2021 Toyota Avalon Borrows AWD System from the RAV4

Luxurious large sedan on top, rugged compact SUV underneath.

The Toyota Avalon has always been something of a stealthy, value-priced luxo-barge. But it's never been a vehicle with the means to confidently take on wet or slick conditions—until now. That's thanks to the new availability of all-wheel drive on this previously front-drive-only flagship sedan.

The addition of Toyota's Dynamic Torque Control AWD system promises to improve stability and confidence when driving through rain or snow. The Toyota Avalon AWD system can send up to 50 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels, balancing traction if the front wheels start to slip, or smoothing departures from a stop. Dynamic Torque Control has an electromagnetic coupling ahead of the rear axle, allowing it to engage or disengage as required by conditions, benefiting fuel economy.

While the standard, front-wheel-drive Avalon is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 301 hp, all-wheel-drive models get a different engine. It's a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 205 hp, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Why the big loss of power? As it turns out, the all-wheel-drive Avalon has plenty of SUV in it. Since the vehicle wasn't originally designed to work with all-wheel drive, Toyota engineers had to adapt it with other resources. Both the Avalon and RAV4 are built on Toyota's TNGA modular platform, so components were able to be shared between the two.

Underneath the Avalon's body structure are the RAV4's engine, transmission, transfer case, and rear differential. The RAV4's rear suspension was also modified for this application, resulting in a 5mm increase in ride height; off-roading is still not recommended in the all-whe el-drive Avalon.Regardless, the additional hardware had no negative effect on interior volume or trunk space, and weight should be similar to front-drive, V-6-powered variants. The RAV4's rear suspension was also modified for this application, resulting in a 5mm increase in ride height; off-roading is still not recommended in the all-wheel-drive Avalon.

All-wheel drive will be available as a standalone option on Avalon XLE and Limited trims, beginning in model-year 2021.

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