While most would argue that the ultimate mid-life crisis car is the C5 Corvette, we would argue that the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD fits the bill much better. Why? Because its comfortable and sophisticated nature says “I’m an adult,” while it’s aggressive body kit, black wheels, and slightly lowered stance says “but I still know how to party.”
And that’s the inherent conundrum of the Toyota Avalon TRD. It’s like Johnny Depp on a good day, in that it’s subdued and quiet on the inside, but wild and full of flare on the outside. That look might work for the mysterious actor, but it’s a little weird for a full-size sedan.
The 2020 Avalon TRD might be trying too hard
Don’t get us wrong, we like the 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD, so much so that we spent the past few days putting it through its paces on windy canyon roads and over some long highway stretches to get a good idea of why Toyota would dress up an Avalon this way and we came away impressed. To be fair, Toyota did state that the TRD version is for the “driver who wants even more aggressive road grip,” so we concentrated on the fact that the TRD package is also built for performance as opposed to being solely an appearance package.
Believe it or not, it works pretty well in that regard. As far as performance, we were utterly surprised when the car carved through corners with confidence at highway speeds, especially since this is a 3,600-pound car that’s meant more for errand-duty than spirited driving. The Avalon’s steering felt more direct than any other Toyota product we have tested and it only had a slightly numb on-center feel.
Suspension wise, the Avalon TRD felt compliant over road imperfections and speed bumps, which is great for the daily drive, but we could also sense that there was extra care taken in tuning out the body roll as the car didn’t wallow under hard cornering. Toyota says that Avalon TRD was “enhanced” with stiffer springs and stabilizer bars to make it 44 percent stiffer upfront and 67 percent in the rear, and they weren’t joking. Also, the TRD-tuned exhaust made the car’s V6 sound pretty lively. But again, this is the “Toyota Racing Development” version that’s meant to get your blood pumping and it kind of does from driving standpoint, so we’ll give it that. But from an aesthetic standpoint, we still think it might be trying too hard.
The Toyota Avalon TRD’s looks are for a specific crowd
While we can agree that the TRD body kit and 19-inch black wheels give the Avalon a bolder and more-aggressive appeal, it’s tough to think of what kind of audience would gravitate toward such a look. Our tester was priced at around $46,000, so the younger millennial types most likely can’t afford it, but its outlandish looks could also scare off more mature buyers in the market for an affordable luxury car.
In that case, we could only come to the conclusion that the Toyota Avalon TRD’s striking aesthetics could be fitting for anyone that wants to feel the lavishness of the flagship sedan while making a statement with its gaudy TRD persona. It’s for someone that wants to feel alive even though they’re actually boring. You know, like someone having a mid-life crisis. But again, there’s more to it than just that, so we’ll drive it some more and report our findings soon.