Toyota Sedan: More Playful Than Your Average Daily Driver

The Toyota Avalon is a traditional full-size sedan but it gets a lot more exciting with the addition of the new TRD trim.

Toyota Sedan: More Playful Than Your Average Daily Driver


The Japanese automaker is upgrading most of its models with TRD (Toyota Racing Division) trims for driving enthusiasts. The Avalon has never been known for this type of performance, but it gets a sportier suspension, more athletic styling, and other upgrades over the standard model. 

We took the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD for a test drive in the mountain of Colorado to see how it performs through tight curves. “If it’s half as fast as it looks, it will be a fun model to drive,” we said before we jumped inside.

Toyota Avalon TRD: What’s New For 2020?

The Avalon TRD is a new trim level that adds sport to the big sedan. The first thing we noticed was the exterior treatments the TRD models receive. Toyota did a good job of dressing it up with matte black wheels, a piano black rear spoiler, and front, side, and rear aerodynamic body kits with red striping. To finish it off, they added a red TRD badge. 

Toyota’s engineers tested the Avalon TRD at Toyota’s Arizona Proving Ground, TMC Higashi-Fuji Proving Ground in Japan, and MotorSport Ranch in Texas. The chassis of the Avalon TRD comes with stiffer coil springs and stabilizer bars (44 percent in front and 67 percent at the rear). Due to unique coil springs, the Avalon TRD is lower by 0.6 inches versus other models.

The new TRD joins Avalon’s four other grades: XLE, XSE, Limited, and Touring. The XLE, XSE and Limited are also available as a hybrid.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD: Standard Features

The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD comes standard with LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and simulated leather upholstery with microsuede seat inserts. It also comes with a nine-inch touchscreen, eight-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, and Toyota’s Safety Connect emergency communications.

Toyota’s Safety Sense-P, a suite of advanced safety features, is also included as standard equipment. The package contians:

  • Automatic High Beams.
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist.
  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection.

Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross Traffic Braking are also available. 

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD: Optional Equipment

TRD trims receive 19-inch wheels, black exterior treatments, a sunroof, rear spoiler, sport-tuned suspension and exhaust, upgraded brakes, and steering wheel paddle shifters. This Avalon TRD came with an optional JBL audio system ($1,760).

What Does The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Cost?

Total MSRP, including destination, for our Avalon TRD tester: $46,147. By comparison, the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD starts at $42,375.

Interior Highlights: Comfortable & Roomy

The Avalon TRD cabin is a great place to spend time if you have to make a long commute. We took a long road trip this week and the big sedan is the perfect road car. The Softex upholstery with Ultra-suede inserts and red stitching feels more upscale than the price would suggest. The cabin is roomy and there is plenty of legroom up front for taller riders.

Regardless of the trim level, the 2020 Toyota Avalon offers over 40 inches of legroom for front and rear passengers. While legroom is a strength in the back, the headroom can feel a little compromised for taller passengers due to the sloping roofline. 

The Avalon TRD comes with heated front seats but we were surprised it didn’t also have a heated steering wheel for cold mornings. Rear heated seats are available for all Avalon trim levels, including the TRD. Finally, the JBL premium sound system has 14 speakers, a subwoofer, and a 1,200-watt amplifier for those who want to keep out the noisy world.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD: Engine & Powertrain

The Avalon TRD comes with the same 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine as the standard models. It produces 301 horsepower (6,600 rpm) and 267 lb-ft. of torque (4,700 rpm) and is connected to an eight-speed automatic. EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 22/31 city/highway and 25 combined mpg.

Is The Toyota Avalon TRD All-Wheel Drive?

Currently, all models of the 2020 Toyota Avalon are front-wheel drive. However, Toyota will introduce an all-wheel drive option for the Avalon next year.

Driving Dynamics: Smooth & Crisp

Even though the new Avalon TRD has the same power rating as the standard models, the retuned suspension, upgraded brakes, and thicker underbody braces make a difference and provide extra stability. We pushed the big sedan hard in the mountains near Denver and it responded well in the corners.

The TRD-tuned suspension allowed us to take the curves faster than normal with little body lean. There is a bit of understeer with the front-drive configuration, however. 

The Avalon is not generally thought of as a sports sedan, but the TRD looks the part. When we pushed it hard up I-70, the TRD exhaust sounded the part as well. The eight-speed automatic transmission was smooth shifting and found the right gear most of the time. 

Visibility is good from the front and modest to the sides and back. There was minimal wind noise inside the cabin, although we wished for a heads-up display so we could keep our eyes on the road more easily.

Conclusion: Looks Good, Feels Solid

The Avalon TRD is a great sedan for long road trips, daily commuting, and looking cool while you do it! We got plenty of looks this week as other drivers checked out the new TRD. If you need a full-size sedan with a little more edge, but don’t want to spend big money on a sports car, the Avalon TRD should be on your list.

Originally published at Automo blog