The 2021 Toyota Avalon Just Embarrassed the 2021 Audi A6 on Consumer Reports

Luxury cars often catch more praise than they deserve. It’s almost like if there is any ambient praise just floating around, it will attach itself to a BMW or Cadillac only by default. Over time, the cars considered more normal, or middle class have slowly added some serious up-town swag. Case in point, Consumer Report gave the 2021 Toyota Avalon a shining review while the 2021 Audi A6 got a confusingly low score.

The 2021 Toyota Avalon came correct against the 2021 Audi A6

Consumer Reports piled on the compliments to the 2021 Avalon. The Avalon got an impressive 88/100 overall. This is a mix of safety, price, comfort, fuel economy, reliability, and road test. On the road test, CR found the Toyota to be “a sensible alternative to higher-priced luxury cars.” 

2021 Toyota Avalon Limited AWD front
2021 Toyota Avalon Limited AWD front | Toyota

The 2021 Avalon comes with a few engine options; 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid making 215 hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 205 hp, and even a 3.5-liter V6 making 301 hp. The 2.5-liter hybrid is the suggested engine option and the one that CR tested. Its power is delivered smoothly and quickly. 

Even though the Avalon is a sizeable sedan, the test found it snappy and agile. Body roll is said to be well contained, and even though the suspension is smooth and comfy, it stays firm enough to corner nice and flat. Although the hybrid 2.5-liter inline-four is the preferred choice, the V6 offers a clear boost in power that will likely make the car more fun for many drivers. 

How does the 2021 Audi A6 stack up

CR gave the Audi an overall score of 77/100, which really isn’t bad at all, but it is a far cry from the Avalon. The Audi A6 is known to be a luxurious mid-size sedan that blends comfort and sport. In the sports department, the A6 dog walks the Avalon. Audi offers a wide swath of engine options starting with the 261-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and ending with the badass 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 591 hp. Obviously, there is no comparison here, but that is about all the Audi clearly has over the Toyota. 

A blue 2021 Audi A6 on display with a white background
The 2021 Audi A6 | Photo via Audi

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The Audi is sharp, powerful, and quick. The power delivery from any of the engine options is clear and smooth from the jump. The steering is grounded and firm, which gives the driver confidence to use all that power. Also, for a sports sedan, fuel economy isn’t bad at 26 mpg. Of course, that figure doesn’t apply to the V8 model. 

The problem with Audi is reliability. This seems to be the thorn in most sports sedans and luxury sedans in general. This Achilles heel will take down any automotive giant on a Consumer Reports test. The Audi got a predicted reliability score of only 3 / 5. This is not great. 

As far as major mechanical issues are concerned, the A6 seems pretty secure, but the electronics seem to be a problem area for the German sedan. In fairness, the Avalon scored the same 3 / 5 on predicted reliability. 

So why did the Avalon score so much higher than the A6? 

Sometimes two very different models can be closer than they appear. Obviously, the Audi is fancy and sporty, but the Toyota is much sportier and fancier than we give it credit for. CR calls the Avalon’s interior a “spacious, richly furnished cabin with an upscale feel thanks to soft materials with intricate stitching and attractive open-pore wood trim…” They are both pretty fuel-efficient and practical. These aren’t that different, so why did CR rate the Avalon so much higher? 

Customers loved the Avalon and weren’t pleased with the Audi. Specifically, the two models’ customers were asked about the value to price, and the Avalon scored a 5 / 5. The Audi, on the other hand, got a brutal 3 / 5. Only 43 percent of Audi buyers said they would do it again, and 63 percent of Avalon buyers would make the same choice. That is pretty damming. 

I assume the price is the real hang-up. The 2021 Avalon ranges from $35,975 – $43,400 whereas the Audi is going to run between $54,900 – $74,400. It’s hard to shrug off $20k for two cars that really are much closer than they appear on the surface.