Ever since the Toyota Avalon came to life in 1995, the Avalon has existed as a more luxurious and comfy alternative to the popular Camry. No one would ever put the words sporty and Toyota Avalon in the same sentence. Well sedans are obviously having a hard go right now, so Toyota is trying something a bit different with the latest Avalon – the Avalon TRD.
When the current generation Toyota Avalon arrived for the 2019 model year, Toyota already pushed the Avalon into new territory with its boldest exterior yet. Now Toyota is taking the Avalon into a new segment, while it attempts to ditch its boring, label that it’s had in the past. The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD gives the large sedan an even more aggressive exterior and the Toyota Racing Development team even worked their magic under the skin to improve how it drives.
We applaud Toyota for the Avalon TRD, since it manages to keep nearly everything that Avalon buyers want in the large sedan, but by adding the TRD parts, the Avalon TRD is now more enjoyable to drive than ever before.
Starting with the outside, you’ll immediately notice the new 19-inch black wheels and that the Avalon TRD sits lower to the ground, 0.6-inches lower to be exact. There’s also a black body kit with red pinstriping, a rear spoiler, blacked-out exterior trim and a diffuser in the lower rear bumper.
Inside there are plenty of red accents, red seatbelts, and TRD badges on the front headrests.
Under the skin, the Avalon TRD’s springs are 10 percent stiffer in the front and 15 percent stiffer in the rear, there are stiffer anti-rolls bars, new dampers with internal return springs, and 0.9-inch larger front brake rotors with two-piston calipers. The exhaust system has also been upgraded to give the Avalon a meatier sound.
The one thing that didn’t change is the 301-hp 3.5-liter V6 that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
So did Toyota succeed with its mission to push the Avalon to new heights with the Avalon TRD? Yes. While the Avalon TRD still isn’t a match for a beast like the V8-powered Dodge Charger, the Avalon TRD is a sportier and more exciting Avalon for buyers that want a little bit more from the large sedan.
The upgrades under the skin aren’t significant, but the small chassis updates do make the Avalon more fun to drive. The Avalon TRD still rides on the same tires as the Avalon Touring, so its ride is about the same, but it does get a new Active Cornering Assist system to help it turn more sharply on those back country roads. The good news is that you don’t have to worry that the lower ride height and stiffer springs will make your lower back scream on a long road trip.
We do wish that Toyota had managed to squeeze a few extra horses out of the 3.5-liter V6 to make the Avalon TRD even better. Inside the seats also lack lateral support, which caused us to slide around a bit more than we would have liked, but then again sportier seats would make the Avalon TRD less appealing to buyers that buy the Avalon.
The 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD starts at $43,330, which makes it the most expensive Avalon you can buy. It only has one option, which adds a JBL audio system and a navigation system for $1,770. If you opt for the 2021 Avalon TRD, you can also get it with summer tires now.
With the arrival of the sporty Toyota Avalon TRD, we can no longer say the Avalon is a boring sedan just for our grandparents.