Driven: Avalon and TRD actually fit together quite nicely

Pushed: Avalon and TRD truly match collectively fairly properly

We puzzled what Toyota Racing Growth may have the ability to do to make the Avalon sedan right into a driver’s automotive, and we have been impressed | Larry Edsall images

I used to be perplexed when the e-mail arrived providing me per week in a 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD. 

Avalon, seemingly little greater than a plus-size Camry, and TRD, Toyota Racing Growth, in the identical sentence? Appeared oxymoronic.

However then I remembered again greater than a decade in the past, once I chased the Copperstate 1000 classic sports activities automotive rally for a number of days in a Camry tweaked by Toyota Racing Growth, and the way spectacular that automobile was and the way it did an excellent job, truly protecting just about on tempo with the sports activities vehicles.

So I stated, positive, let’s see what this Avalon TRD gives, and after per week within the automotive, I believe it gives rather a lot. 

My first impression of the automotive was favorable, albeit a bit boy-racer in look due to the TRD physique bits in a contrasting piano black standing out in opposition to the Supersonic Purple paint. The automotive rides on matte-black, 19-inch wheels with low-profile tires that additional improve its barely lowered stance. 

Appears are one factor, driving is one other. 

So I climb in, modify the seat and steering column and mirrors, press the starter button and — what’s that sound? The Avalon TRD has the usual 3.5-liter Toyota V6, besides they normally don’t sound so stout. Seems the TRD upfit features a cat-back twin exhaust system that permits the engine to exhale extra freely, which, I hope, signifies that the engine’s 301 horsepower get to gallop extra freely.

Again out of the driveway and head up the road. Not solely does the automotive sound good, it goes properly, despite the fact that the 8-speed computerized transmission has the usual Toyota gearing. Not commonplace, nevertheless, are such issues are “track-tuned” coil springs, bigger entrance and rear stabilizer bars, added physique bracing, enlarged disc brakes, lowered stance, and summer season (high-speed rated) Michelin tires on these wheels, which permit the red-painted brake calipers to peek by means of.

Checking the automobile’s specs, I additionally uncover that it weighs 3,655 kilos, greater than the Avalon in XLE trim however lower than the Touring model. 

My preliminary impression is that this automotive is what I anticipated, however didn’t discover within the much-hyped, more-expensive and twin-turbocharged Kia Stinger GT2 that I’d pushed 2 years earlier.

Cottonwood Cove Marina | Resort picture

After a few days puttering round city, I took time to go out on a desert freeway, after which to take a pleasant if slender two-lane all the way down to Cottonwood Cove, an “off-the-grid” family-oriented resort (motel and campground) and boat launch on Lake Mohave, which is above Davis Dam (aka Bullhead Dam) on the Colorado River. 

Cottonwood Cove is on Lake Mead Nationwide Recreation Space property administered by the Nationwide Park Service. The banks of the Colorado River alongside the world was once lined with cottonwood bushes, thus the title of the cove, however through the gold- and silver-mining period, the bushes have been minimize down for gasoline for the steamships that carried bullion to processing vegetation.

The highway all the way down to Cottonwood Cove is downhill for a number of miles and offered a spot to discover the handbook mode of the Avalon TRD’s 8-speed computerized gearbox as I toggled amongst 2nd, third and 4th somewhat than use the brakes to remain throughout the posted pace restrict. 

On the freeway, the place the pace restrict was 75 mph — however the Avalon TRD actually most popular 76 — the handbook mode offered anyplace from 500 to 1,000 extra rpm per gear to boost things like passing. Nonetheless, even left in computerized mode, the gearbox responded instantly to adjustments in stress on the accelerator pedal.

Steering additionally was instantly responsive, and the automotive handles curves uncharacteristically nicely for a automobile of its measurement. I’d rated the Avalon TRD as road-trip prepared, with one proviso: The fastback architectural design of the Avalon limits the scale of the trunk lid and opening. You received’t match a big sutcase or a big-screen TV field by means of that gap, however there’s cavernous room for no matter else you may want for a week-long highway journey. 

The automotive’s inside is also trip-ready, each comfy and environment friendly. The outside colour scheme flows into the cabin with black leather-and-suede-like seats with pink trim. The ground mats even have pink trim, and the seat belts are pink as nicely, identical to in some high-end unique sports activities vehicles. 

As you’ll anticipate, the entrance seats are heated and ventilated with energy adjustment, together with lumbar. As if the usual audio system isn’t fairly sufficient, the Avalon TRD I drove was geared up with an non-compulsory JBL/Clari-Fi premium system with 14 audio system and “Dynamic Navigation.”

Oh, and naturally, the automotive has a full array of Toyota Security Sense driver-assist applied sciences.

Whereas the switchgear on the dashboard and steering wheel appear busy to my eyes, there’s an enormous (9-inch) touch-screen show that appears to make lots of these different controls redundant.

Truly, the busy sprint show is in regards to the extent of my adverse feedback about this pleasantly shocking sedan. Seems, nevertheless, Andy Reid disagrees. Our East Coast editor additionally spent a latest week in an Avalon TRD and he was much less enthusiastic.

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