Early Friday morning, Toyota revealed the 2023 Crown, an elevated sedan with a hybrid powertrain and several available two-tone paint schemes. In an age where four-door cars have dramatically fallen out of favor and it’s becoming increasingly apparent pure electric vehicles are the future, this new Crown seems a little behind the times. Beneath the surface, however, there’s a lot to like about this Toyota, even if it’s not necessarily on trend.
Retro in name only
The Crown is a historically significant nameplate for Toyota, just like the 3 Series is to BMW, the Mustang to Ford, or the Defender to Land Rover. Debuting in 1955 as the Toyopet Crown, it was the Japanese automaker’s first mass-produced vehicle. It was even offered in the United States starting in 1958, though it was pulled from the market in 1972. Even though it hasn’t been sold in ‘Murica for decades, the Crown has been in production for a whopping 15 generations, sold in a host of markets around the world. Curiously, there’s a common thread running through Toyota’s passenger car lineup; drawing inspiration from this long-running vehicle, the Corolla and Camry names are both references to crowns.
History lesson aside, this new four-door car is the latest vehicle to feature TNGA-K underpinnings, a versatile platform that supports a host of larger Toyota models including the outgoing Avalon sedan as well as the Highlander SUV and Sienna minivan. This architecture provides plenty of refinement and safety, plus respectable road manners. Dimensionally, the Crown is 194 inches long, 60.6 inches high and rolls on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. That means this elevated sedan has the same hub-to-hub span as the Highlander, though it’s about 4.1 inches taller than the outgoing Avalon. With struts up front and a multilink rear suspension, the Crown should be comfortable and drive well for what it is.
Two hybrid powertrains to choose from
When it goes on sale later this year, the Crown will be offered in three trim levels and with two powertrains. XLE is the base grade, Limited will likely sell in the largest volume and Platinum is for fancy folks. On the lower two trims, 19-inch wheels are standard, though 21s are available (standard on the Platinum model).
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Two hybrid drivetrains are available in the Crown, though it is not offered as a plug-in or with a fully electric powertrain, at least not yet. XLE and Limited models feature a fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid System that’s centered around a familiar 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. With an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and a new, high-output, bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery pack, this powertrain is estimated to return 38 miles per gallon. Horsepower and torque figures have not been shared, but with standard electronic all-wheel drive — basically a separate motor powering the rear wheels as needed — the Crown should have at least 245 horsepower, which is what the Toyota Sienna minivan’s very similar drivetrain provides. Front-to-rear, that all-wheel-drive system can vary its torque distribution, sending 100% of that twisty goodness to just the front wheels or up to 80% to the rears.
In comparison, the Platinum model features an exclusive Hybrid Max system that delivers 340 net hp. This setup includes a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine and a six-speed automatic transmission fitted with a multi-plate wet clutch. Peak torque from this drivetrain should arrive between 2,000 and 3,000 RPM, with a front-mounted electric motor helping deliver extra oomph. The all-wheel-drive-enabling rear e-axle features a high-output motor that’s water cooled. As for power distribution, up to 70% of the powertrain’s toque can be routed to the front wheels or 80% to the rears. Toyota estimates this setup will return 28 MPG combined, which is not particularly impressive.
Setting this car apart from more traditional sedans is its elevated ride height. According to Toyota, this lifted stance is similar to what you’d get with a crossover utility vehicle, meaning the seats should be a good height above the ground.
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Front and center, the new Crown’s face looks like the prow of other recent Toyotas. There’s a large, grille-like area filled in with a repeating pattern of small triangles. Above that are angular headlights flanking a small, slit-like grille.
This sedan’s profile is unusually clean and smooth, especially for a Toyota. The automaker’s designs tend to incorporate hard lines and creases instead of sleek, flowing forms. The Crown’s side view mirrors reside in door-mounted pods and there’s a bit of contrasting trim near the bottom of those swing panels. With its arcing roofline and lengthy rear overhang, the new Crown’s profile resembles the long-gone Honda Crosstour and closely related Acura ZDX.
Rounding out the Crown’s exterior, its rear end looks vaguely similar to the Lucid Air’s, though the trunk lid cut lines are essentially vertical rather than extending into the back fenders. Adding some visual pizazz, this Toyota is available with several bi-tone paint jobs. Oxygen White, Heavy Metal and Super Sonic Red can all be paired with black, which extends from the hood to the rear bumper. Another hue called Bronze Age is only offered as a bi-tone option.
A promising interior
The Crown’s cabin looks spacious and comfortable. The dashboard is classy and there’s plenty of familiar switches and controls from other Toyota vehicles. Those that are long of leg should appreciate the back seat, which appears to offer miles of legroom. Regardless of how tall you are, the Crown’s standard acoustic glass should help improve your inner peace by keeping the interior nice and quiet.
As for amenities, the base XLE car comes standard with heated, eight-way power-adjustable front seats covered in a Softex imitation leather material. A 12.3-inch touchscreen is included, too, as is a six-speaker sound system.
Stepping up the ladder, Limited grade Crowns gain multibeam LED headlamps, a fixed panoramic moonroof and an 11-speaker audio system. Leather furnishings are included, as is front-seat ventilation and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The available tech package gives drivers 21-inch wheels, an ever-handy 360-degree camera system and a digital key (subscription required).
Finally, the highfalutin Platinum model includes basically everything the Limited grade comes with but throws that Hybrid Max powertrain into the mix as well as an Adaptive Variable Suspension system and a smart parking function that can automatically park the vehicle, controlling the steering, gear selection, acceleration and braking. This system is capable enough to navigate both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces.
Tech this out!
All Crown models will come with Toyota’s latest infotainment system that’s splashed across a 12.3-inch touchscreen. This multimedia array should perform well, though it also supports over-the-air updates, cloud-based navigation with Google point-of-interest data and even a digital assistant, one that responds when you shout “Hey, Toyota!” Naturally, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported; both smartphone-mirroring systems can connect wirelessly.
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A nifty digital key comes standard on the Platinum model, though it’s available on the Limited grade in the technology package. Through the Toyota app, this amenity allows you to remotely lock, unlock or start the vehicle using your supported smartphone. You can also share virtual keys with friends and family members. Unfortunately, a Remote Connect subscription is required to access all this functionality, but that’s pretty standard these days, so Toyota is not an outlier charging for this.
Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, the automaker’s suite of advanced driver aids, is standard on the Crown. This includes amenities like a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection that can recognize motorcyclists and even guardrails, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automatic high beams and a rear seat reminder system. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and hill start assist should all be standard as well.
Pricing and availability
The 2023 Crown looks like a promising new vehicle. The styling is sharp, interior tastefully designed and plenty of tech comes standard. It’s still unusual Toyota made this product a sedan and that it’s only available with a hybrid drivetrain, but as we often say here at EV Pulse, electric vehicles offer huge benefits and they are the future, even if they’re still not ideal for all drivers in every situation. Fuel-sipping hybrids like the Crown provide an important steppingstone between the internal combustion-powered past and a cleaner, all-electric future.
Pricing for the 2023 Toyota Crown has not been announced yet, though this information should be made available closer to the car’s on-sale date. This elevated sedan is expected to arrive at dealerships in the fall.