After presenting a completely reworked and sportier Avalon sedan for 2019, Toyota tops it off by adding a TRD version for 2020. This is the first Avalon engineered by the Toyota Racing Development team.
Avalon’s four other grades (XLE, XSE, Limited, and Touring) still remain, and with the exception of the XLE, are also available in Hybrid versions.
Mechanicals distinguishing the Avalon TRD from the rest of the group include a lower ride height, stiffer coil springs and stabilizer bars, TRD shock absorbers, 19-inch by 8.5-inch matte-black alloy wheels, larger front brakes with 12.9-inch diameter rotors and two-piston calipers, and a TRD specially-tuned dual exhaust system.
An exclusive black aerodynamic body kit with red pinstriping on the Avalon TRD adds a front splitter, side skirts, a trunk lid spoiler, and a rear diffuser. TRD badging provides the finishing touch.
Supersonic Red exterior paint (no extra charge) is an Avalon TRD exclusive. The other available colors are Wind Chill Pearl, Celestial Silver Metallic, and Midnight Black Metallic.
The Avalon TRD interior has the same spacious proportions as the other models, and so does the trunk. The comfortable seats are black SofTex with red accents and Ultrasuede inserts. Headrests are embroidered with the TRD logo in red stitching.
Overall, the 2020 Avalon TRD looks the part of a powerful high-performance sedan, no question. But its power is mainly the power of suggestion, because under the hood is the same 3.5-liter, 301-horsepower V6 engine used in the other Avalons, paired with the same eight-speed automatic transmission and with front-wheel drive.
That’s not a knock on the engine or transmission. They’re a great pair and there’s no shortage of power. It’s just, why get the TRD when the other trims have the same powertrain? The enhanced mechanicals from the TRD engineers make a sizable contribution toward better body control, handling agility, and precise steering, but drivers who zero in on those qualities would also be keen on lots of power.
To be fair, the TRD gets big bonus points for the glorious sound of its exhaust system. It’s the real deal, too, not noise piped into the cabin through speakers. In fact during the test week there were times when I thought the exhaust note alone was worth getting the TRD.
Pricing for the 2020 Toyota Avalon starts at $36,830 for the XLE trim and tops out at $43,530 for the Touring. The TRD is in the middle, at $43,330.
Hybrid models are an extra $1,125.
My TRD tester was equipped with an optional 14-speaker premium JBL audio system with navigation, $1,760.
EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD are 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.
2020 TOYOTA AVALON TRD
Base price, including destination charge: $43,330
Price as driven: $45,892
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.