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The 2020 Toyota Avalon is a near-luxury sedan. / Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy

In legend, Avalon was a magic island, known as a land of healing, where King Arthur convalesced after a major battle.

Well, the Toyota Avalon may not heal your ailments but it is certainly soothing.

Redesigned for 2019, the 2020 Avalon carries on with only minor changes, the chief of which is the addition of a sport-tuned TRD model. Our tester, though, is a built-for-comfort Limited model with a luxurious interior trimmed in Cognac leather.

The Avalon is part of an ever-shrinking auto segment — the full-size sedan. Most people who need a big car have up-sized to an SUV by now. Most SUV owners tell us that seating height is one of the main reasons they eschew lower-to-the-road sedans. And indeed, climbing into an Avalon after weeks driving SUVs and trucks feels like resetting muscle memories at a lower altitude.

Avalons are available locally at Capital Toyota in Chattanooga, Toyota of Cleveland and North Georgia Toyota in Dalton, Ga. Late this week the each dealership had 4-to-8 2020 Avalons in digital inventory.

FAST FACTS

* Model: 2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

* Exterior color: Harbor Gray Metallic

* Interior color: Cognac

* Engine: 3.5-liter, six-cylinder

* Horsepower: 301

* Transmission: 8-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 31 mpg highway, 22 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Capital Toyota, Toyota of Cleveland, North Georgia Toyota

* Price (as tested): $44,180

 

WHAT IS IT?

The Toyota Avalon is a five-passenger, full-size sedan that comes with two engine options. Our tester, a Limited model, is equipped with a 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine. Also available is a hybrid power-train with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine combined with two electric motors.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The most economical trim level, the XLE, starts at $35,875. A Limited trim Avalon, such as our tester, has a base price of $42,175, and the Hybrid Limited starts at $43,300. Our tester rings up at $44,180 after adding a $930 delivery fee and a $1,150 advanced-safety option package.

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The interior of the 2020 Toyota Avalon has a modern vibe. / Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy

 

WHAT WE LIKED

The 2019 redesign made the Avalon a much more stylish ride than before. The black-out grille, a "spindle" design in Toyota parlance, envelops the front of the car. The Lexus-like interior is sumptuous. The seats are wide and feel great on long trips. The 300-horsepower engine is stout and fuel economy is reasonable at 31 mpg highway. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room. The price premium for the silky and efficient hybrid version is just over $1,000.

 

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Avalon can be a little pricey in higher trims, costing almost as much as a fully loaded, three-row Highlander SUV. Selection at most Toyota stores is limited, too, due to lower sales volume.

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Our 2020 Toyota Avalon test car has an MSRP of $44,180. / Staff Photo by Mark Kennedy

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

In a week of commuter driving, the Avalon was relaxing to drive. As a boulevard cruiser, it has few peers in the near-luxury class.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Customers looking for luxury sedans would do well to give the Avalon a try. For a few thousand dollars less than the luxury brands, buyers may find comparable comfort and value.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.


View other Test Drive stories by Mark Kennedy



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