Toyota Avalon Hybrid 2020 review: Big fish in the pond is getting narrower

Toyota Avalon Hybrid 2020

The grille is a bit too much.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

With the current Avalon, Toyota decided to try changing the sedan’s previous drowsy image in the hopes of appealing to buyers whose individual Venn diagrams do not overlap with AARP membership. I’d be damn if Toyota doesn’t succeed, because the 2020 Toyota Avalon not only looks fun, but it’s also pretty cool to drive.


  • The transmission system is smooth and efficient
  • Great interior, great seats
  • Lots of standard safety technology


  • Much wind noise
  • There is no Android Auto
  • That grille is huge

The 2020 Toyota Avalon is available with two very different powertrains. The standard version has a V6, 3.5-liter naturally aspirated, 301 hp and 267 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. But for this review, I’m focusing on the Avalon Hybrid, which is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to the brand’s electronic continuously variable transmission, for 176 hp. and 163 lb-ft.

My test car was the XSE Hybrid, and despite its inaccurate power numbers, it feels perfectly suited to acceleration and overtaking on the highway. The best part of the hybrid powertrain – in addition to its stellar, the EPA estimates fuel economy of 43 miles per gallon in the city and on the highway – is glassy, ​​smooth delivery of power. Toyota has been doing this for a long time and it really shows.

The Avalon’s XSE is the sportier of the two non-TRD equipment, though that doesn’t say much. My test car’s “sport-tuned suspension” didn’t seem to do much in terms of enhancing driver engagement or any significant increase in grip. Thankfully, the engineers didn’t take the sportier controls too far, because the car was comfortable even when the road was broken on Los Angeles.

The Avalon’s handlebars are surprisingly beautiful, with just enough weight for the wheel and a good linear feel. This system doesn’t provide a lot of feedback to the rider, but for a car like the Avalon, that’s certainly out of anticipation and also not a deal-breaking factor. Braking is also not what I’d call brilliant but without any apparent evils or weirdness, possible with the hybrid powertrain and regenerative braking. There’s a lot of initial bites when you want it, but the brakes don’t feel overly tired at low speeds, which is a plus.

Avalon comes standard with a variety of safety technologies as standard in the Toyota Safety Sense P. TSS-P suite of driver assistance systems including things like a pre-determined system with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. road with steering assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. There’s also a standard blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert. Unsurprisingly, the systems all performed well.

Overall, modern Toyotas’ interiors are pretty lovely places to spend time, but the Avalon is on another level – especially in more expensive items like the flagship Limited. It’s a lot like Lexus, but with better infotainment. Win / win, right?

My more modestly priced XSE Hybrid tester lacks the thick leather of the Limited bezel, but that doesn’t mean it’s not excellent. The high point of the interior for me is the front seats. They are breathtaking. They feel soft and smooth while also providing plenty of support for the long journeys behind the wheel. Aside from how they feel, they also look great. I would like to see Toyota start offering these in other models.

The Avalon has plenty of interior space for front and rear passengers along with plenty of cargo space in a well-designed full-size sedan trunk – 16.1 cubic feet to be exact. The cabin materials are carefully crafted and are of very high quality. Overall the fit and finish is excellent, and the whole car feels premium, especially at its price.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid 2020

Avalon’s interior is extremely comfortable.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

The biggest problem with the Avalon’s interior is the noise. The car doesn’t have to make tons of noise on the road and doesn’t have any squeaks or squeals to talk about. However, the wind noise the car makes is a bit severe, especially when the car has double glazing. For comparison’s sake, I recently spent some time on the larger and bulky Toyota Land Cruiser (and older), and even at California highway speeds, it’s still very quiet. Not so with the much sleeker Avalon. It’s hard to tell the sound coming from the door mirrors or some body-style touches, but at higher freeway speeds, it’s sometimes enough to make conversation difficult.

From an infotainment standpoint, the Avalon isn’t something anyone would call cutting-edge – this simply isn’t Toyota’s strong point – but it’s so much better than its predecessor, to the point of flaws. its almost impossible to ignore. This is especially true if you are a regular user of Apple CarPlay or Amazon’s Alexa, but if you’re an Android user, you’re out of luck.

My testers have an upgraded premium sound system designed with JBL. It features integrated navigation as well as Clari-Fi audio enhancement, engine sound amplification (ugh), and Toyota’s Active Noise Control system. It’s not a super cheap package at $ 1,750, but as a music and audiobook lover I consider this a worthwhile box to tick off – even if the noise-control tech doesn’t seem real. efficiency at highway speeds. It is also worth mentioning that on the XSE Hybrid, the upgraded sound pack is the only option. Everything else is the norm.

So how much will a well-equipped Toyota Avalon XSE Hybrid 2020 cost you? Less actually than you might think. My tester retails for $ 42,836 ($ 836 is the accessory), making for a pretty attractive value proposition, based on Toyota’s resale value and reputation for reliability.

There aren’t many full-size sedans left, but the Avalon is undoubtedly the best in the group.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

To be honest, the Avalon doesn’t have many competitors, not just because of its size but also because of its price. Today, not many large sedans are produced, and most of the others are quite expensive compared to the Avalon. However, there are a few things worth discussing like the Lexus ES 300h, the Kia Cadenza 2020 and the Chevrolet not-long-for-world-this 2020 Impala.

The price of the Lexus is strangely similar to the Avalon, but when it comes to the more sophisticated badge, you’re really giving up some creature comforts. Specifically, Lexus has a worse infotainment system, the interior design is less luxurious and a bit more flexible, and Lexus does not allow you to fold the rear seats down.

The 2020 Cadenza is really a big challenge for Toyota if buyers can get past the Kia badge. The Cadenza is refreshed for 2020, improving looks inside and out, and there are some tweaks to the suspension to give it a smoother ride. The downside is that it’s only offered with a 290-hp V6, so if you want something a bit more gas-efficient, it might not be the car for you. The Cadenza is priced pretty close to the Avalon, with the Tech trim starting at $ 38,885, while the more luxurious Limited costs $ 44,585.

The 2020 Toyota Avalon isn’t a perfect car, but it certainly remains the big fish in its shrinking pond. It’s a pleasant car to drive, and will last long and hold its value in a way that the competition probably won’t. If you can get past the styling, the Avalon Hybrid is a great choice.

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