2025 Toyota Crown Signia First Drive Review: A Camry Wagon Masquerading as Royalty

The 2025 Toyota Crown Signia represents a momentous addition to the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Despite the slow death of wagons in America, here is an honest-to-goodness wagon that Toyota insists on calling an SUV for some reason. When Toyota revealed the four new models that would make up the Crown family in Japan, the car that would later become the Crown Signia in the U.S. was called the Crown Estate Type. As in, the Crown Wagon Type in freedom-ese. So, I was beside myself with excitement to drive a new flagship wagon from Toyota in 2024. Until I actually drove it, that is.

The Crown Signia is possibly one of the most anodyne vehicles Toyota makes right now. It’s harmless but also a bit underwhelming. It’s not like I was expecting a performance wagon here, but this is a member of the Crown family, so it needs something to hang its hat on other than a leather-trimmed cabin and a panoramic roof. 

Even though it should make for a compelling package thanks to its new exterior and interior design, as well as plenty of onboard tech and a hybrid powertrain, the Crown Signia just never managed to be all that compelling unless I relied on the constant use of one of its drive modes, which I’ll get to in a bit.  

All Crown Signia models will be powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid setup that combines a fuel-sipping engine with electric motors on the front and rear axles. The latest Toyota Hybrid System makes a combined 240 horsepower, 188 of which come from the gas-burning engine alone. Torque is 178 lb-ft not accounting for extra oomph from the electric motors. It all adds up to a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds, which isn’t slow on paper but hardly feels urgent out on the open road.

The Signia’s hybrid drivetrain is paired with an electronically-controlled CVT and the wagon—ahem, SUV—also features on-demand all-wheel drive from the electric motors. When the car detects a need for more traction, the rear-mounted motor sends power to the back wheels. The torque split of the Crown Signia can seamlessly go between 100:0 and 20:80 front-rear, meaning it should theoretically transition between the pull of a FWD vehicle and push of a rear-biased AWD system. 

In practice, though, there’s a lot of extra weight back there from the enclosed cargo area, which mutes any rear-bias in the Signia’s power delivery and renders any “push” imperceptible. The Crown Signia has a curb weight of 4,210 pounds and will tow up to 2,700 pounds. The cargo area yields up to 68.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear 60/40 split seats folded down, but you’ll lose a couple of cubic feet if you opt for a model with the panoramic roof. 

There are only two trims available at launch, which is unusual for Toyota given its penchant for many different trims on its new models. The Crown Signia will come as either an XLE or Limited, with a price difference of about $4,000 between them. Both are AWD, powered by the same hybrid powertrain, and boast all the same performance specs.

The major differences in trims come from the 19-inch wheels of the Crown Signia XLE versus the 21-inch wheels of the Limited, as well as a few creature comforts, including an upgraded 11-speaker JBL audio system, digital key capability, and rain-sensing wipers. The digital key lets owners use their phones to lock/unlock and start their Signias, but it also requires a paid subscription on top of the added cost of the Limited trim.

Additionally, the Crown Signia features a fully electric EV Mode that operates at low speeds over short distances, but Toyota didn’t mention what the speed and distance limits were. EV Mode uses the front motor exclusively to power the front wheels (and the front wheels only).

The 2.5-liter hybrid drivetrain of the Crown Signia might seem familiar because it’s essentially the same one found in lower trims of the other Crown sold in the U.S. You know, the one sans Signia in the name. The standard Crown “sedan” sold in America comes with the option of a 2.5-liter regular hybrid or the 2.4-liter Hybrid Max, which comprises a turbocharged inline-four that jacks up the performance to 340 horses in total. 

There’s no Hybrid Max option in the Crown Signia, which feels like a misstep on Toyota’s part. The decision puts the Signia squarely in premium family car territory without any of the Crown sedan’s quirky attitude and fun factor. All the practicality of the Crown is in the Signia (plus all that cargo room) but there’s none of your highness’ magic. 

The only saving grace I found behind the wheel of the Crown Signia was in setting the drive mode to Sport. The other two modes are Normal and Eco, with the former being the default mode. Sport makes the throttle response a bit more snappy but the Signia can’t overcome its heft, and the suspension—MacPherson struts up front, multilink rear—never feels taut enough to make the drive enjoyable. 

The combination errs on the side of soft and pillowy (for comfort, no doubt) but, as a result, it makes the Crown Signia feel quite numb and disconnected from the road. Driving on California’s State Route 94 out of San Diego, the Signia’s suspension makes the twisty road feel absolutely flat. Adding to this muted feel is a commandingly high 25.8-inch hip-point (almost a full inch taller than the regular Crown). This sort of thing makes the Crown Signia one of the least entertaining cars I’ve driven in a while but is likely exactly the sort of thing its buyers are looking for. 

Given its intent, the Signia isn’t a bad wagon, or SUV, or whatever, but it is quite bland and left me questioning why Toyota didn’t just badge this as a Camry Wagon or something… and why a buyer wouldn’t simply give up the cargo space and get a less expensive Camry sedan. Not even the car’s looks are exclusive to the flagship family now that the new Camry and Prius have the same “hammerhead” front fascia as the Signia.

The difference I can work out is that the Camry seems to underpromise and overdeliver while the Crown Signia can’t really live up to the promise of its badge. 

Even the interior of the Signia reminds me of the Camry, albeit with upgraded materials and slightly different layouts. The Signia adopts a similar stepped console as that of Camry, and HVAC controls live on a thin row of physical controls. These control the rear-mounted passenger AC vents found at the back of the Signia’s center column—yep, there are no dedicated HVAC controls for the rear passengers. It’s clear that passenger comfort is the telos of the Signia, but at what cost? On the flip side, the driver enjoys a nice and quiet cabin with a 12.3-inch center touchscreen. There’s also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on tap.

There’s a vertical wireless charging pad for your phone that I adore. It more or less hides your handset out of sight, and that is my jam. When partnered with Toyota’s next-gen infotainment system—in the running for my favorite native interface at the moment—it gives me a break from my iPhone screen. Only thing I dislike about the cabin is that Toyota keeps using that awful plastic piano finish, which is a fingerprint magnet.

Overall, the Crown Signia feels like a combination of the newest Camry and a base-engine Crown. And like the lesser trims of the Crown sedan, the Signia is all about comfort and fuel economy,  getting up to 39 mpg in the city and 37 highway. 

Looking at modern SUVs, the Signia’s fuel economy compares favorably, and most other family SUVs struggle to get the same mpg figures. Maybe that’s why Toyota keeps calling this an SUV. Or because the Signia is about as fun to drive as a Toyota Venza. But, hey, if calling this wagon an SUV is what it takes to sell Americans on wagons again, then so be it. 

The Crown Signia’s problem isn’t that it’s wrongly labeled as an SUV when it’s really a wagon. The problem is that it’s labeled a Crown—an elevated tier of Toyota—when it’s basically a five-door Camry and as close as the auto giant has come to making a boring “driving appliance” in a long time.

2025 Toyota Crown Signia Specs
Base Price (Limited as tested)$44,985 ($51,675)
Powertrain2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid | electronic continuously variable automatic | all-wheel drive
Torque178 lb-ft @ 4,300-4,500 rpm (not including torque from the electric motor)
Seating Capacity5
Curb Weight4,210 pounds
Towing Capacity2,700 pounds
Cargo Volume25.8 cubic feet behind second row | 68.8 cubic feet behind first row
Ground Clearance6.7 inches
0-60 mph7.1 seconds
EPA Fuel Economy39 mpg city | 37 highway | 38 combined
Quick TakeThe Crown Signia is exactly what Toyota set out to make, meaning it’s a comfortable but boring family car wearing a Crown badge.

Got a tip? Email us at tips@thedrive.com


The Drive Logo

Car Buying Service