2023 Toyota Crown: A Delightfully Strange, High-Riding Hybrid Sedan
And it’s coming to the U.S. for the first time in 50 years.
The 2023 Toyota Crown marks the first time the model has come to the United States in 50 years, albeit in a completely different package. Now it's a full-size hybrid sedan with standard all-wheel drive and an SUV-like ride height. It's essentially a bigger, comfier AMC Eagle for the present age—and an idea that feels like its time has come.
The entire premise of this car is a bold move, and I really believe the automotive world is better off as a result. No automaker has dared to cross the streams between "car" and "SUV" quite this boldly since the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. The Crown is delightfully wacky, like nothing else on the road right now. Part of me wishes Toyota would release a convertible version, too, just because I want to live on the vastly more amusing timeline where an automaker would take that risk. The Crown's bold styling is proof that whimsy isn't dead, and thank goodness, because that's exactly what we need right now.
This is ostensibly the replacement for the now-discontinued Toyota Avalon, a full-size sedan so nondescript that you may have forgotten it existed unless your grandparents owned one. Toyota is as painfully aware as any of us that SUVs sell far more than sedans nowadays, and also knows that its full-size sedan faithful want something comfy. Why not give a more eye-catching sedan the soft, higher ride of an SUV and solve both issues at once? The Crown, with its factory two-tone paint jobs and swoopy styling, certainly won't fade into the background as easily. Its newly developed chassis is based on the GA-K platform the Highlander uses, and it sits nearly four inches higher than the Camry.
The 2023 Crown is the first Toyota sedan to offer the Hybrid Max System, a performance-oriented drivetrain that gets 340 horsepower out of a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with two electric motors. What's more, it's tuned to hit peak torque at relatively low revs—between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm, which helps it go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. There's one electric motor up front as well as a more powerful "eAxle" in the rear, which utilizes a high-output water-cooled electric motor. All that low-down torque should, in theory, translate to a whole lot of fun, but we'll have to wait for a test drive to find out.
The Hybrid Max System uses a six-speed direct-shift automatic transmission complete with paddle shifters. Even though Toyota says it's tuned for performance and ample low-end torque, the company estimates it gets 28 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
The Crown comes in three trims: XLE, Limited, and Platinum, with the latter being the top of the range and the only trim to offer the Hybrid Max powertrain. The other Crowns come standard with the fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid System, which features a slightly larger 2.5-liter dual overhead cam engine but is clearly the version to get if you're looking for more efficiency. A newly developed high-output bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission help these cars achieve a manufacturer-estimated combined city/highway mileage of 38 mpg.
The range-topping Platinum trim also features Advanced Park and 21-inch wheels standard (as opposed to the base 19-inch wheels), plus it offers those eye-catching two-tone paint options. The Advanced Park System largely allows the car to park itself by controlling steering, acceleration, and braking, and it works with both parallel and perpendicular parking spots. The Platinum also features Adaptive Variable Suspension, which automatically adjusts the Crown's variable oil pressure shock absorbers to respond to road conditions, minimizing bumps, body pitch, and roll.
All Crowns come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite of driver assists and safety tech as well as all-wheel drive. The Crown doesn't use a transfer case and driveshaft to power its rear wheels, but rather, there's an electric motor on the rear axle to spin the rear wheels along with the fronts.
Inside, the Crown features Toyota's new Audio Multimedia System on a 12.3-inch touchscreen, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, and in-cabin LED mood lighting standard. Upgrading to the Platinum or Limited trims also gets you a panoramic moonroof.
Toyota intended the cabin to be a mini-refuge on the road that's focused on comfort and quietness. In turn, the company designed the high-strength GA-K platform and the Crown's suspension to reduce road noise, adding in strategically placed extra insulation as well as using acoustic glass to further isolate passengers from the din outside. The available 11-speaker JBL Audio System also includes a rear subwoofer and an 8-channel amp that Toyota says was acoustically tuned specifically for the Crown.
So, what do you think? Is it finally time for lifted sedans? And when can we put all-terrains on this bad boy?
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