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Surprise Review – 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD is Not What I Expected

Learn about key features and benefits of 2020 Avalon TRD. Some of these really surprised me.


I recently had the opportunity to evaluate a Toyota Avalon for an entire week. Seven days should give anyone time to learn about a vehicle and what makes it tick. Right?

I remember Toyota Avalon from previous years and even decades. It drives smooth. It is incredibly quiet. Plus, it rides amazingly comfortable. Frankly, it is the ideal vehicle for a grandma and grandpa to ride in luxury and comfort.

Only, I was not evaluating just a Toyota Avalon. I was reviewing the high-performance 2020 Avalon TRD.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Specs

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Celestial Silver Metallic profile view

All Toyota Avalons across all grades and trim levels are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This produces 301 horsepower and works in combination with an 8-speed automatic transmission. However, the 2020 Avalon TRD uses this power in a completely different way than what you may be familiar with.

Toyota Racing Development, or TRD, is Toyota’s high-performance division. It has produced solid and popular entries like Tacoma, 4Runner, Tundra, Camry, RAV4, and Sequoia TRD models.

TRD Off-Road. TRD Sport. TRD Pro. And Avalon TRD.

Look for Avalon TRD enhancements such as specially tuned shock absorbers, thick underbody bracing, and 12.9-inch brake rotors. These features work to increase handling, agility, and corning while decreasing body roll. You definitely feel these improvements behind the wheel.

2020 Avalon TRD Test Drive

I will get this one specific observation out of the way first. Avalon TRD is fast. Other reputable automotive experts have rated TRD’s 0-60 time at just about 6 seconds. While this may not be considered a “fast” car compared to more well-known performance vehicles, it does feel fast in real life situations.

VIDEO: Watch my "Toyotajeff" YouTube channel Avalon TRD test drive. Over 150,000 views!

I drive a 4-cylinder 2018 Camry XLE, so I am used to 203 horsepower and that is just fine with me. It keeps me away from speeding tickets.

My week-long review of 2020 Avalon TRD proved in my mind that it excels when the stop light turns green, when climbing a steeper hill and when merging on to a highway.

I am not a race car driver by any means, so it may seem weird to hear me say Avalon was adrenaline-filled. Those of us who do not drive fast cars every day will appreciate what I am saying.

Cornering was exceptional. I tested it pretty much everywhere I could think of. Winding country roads. A particularly curvy stretch of highway near Raleigh, NC. City streets with twists and turns.

Avalon TRD holds its own very well even when going around sharper curves at more than the posted limit (not that I did this or anything). With track-tuned suspension, you will feel completely in control of your vehicle and the road.

How does it look, Jeff?

Again, borrowing from the popular phrase: this is not your grandpa’s Avalon.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Celestial Silver Metallic front end front grille

Toyota Avalons these days come with a larger, aggressive front grille and TRD is no exception. Gloss black in color. In fact, look for gloss black and red accents throughout the exterior and the interior cabin.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Celestial Silver Metallic back end rear spoiler

I really liked the wide gloss black and red side aero kit running from door to door. Look for signature gloss black rear spoiler that sets the back end off nicely. Combine it with TRD’s muscular sounding dual exhaust and you have an imposing rear end.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD front seats interior

My favorite “signature” feature was the use of black and red seating. Black SofTex seats with red accents. Even red seatbelts.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD interior multimedia touch screen

Avalon TRD comes standard with Audio Plus, which includes a 9-inch multimedia touch screen and supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa functions and commands.

I suggest you upgrade your 2020 Avalon TRD to Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL. There is a noticeable upgrade in sound quality when you go with 14 speakers, a 1200-watt amp, and Clari-Fi sound quality. This is probably the most powerful sound system Toyota has produced in its vehicles.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD multimedia touch screen apple carplay android auto amazon alexa

I really love my music and I could not keep the sound up at higher decibels for too long. This JBL system rocks.

Time for your thoughts on Avalon TRD

Avalon TRD is not for everyone. I would call it a niche vehicle. This would be a great choice for those people who enjoy luxury driving but still want the opportunity to open things up once in a while.

Test drive it. You should find it to be smooth and comfortable with a hard edge to it. I thoroughly enjoyed my week with the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD.

What do you think of Avalon and its TRD option? Have you driven one and what do you think? Also, if you are an Avalon TRD owner, tell us your impressions.

I would love to compare notes.

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I discuss the critically low supply of Toyota Tacoma trucks.

Follow Jeff Teague on social media:

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Dean Culley (not verified)    June 15, 2020 - 10:32PM

Jeff, I purchased a 2020 Avalon TRD right after Thanksgiving (2019) for alot of things you have in your article. The only problem I have with it is that the drivers seat is very uncomfortable.
I had to take a 5 hour round trip from home the first of January. When I was into hour 3 and 4 my lower back was killing me. I had to get out a couple times to stretch, walk, etc to feel better.
I am still driving it but I haven't gone on too many long distances rides.
I do think it is a nice looking car with the black and silver outside and the red and gray on the inside. Finally Toyota added some color to their cars
I enjoy your articles
Thanks Dean

Wayne Lewis (not verified)    August 20, 2020 - 8:00PM

Your article claims Android Auto is usable in this car. It is not. While Toyota has finally acknowledged that not everyone uses Apple phones, they have not yet announced a date when Android Auto will be available for the Avalon. Making those of us who would love to buy this car forced to downgrade to the Camry.

Josh Kimerling (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 5:58PM

I too owned a Camry.. 2018 SE model. It was great.. Practical but once I test drove the Avalon TRD I realized it was BORING. You got it exactly right.. It not fast enough to win a drag race with BMW M3 but the car is still shockingly fast and agile.. not to mention the throaty exhaust note that taps into our inner most meathead.

I have 2 kids so its juts enough to give me just enough excitement but practical and safe enough to do all the family stuff we need. I'm gonna happily drive this car for the next 10 years.