All rise for the Toyota Crown Platinum flagship
In the words of the quirky British comedy troupe, Monty Python: And now for something completely different.
May I introduce you to the new Toyota Crown, the successor to the Avalon, as Toyota’s flagship sedan, and a car so polarizing in its design that it will leave you saying: What the hell? Or words to that effect.
This is a car that almost combines four cars into one. It’s part four-door sedan, part long-legged SUV, part four-door coupe, and part Prius XL hybrid.
Think of it as Toyota daring to be different by adding a new twist to the slowly dying traditional four-door sedan market. Some may hate it. For me, as a lover of all things weird, it’s amazing.
Of course, elevated sedans are nothing new. Remember the AMC Eagle? Or the funky Volvo S60 Cross Country? Here it is, a car that stands more than four inches taller than the previous Avalon, rolls on great-looking 21-inch tires, and has an attention-grabbing presence.
View it from the side and the way the roofline flows back is a thing of beauty. The way the roof meets the high waistline as it rises upwards to give a coupe-like appearance is absolutely gorgeous.
Well, the front end is a bit annoying. It is filled with a large amount of black plastic. A little chrome here and there to break up the look from the back to black would have reduced the visual heft.
Toyota takes the “daring to be different” theme to the extreme with its exotic two-tone paint options, which include a glossy black hood and tail section. Thank God it’s just that; option.
But in the week I spent experiencing the flagship, leather-lined Crown Platinum — fully loaded for $53,445 — I lost count of the number of turns, thumbs-up, iPhone photos and “Hey, what’s that?” I got it from passersby.
Yes, you can get a new Crown XLE for around $41,000, or a Limited for $46,600. But these are the luxury platinum pants you really want. How is that? That’s what’s under the hood.
While all three Crown models have hybrid powertrains and all-wheel drive as standard, it’s the Platinum model that gets Toyota’s new Hybrid Max setup.
Inspired by the latest Lexus RX500h crossover, the system is mated to a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, front and rear electric motors, and a six-speed automatic transmission.
This technical combination conjures 340 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, with electric assistance that makes for off-the-line sprints Usain Bolt-style. Pedal to the metal, and you’ll see 0-60 in a blistering 5.7 seconds.
And hybrid power means it’s positively ascetic in its thirst for gas. Around town, you see 29 per gallon, and an impressive 32 on the highway. XLE and Limited models, equipped with the less powerful 236-hp hybrid system, can average 42 miles per gallon city and 41 highway.
On the road, our Crown Platinum team checked all the right boxes. It’s a lively performance car, with eager acceleration in fast passing and safe merging on the highway. Yes, the four-cylinder engine can make a slightly harsh sound under hard acceleration, but it’s far from squeaky.
Show the car’s curve and there’s almost no body roll, thanks to the adaptive dampers, while the electric steering has enough weight and precision to make things fun. Add to that a ride that’s as smooth as a luxury sedan, even on the harshest black surfaces.
Inside, the level of standard equipment is top notch. Everything from the heated and ventilated leather front seats to the full-length panoramic glass roof, an 11-speaker JBL stereo, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen.
Yes, that sweeping roofline steals headroom in the back, and the trunk is a little on the shallow side. But that high ride height makes getting in and out a breeze.
Think of this new Crown as the ultimate crossover that combines a regular sedan and a compact SUV, with the advantage of hybrid power and economy.
That would be a win, win, and another win.