The manual gear shifter isn't the only stick that's been disappearing from automobiles. With the market-wide adoption of the electronic parking brake, manual handbrakes have largely become part of history, as well. Toyota recently revived the handbrake, however, in an unexpected custom car built to drift – or, more accurately, slide.
Toyota team member and paralympic track and field athlete Jarryd Wallace wanted to create a surprise experience for his dad Jeff Wallace for Father's Day. Wallace settled on bringing pops to the track and sending him out for a hot lap with drifting specialist Ken Gushi. In an interesting twist, the chosen car was not a rear-wheel drive Supra or 86. Instead, it was a front-wheel drive Avalon TRD.
The Avalon in the video is a unique build. Typically, next to the automatic shifter, there are two cup holders, but in this Avalon, there is a custom handbrake. With Gushi's experience, the Avalon was sliding around the pavement like a puppy on an ice rink.
The 2020 Avalon TRD, the first time the near-luxury sedan has been given the Toyota Racing Development treatment, received numerous upgrades from the base car with a focus on handling characteristics and driving dynamics. The vehicle has been slightly lowered, and the underbody braces have been bolstered. It also has sport-tuned shock absorbers and lighter 19-inch wheels. Further grunt was added with a cat-back exhaust.
The one major area the Avalon TRD was not changed was under the hood. The 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, which pairs with an eight-speed transmission, is available on the XLE and XSE models and was carried over untouched. Sport mode and paddle shifters add a slight bit of fun, though.
The handbrake will not be available as a consumer option, but it was fun to see what the Avalon could do when equipped with one. The 2020 Avalon TRD will be available August 2019, while the Camry TRD will be on sale September 2019.