Auto Shows: The Platypus Toyota Avalon TRD Pro Concept Is a Racetrack Beast - - PressFrom - US
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Auto Shows The Platypus Toyota Avalon TRD Pro Concept Is a Racetrack Beast

21:55  05 november  2019
21:55  05 november  2019 Source:   motortrend.com

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When we first drove the Toyota Avalon TRD a couple months ago, we called it the least likely new member of the Toyota Racing Development family. But how about TRD Pro?

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The TRD Pro designation is held only by Toyota trucks and SUVs at the moment—Toyota builds TRD Pro versions of the Sequoia, Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner—but for the 2019 SEMA Show, the Japanese automaker is experimenting with what the TRD Pro line could mean for the cars in its lineup. Alongside a handful of impressive Supra builds, Toyota gave us an early look at its newest unlikely track monster: the Avalon TRD Pro concept.

A Different Kind of TRD Pro

The existing TRD Pro models are differentiated from their peers with specially tuned Fox shocks, big skidplates, nubby tires, and clever off-road drive modes. When Dan (pronounced Don) Gardner and the team at Dan Gardner Spec were approached about developing an Avalon TRD Pro, they knew the Avalon would require a very different kind of modification.

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a person riding on the back of a car© Motor Trend Staff

You might recognize Dan Gardner's name from his shop's previous work on Toyota products for SEMA. In 2015 they built a stripped, caged, front-drive Toyota Sienna, and in 2017 they created a 600-hp manual-transmission C-HR. These folks have real experience setting up race cars, and they don't mess around.

Although a lot of SEMA Show cars are just that (all show), Gardner estimates the Avalon TRD Pro concept has completed more than 500 laps at numerous racetracks over the course of its development. After all the changes the DG-Spec team made to this car and the tuning they did on track, the modified Dadmobile achieved a 1-minute, 25.3-second lap on the Streets of Willow track at Willow Springs International Raceway—and the team barely touched the Avalon's 301-hp V-6. A little context for that lap: It's within a second of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S and quicker than any of the four entrants in our super hot hatch comparison test.

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a car parked on the side of a road: 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Pro Concept 20© Motor Trend Staff 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Pro Concept 20

If we're comparing the concept to another big sedan, it's 1.6 seconds faster around Streets of Willow than the 707-hp Dodge Charger Hellcat. Mighty. We spoke with Gardner at Toyota's SEMA preview event to find out exactly what the team had to do to make this Avalon so quick.

Not Your Grandpa's Avalon

According to Gardner, "The heart of this car is the custom differential," which DG-Spec developed with Japanese race shop OS Giken. Power is up to 330 hp thanks to an intake and exhaust, and the new diff helps ensure that every single horse worth of power makes it to the pavement. "That thing makes this car multiple seconds a lap faster at any track," Gardner says.

But even a trick differential wouldn't help much if they retained the Avalon's stock all-season tires. Out go the all-seasons, replaced by 275-section Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3Rs—the tire Goodyear developed for the track-special Camaro ZL1 1LE. DG-Spec also swapped the wheels for 18x9-inch Lacks rollers with full carbon-fiber barrels that save 15 pounds of unsprung mass per corner.

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Gardner tries to use as many original Toyota parts as possible in his builds, and the Avalon TRD Pro contains parts from five Toyota models. It's not unlike a duck-billed, beaver-tailed platypus of the automotive world, if the platypus were a much faster swimmer.

Gardner's Avalon uses a transmission oil cooler straight off the Tundra pickup, lightweight aluminum uprights form the RAV4, modified Prius suspension uppers for adjustable camber arms, and camber plates from an Australian-market Celica. Everything else is fully custom or all Avalon. A platypus, indeed.

Suspension pieces have been swapped out for easily adjustable remote reservoir struts up front and two-way inverted-mount shocks out back. A 1.25-inch anti-roll bar stiffens up the rear, and Gardner tells us the Avalon TRD Pro can be set up as quite the drifter despite its front-drive roots. Stoptech front brakes and Hawk racing pads all around help limit brake fade and haul the Avalon down from triple-digit speeds.

a close up of a helmet© Motor Trend Staff

Lighter suspension components, wheels, and tires plus a custom carbon-fiber hood add up to some serious weight savings. Without modifying the interior and still retaining air conditioning, infotainment, and active safety features, the Avalon TRD Pro is 150 pounds lighter than what you could buy in the showroom.

Speaking of the showroom, any chance any of this will make it to production? Gardner says that if there's enough demand, they could make it happen. He tells us that anything that fits on this car would also fit on the Camry, which means there are more than half a million cars sold every year that could benefit from these parts. Here's hoping there's enough demand.

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