The 2024 Toyota Crown May Just Be the World’s Greatest Luxury Car

My friend and former colleague Chris Rosales once said, “The world’s greatest luxury car right now is a fully loaded Honda Accord.” As insane as that might sound on its face, he is right. However, I’d like to amend that with a similar-spirited alternative: The world’s greatest luxury car right now is the 2024 Toyota Crown.

Let me explain.

The Basics

In Toyota’s sedan hierarchy, the Crown sits above the midsize Camry but isn’t actually bigger than the Camry. Not by much, anyway. The Crown is an inch longer between the wheels, a couple of inches longer overall depending on trim, four inches taller in overall height, but exactly the same in width, and—despite what the crossover-style plastic fender cladding might suggest—a mere 0.1 inches higher in terms of ground clearance. Where it does differentiate itself from Toyota’s bread-and-butter sedan, then, is in its style and content.

Style-wise, the Crown comes off as weird but in a cool way. The liftback proportions and two-tone color scheme set it apart from more pedestrian family sedans while luxury car-aping details mark it as a car that will likely be looked back upon as emblematically 2020s. Stuff like the floating D-pillar, unibrow taillight bar, and massive grille. Speaking of massive, those 21-inch wheels are the biggest to ever come on a Toyota sedan from the factory and indeed look gigantic in person, giving the whole thing a vaguely off-roadable look especially when paired with knobby winter tires and blacked-out, SUV-style fenders.

Where I truly fell in like with the Crown, however, was inside. I love the shapes that make up this interior. Everything looks upright, purposeful, and dignified. Nothing is too jagged or blocky in the name of 8-bit retro, and nothing is too swoopy for the sake of being swoopy. Everything is purposeful, mature, and stupid easy to make sense of. The bronze trim and seat piping in this Platinum trim, however, give it just a touch of panache.

Innate vs Ornate Luxury

Ease of use became a theme with this car. Everything you’d want to be a button is a button. Everything you’d want to be a knob is a knob. Everything you’d want to be lit up at night is lit up at night. Everything is clear, everything is visible, everything is uncomplicated. Even the screens that are there—12.3 inches in the center—are adequately big, adequately sharp, and adequately responsive but never overwhelming.

How many so-called luxury cars today can claim all of that? If we’re being frank: none of them. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I settled into a new vehicle from a luxury manufacturer and didn’t encounter at least one user interface item that would not have been easier to use if it was less “fancy” (read: photographed worse in a brochure). Way too many of ’em are getting way too comfortable relegating HVAC controls to a glossy touch panel (or worse, a menu within the infotainment touchscreen) and others are still out here unsuccessfully trying to reinvent the volume knob. Meanwhile, others are putting touch-sensitive controls on the goddamn steering wheel, a move that demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of why steering wheel controls exist in the first place.

To borrow a phrase from the youths that I would normally never use, all of these things give me the ick. If you define luxury by “lack of ick,” the 2024 Toyota Crown is the greatest luxury car in the world.

Chris Tsui

But even by a more traditional definition, the Crown is plenty luxurious. The seats are soft and comfortable, as is the ride. The rear seats are reasonably spacious and have their own vents, USB-C ports, and heating. A big pano roof makes the space airy and pleasant, and the 11-speaker JBL sound system is nice and clear. To discerning listeners, it will never compare to, say, the Bowers & Wilkins system in a Volvo, but something tells me if Toyota simply slapped those same Bowers logos on this system, a whole lot of people would never bat an ear.

Another special shoutout needs to go to this car’s wireless charger because this once-tech-averse company may just be the only automaker out there who knows how to do wireless phone chargers. Your device sits upright in a cubby and is secured in place by two of those springy things much like your cup would be in a cupholder. There’s no sliding around to speak of, your phone is secured out of sight (but not too out of sight, ya know?), the thing actually charges, nothing overheats, and wireless Apple CarPlay worked every time. Perfection.

On the Road

As nice as this car is as an item to interact with and be inside, it’s a similar story once you get it out onto the road. The Toyota Crown is smooth, easy, comfortable, and stress-free motoring. It steers and brakes with a light, fussless responsiveness with little to no adjustment period. The 340-horsepower Hybrid Max powertrain is certifiably speedy but never in an overly aggressive way. Zero to 60 mph happens in 5.7 seconds—just as quick as the $70,000 electric BMW that is the i5 eDrive40—and feels like just the right amount of pace for an everyday commuter. In spite of the big 21-inch wheels, the Crown rides great even over big bumps, and I suspect things become even cushier with the smaller 19-inch wheel option.

Chris Tsui

Outward visibility is decent and despite the marginal increase in ground clearance over the Camry on paper, you do seem to sit higher compared to a normal sedan. It is about as easy to get in and out of as a compact crossover (i.e. you walk into it rather than climbing down) while foregoing the unimaginative pleb image that comes with actually driving a compact crossover. It’s all quite satisfying.

If I have to point out flaws, the button that lets you open the trunk from the outside is tiny and hard to find (ick), observed fuel economy of 26 mpg fell short of official EPA figures, and for whatever reason, the Japanese version of this car looks way cooler on the outside.

Chris Tsui

Good Deal

Another common point against the Crown’s case is, of course, its value proposition or lack thereof. In regular hybrid form, it starts at $41,445—$3,500 more than the most expensive trim of Camry—while a Platinum Hybrid Max model like the one tested starts at $54,465. This is objectively a lot of money for a sedan that shares a badge with a Camry but is hardly bigger than a Camry. At the same time, though, I get it. It feels just that bit more substantial than Toyota’s more common midsize—you sit higher, the interior design is that much more upscale, and until/unless Toyota announces it is throwing the Hybrid Max powertrain in that new one, there ain’t no Camrys making 340 hp.

You buy the Crown not because it is a good deal, but because you’re the kind of person who could probably afford to get an E-Class (twice, paid cash) but isn’t thrilled with what Mercedes is doing these days UX-wise (and I don’t blame you). You buy the Crown not because it is a good deal, but because you’re the kind of person who simply wants the nicest sedan with a Toyota badge and Toyota reliability, and money is frankly kind of secondary. You buy the Crown not because it is a “good deal,” but because you’re the kind of person who understands that true value lies in the opportunity cost saved from never having to visit a mechanic outside of routine maintenance.

Chris Tsui

Define Luxury

The Toyota Crown is to luxury, then, what the Kia Stinger (RIP) was to sport. Damningly expensive, weirdly shaped sedans from “budget” brands that shouldn’t make sense on paper but make absolute sense in execution. Like the Stinger, it is one of those cars you really have to drive and experience in person to truly appreciate. And like the Stinger, that means it’ll probably be discontinued in a few years due to low sales because you fucking people insist on buying cars mostly based on Walmart-mentality spec sheet comparisons, badge-based public perception, and what you think a car will do for you in theory rather than how one will actually make you feel and enrich your life in practice.

Look, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the Audis, Benzes, BMWs, and Lexus of the world. There are things to be said about the pin-sharp handling of a good Bimmer, or the vault-like build quality of a top-shelf Lexus, or the unspoken social implications of rolling up to the party with a three-pointed star.

But if I am honest with myself, the things that make me happiest these days—and, transitively, the most luxurious things in life—are things that Just Work. Things that do not force me to think more than I have to. Things that let me adjust the temperature and skip to the next track without taking my eyes off the road. Things I can take to the gas station and not have to worry about which grade to use (Crown runs perfectly fine on 87) or indeed deal with the unspoken social implications of rolling up to a party with a three-pointed star.

And by that measure, the 2024 Toyota Crown is one of the most luxurious cars I’ve driven in a very long time.

2024 Toyota Crown SpecsHybrid (XLE, Limited)Hybrid Max (Platinum)
Base Price (Canadian-spec as tested)$41,445$54,465 ($64,533 CAD)
Powertrain2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid | continuously variable automatic | on-demand all-wheel drive2.4-liter turbo-four hybrid | 6-speed automatic | full-time all-wheel drive
TorqueTBD400 lb-ft
Seating Capacity55
Curb Weight3,980 pounds4,343 pounds
Cargo Volume15.2 cubic feet15.2 cubic feet
0-60 mph7.6 seconds5.7 seconds
EPA Fuel Economy42 mpg city | 41 highway | 41 combined29 mpg city | 32 highway | 30 combined
Quick TakeToday’s “luxury” cars are filled to the brim with flashy complication. The Crown, fortunately, is not.<<

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