Competes with: Acura RLX, Chrysler 300, Lexus ES, Nissan Maxima
Looks like: The 2020 Avalon, possibly with an AWD badge
Powertrain: 2.5-liter four-cylinder (205 horsepower, 185 pounds-feet of torque), 3.5-liter V-6 (301 hp, 267 pounds-feet) or hybrid system with 2.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motors with lithium-ion battery pack (215 system hp); eight-speed automatic (gas versions) or continuously variable automatic (hybrid) transmission; front- or newly available all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: September
Toyota’s flagship Avalon sedan is getting all-wheel drive for the 2021 model year — but it’s limiting that system to tamer, four-cylinder gas-engine models rather than those using the more powerful V-6, which includes the “sure, why not?” Avalon TRD. Other changes are mostly minor, as the Avalon becomes the latest Toyota to add Android Auto smartphone connectivity, features a new Nightshade Edition for the XSE, and updates exterior and interior colors.
Related: Toyota Seeks More Traction for Sedans With All-Wheel-Drive Camry and Avalon
Changes to the Avalon’s exterior are mostly cosmetic, with the 2020 TRD model’s formerly exclusive Supersonic Red paint now available on the rest of the Avalon lineup. TRD-exclusive paint colors for 2021 are Windchill Pearl or the new Ice Edge, both of which are available with black-painted roofs for a sportier look.
The new XSE Nightshade Edition gets additional black accents from the standard XSE model, including black-painted 19-inch wheels and black window trim, door handles and “shark fin” antenna. Nightshade Edition models are only available in Midnight Black Metallic, Wind Chill Pearl or Celestial Silver Metallic paint colors.
Beyond the welcome addition of Android Auto, interior changes focus on upholstery color. A Cognac-with-black choice is available in the XSE Hybrid and Touring models; the Limited model swaps out beige leather for black. One great thing that didn’t change is the roominess of the Avalon’s interior, which Toyota says isn’t impacted by the addition of the available AWD system.
Engine and Transmission
The engine and transmission choices all carry over from 2020, but for 2021, the Avalon XLE and Limited can be had with AWD. What buyers won’t be able to do, however, is pair that AWD with the Avalon’s V-6 engine or hybrid powertrain — it can only be had with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine.
Toyota estimates that the AWD Avalon will return fuel economy figures of 25/34/28 mpg city/highway/combined, but official EPA figures are not yet out.
Avalon’s standard safety features for 2021 still include Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite, which includes forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and automatic high beams. Available safety technology includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors with reverse automatic braking, and a bird’s-eye camera display.
The 2021 Toyota Avalon begins production in August and should arrive on dealership lots in September, according to Toyota.
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