used touch screen with redundant dashboard physical controls and a large color information display add a welcome piece of technology without making it too complicated to use. There’s Apple CarPlay, but no Android auto integration.
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 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.
Moving into fast expressway traffic and quick passing are no problem thanks to the smooth 3.5-liter, 301 horsepower V-6 with 267 lb-ft of torque. It works with a seamless eight-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted.
A driver can select Eco, 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.
Estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on highways. It only calls for 87 octane is called to fill the 15.8-gallon fuel tank as well.
Still the sensible choice
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.
Still, a bonus is that this solidly built car has a strong reliability history that should help its resale value. Among the dwindling options in large family sedans, the 2020 Toyota Avalon is still a class act worth considering.