With the task of serving as Toyota’s flagship sedan, while also appealing to its long-established customer base, the 2021 Avalon straddles the line between staid and exciting with a broad range of trims. For those wanting to waft along in comfort, the standard XLE or Limited provide V-6 power, a smooth ride, and a spacious cabin. If you’re looking for a little more spice with your commute, the sporty XSE trim or the zestier TRD model could fill that niche. Are you a hypermiling fuel-scrooge? There’s a hybrid powertrain available, too, which delivered an impressive 43 mpg in our real-world testing. No matter which one you choose, the Avalon is well-equipped and is surprisingly modern, offering plentiful standard driver-assistance technology. The Avalon has few rivals—the large sedan segment is collapsing as more new-car buyers opt for SUVs—but it’s one of the best of its breed.
What’s New for 2021?
Only a few changes are in store for Toyota’s full-size sedan this year. All-wheel drive makes it to the Avalon lineup for 2021, and it’s optional on the XLE and Limited trims. Toyota is also introducing a Nightshade Edition on the sporty XSE trim, which adds black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels. Elsewhere, the TRD model can be had with summer tires from the factory, the hybrid model receives a new lithium-ion battery pack that takes up less space, and Android Auto finally joins the roster of infotainment features.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Given its generous list of standard features, we imagine the Avalon’s base XLE trim has what it takes to keep a wide range of car shoppers happy. The XLE comes with exterior features such as heated power-adjustable side mirrors and LED headlights. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, along with heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. All Avalon sedans come with tech features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio, as well as driver-assistance amenities, such as blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Toyota Avalon gives buyers a choice of two powertrains: one that sips gas exclusively and another that uses a fuel-efficient hybrid setup. A 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque is standard. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels; XLE and Limited models offer optional all-wheel drive, but those models come with a 202-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The V-6 hustles the Avalon from to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, according to our testing. Going with the 2.5-liter four and all-wheel drive drops the zero-to-60-mph time to a sluggish 7.7 seconds and the four-cylinder’s coarse nature doesn’t match the car’s otherwise luxurious nature. Trim levels with hybrid in their nomenclature come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors. This setup provides a net output of 215 horsepower, and it’s paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that powers the front wheels. Many shoppers who seek out large cars like the Avalon prioritize comfort, and Toyota’s big sedan doesn’t disappoint in this area. In our tests, it delivered well-mannered handling that did an admirable job of keeping bumps and jolts out of the cabin. All-wheel drive isn’t available with the Avalon.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With the gas-only 2020 Avalon, the EPA estimates mileage of up to 22/32 mpg city/highway. In our highway fuel-economy testing, we recorded 34 mpg with both the V-6 and the four-cylinder with all-wheel drive. The Avalon hybrid achieves EPA-estimated mileage of up to 43/44 mpg. While testing one of these models, we observed fuel economy of 43 mpg in highway driving.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
When it comes to the overall look of the cabin, the current Avalon represents a big step up relative to models from previous generations. A broad waterfall-style center stack separates the driver and front passenger, and it shows off handsome switchgear and an easy-to-reach touchscreen. The plastics used throughout the cabin are nicely grained, and the back seat provides lots of room for tall passengers to stretch their legs. In addition, there’s a cavernous trunk with 16 cubic feet of cargo space. Standard folding rear seats with a 60/40 split allow you to easily expand this capacity when toting large items. In our testing of the non-hybrid version, we fit seven carry-on suitcases in the trunk and 18 with the back seats folded. The hybrid we tested back in 2019 used the old, larger battery pack which intruded into the trunk and limited cargo space. That car fit fewer suitcases (six with the rear seats in use and 17 with them folded), but Toyota says the new lithium-ion battery is smaller and preserves all of the Avalon’s trunk space.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Avalon’s base-model XLE trim comes with amenities such as an eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. A 9.0-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Scout GPS Link navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The list of optional upgrades includes a 14-speaker JBL sound system, an integrated navigation system, and wireless device charging.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Avalon earned a perfect five out of five stars overall. The Avalon also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ award, earning the highest possible score of Good in all crashworthiness measures. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning system with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
While the rival Kia Cadenza offers longer warranty coverage, the Avalon’s two years of complimentary maintenance is a standout.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles
More Features and Specs