2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Review
By Jakob Hansen, 6/12/2021
Toyota’s full size sedan has the class, economy, and space. But does it have the right price to match?
We were able to spend a week with Toyota’s finest sedan available in the US. Is it still able to compete in a diminishing sedan market?
The 2020 Toyota Avalon is Toyota's full size sedan. The Avalon has traditionally been the largest, most luxurious, and most comfortable vehicle in Toyota’s lineup. The extra large four-door sedan has room to comfortably seat five full size adults and swallow up their luggage in the massive trunk.
The Hybrid trim adds a level of efficiency not normally found in this class. Combined with the smooth ride, comfortable interior, and classy trim that Toyota has added to the upper trim levels, the Avalon quickly becomes a sedan that can compete out of its class.
The handling and ride quality is what you would expect from a full size sedan, and offer smoothness with a connected road feel that is still not found in modern SUVs. There is a hybrid and gas-only drivetrain available, we tested the hybrid drivetrain. The price point is higher than many of its competitors in this class, however, in its highest trims, the Avalon is able to offer a classier interior with proven Toyota reliability.
What’s New for 2020?
Since the Avalon received a facelift in 2019, not much has changed for the 2020 model year. Minor updates to the infotainment system and some small mechanical upgrades have tweaked the car to perform slightly better.
The most notable difference for the 2020 model year is the addition of the Avalon TRD, which adds sports suspension, sports exhaust, and some more aggressive styling. The 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited that we tested does not come with these upgrades but features higher-end interior and exterior trim and more features.
Pricing As Tested
2020 Toyota Avalon MSRP
- XLE: $35,875
- XSE: $38,375
- Limited: $42,175
- TRD: $42,375
- Touring: $42,575
- Hybrid XLE: $37,805
- Hybrid Limited: $43,150
The 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited that we tested comes with a $43,150 MSRP. Our tester, with some minor upgrades, comes with an asking price of $45,489.
The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a numbers machine. One of the best things about the car is the analytical data, because it leads the class in so many different categories.
We already know the pricing, which is slightly higher than some of the other cars in the market, however, the higher-end materials used throughout the cabin, particularly in the higher end models, make up for the higher price.
Trunk space is massive, with a gaping 16.09 ft³. We were able to easily fit three adult hockey bags in the trunk, a relative metric we like to use up here in Michigan.
Front space is massive. Front passengers are greeted with 42.1 in. of legroom, 37.4 in. of headroom, and 58.3 in. of shoulder room. What's crazy is the rear seat space. Rear seats have 40.3 in. of leg room, 37.5 in. of headroom, and 57.1 in. of shoulder room. With my son in his car seat, I was not able to reach him as he was set so far back. Full size adults comfortably sit in the rear with no issues whatsoever.
For those of you purchasing the hybrid, fuel-economy is clearly a large concern as well. Our testers are typically a bit...heavy-footed, and even with spirited driving the Avalon Hybrid was still able to squeeze out an impressive 34 mpg combined. What’s more impressive, however, is that we frequently saw mpg in the high 40’s and even 50’s. With normal driving, we were able to average around 39-41 combined mpg. In a full-size sedan. That’s impressive.
Full size sedans are synonymous with ride comfort. The floating, boat suspension of the old US cars may have gone to the wayside, but the expectation of comfort is still there. The 2020 Toyota Avalon delivers, at least to some extent, on the expectation of ride comfort.
We found the ride to be compliant and comfortable, yet not as soft as we would have liked. The Avalon comes with surprising zippy handling, capable of taking turns much faster and more composed than we would have expected, but we would gladly give up some of the cornering ability for a more opulent ride. As far as we know, most of the Avalon’s buyers would as well.
Interior space is a surprising place. When we first sat in the 2020 Avalon, we immediately got a very Lexus feel. After feeling around a bit, however, you quickly realize that it is no Lexus. The appearance of the interior is excellent. The stitched leather, perforated leather steering wheel, and upscale-looking materials all around the cabin set the scene of a car much more than the $45,000 asking price. However, the reality is that the trim pieces are not much of a step up from a base Corolla. The leather is soft and nicely trimmed, but the seats are flat and stiff. There are hard plastics all around the center console that are very obvious, and have sharp, scratchy edges. The piano gloss trim around the screen quickly gets dirty and looks a bit tacky. Even the shifter feels barely screwed on. So while the interior looks very nice, and is even comfortable in some sense of the term, it misses the mark on some obvious and important sections.
At this trim level and price, if you want class and efficiency combined with luxury, we suggest buying a Lexus If you are okay with forgoing some of the classy trim such as fancy leather and stitching on the doors, a mid-level Avalon Hybrid is a perfect buy. Especially for those that refuse to give up on the classic four-door sedan. For everyone else, the utility, cargo space, and ride quality of modern SUVs is more likely going to provide you with what you’re looking for. The RAV4 offers a similar ride, more cargo space, and better overall value. However, for those that must have a full-size sedan and still care about saving on fuel, the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is an excellent choice.
Jakob is our writer with love for all things automotive. He comes from a dealer background with experience on both sides of the fence. As an enthusiast and frequent buyer he knows the system inside and out, he how to get the best deals. No matter what.