The Toyota Crown Returns to the States as an SUV

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

Even though the Crown was the first Japanese car to enter the U.S. market back in 1958, the nameplate isn’t one that most Americans are familiar with today. That is going to change quickly, as the automaker has just unveiled the new 2023 Toyota Crown, representing the first example bound for the States since 1972, now with two electrified powertrains, standard all-wheel drive, and a funky SUV ride height.

The Toyota Crown has always traditionally slotted into the executive sedan segment. That said, global sales reports are quick to highlight that the majority of buyers aren’t interested in such a bodystyle these days. Toyota has decided to embrace the world’s ongoing SUV-obsession, transforming the well-storied Crown into a sort of sedan-shaped crossover. The bodywork looks more like a traditional sedan than a Toyota Venza, but the Crown rides up to four-inches higher than a new Camry, measuring in at 60.6-inches overall. That height is visually offset by the 194-inch overall length, which is just an inch shorter than the Highlander. The standard 19-inch wheels on XLE and Limited models also add to the visual mass, while Premium trim customers will have a pair of 21-inch wheels to choose from. It’s certainly a unique take on a sedan, and one that Toyota says helps them stand out in the segment. It has been a while since the Honda Crosstour left production, I suppose.

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

Styling choices aside, Toyota have made full use of the TNGA-K platform that underpins the Crown. Every Toyota Crown model will come with one of two hybrid powertrains, each of which come with a unique on-demand all-wheel drive system. (TNGA-K is the same modular architecture that Toyota uses for the Camry, the Avalon, the Venza, the RAV4, the Sienna, a few Lexus models, and the Highlander. As of last year in China, the Highlander is also sold as the Crown Kluger, a premonition of things to come.) XLE and Limited models come equipped with the fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid System, which pairs a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder with two electric motors. The powertrain comes exclusively mated to an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission. The Crown XLE and Limited models utilize the E-Four AWD system. The rear axle only kicks on when additional traction is needed, and the Crown’s updated system is capable of sending more power to the rear axle than other models. Toyota estimates fuel economy figures of 38 MPG with this setup. The THS powertrain also supports three individual drive modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. Should you wish to be extra fuel-conscious, the Crown can operate in a pure EV mode for short trips.

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

Opt for the range-topping Crown Premium, and you get a more intriguing hybrid powertrain, which now wears the familiar Hybrid Max moniker. The 2.5-liter is dropped in favor of a turbocharged 2.4-liter hybrid unit, which again comes paired with Toyota’s eAxle out back. The combined powertrain will deliver up to 340 hp, earning a new performance hybrid designation from Toyota. Premium models receive a more desirable six-speed automatic transmission, which will allow for manual control via a set of paddle shifters. Premium models route that power through the new E-Four Advanced AWD system, which can split front and rear drive forces between 70:30 and 20:80 as grip requires. Toyota says this should help the Crown more accurately mimic the driving characteristics of a traditional rear-drive sedan. The Hybrid Max powertrain should return manufacturer estimated fuel economy figures of 28 MPG. Three additional drive modes are also available for Hybrid Max-equipped vehicles: Sport+, Comfort, and Custom. Every 2023 Toyota Crown features a MacPherson-type strut front suspension setup, while a multi-link unit takes care of the rear. That said, Hybrid Max models are outfitted with Toyota's Adaptive Variable Suspension, complete with variable oil pressure shock absorbers for improved ride and handling.

Inside is where the Toyota Crown has to justify itself. The Crown has always been a luxury model in Toyota’s global lineup, typically the second most expensive of the brand’s sedans. Every 2023 Toyota Crown model will arrive with acoustic glass intended to block out road noise, while additional sound deadening is placed throughout the cabin. Toyota even went as far as to tune the suspension to try and eliminate some nasty frequencies from finding their way into the passenger compartment. Furthermore, every Toyota Crown will come equipped with heated 8-way power adjustable front seats. The XLE trim will see those seats trimmed in black Softex fabric, while Limited and Platinum trims gain ventilation functionality and leather upholstery. Limited and Premium set themselves apart again with a fixed panoramic roof and 11-speaker JL Audio system. All three trims come equipped with a 12.3-inch infotainment system. Other tech features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice commands via Toyota’s Drive Connect, and Over-the-Air capability. Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Monitoring.

The Toyota Crown XLE and Limited are available in five exterior colors: Black, Oxygen White, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Heavy Metal and Supersonic Red. The XLE can solely be had with a black interior though higher trim color options include black, black and chestnut and macadamia. The Premium is the first Toyota to offer bi-color exterior scheme: Oxygen White, Heavy Metal, Supersonic Red or Bronze Age can all be mated with a nose-to-tail black stripe. It’s an aggressive look, and one that we’ve usually seen reserved for big-money offerings like from Rolls-Royce.

Toyota has yet to provide pricing information for the upcoming Crown model. That said, the fact that the company lists the Crown as a 2023 model year product means we shouldn't have to wait much longer for all the specific details to roll out. Whether or not the sedan utility vehicle is a highpoint in Crown history will remain up to the American market.

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

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