Toyota Crown review: The strangest car from Toyota is a hybrid sedan

Toyota Crown review: The strangest car from Toyota is a hybrid sedan

There’s a lot to love about the Crown, which offers the best hybrid drive system in Toyota’s lineup, but its SUV aspirations may leave you wanting more.

The automobile industry is often criticized for its conservative package mentality in its designs. Consider the calculated similarity of today’s crossovers, all chasing the same theoretical family customer. But the fact remains that from time to time, car designers like to get weird. Whether it’s a tendency to overdo the luxury side of the equation, or having too many management chefs throwing a myriad of ingredients onto the whiteboard, buyers can reliably count on at least one, if not two, unusual extras. Or three, to the market on an annual basis. .

The latest of these outliers is the 2023 Toyota Crown. Ostensibly an alternative to the slow-selling Avalon sedan, a large four-door lost in the middle of an SUV bench, the Crown makes a valiant attempt to be all things to all people — at least, to everyone in the market for complete machines. the size. To that end, it ditches the Avalon’s three-box design in favor of a choppy silhouette that suggests a hatchback, while also riding high enough to excite those who in the past might have envied Volvo’s cross-country range.

It’s a low-risk, high-reward scenario for Toyota. The Avalon’s shrinking business means there’s nothing wrong with taking that piece off the board, and likewise, borrowing the Crown name from its long-standing Japanese market counterpart won’t ruffle any feathers on this side of the Pacific. Although the Crown badge is also plastered on a range of similarly sized models found elsewhere in the world (inspired by more traditional four-door and five-door models), Toyota has so far been slow going in America with just one variant.

trolley Toyota Crown 2023
Cutting tested Platinum
Starting price $40,050
Price of the tested model $55,140
Type of car Four-door hybrid sedan
engine 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid electric motor (340 hp, 400 lb-ft of torque)
Fuel economy 29 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, EPA rating (up to 39 mpg in our testing)
Availability As of early 2023

The word “weird” in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, especially if it takes the car in a new or exciting direction that its competitors haven’t been brave enough to explore. However, sometimes not going far enough into an outlier can lead to judging a car like a crown to a middle ground that doesn’t fully realize the potential of its apparently bold design.

Toyota’s bet on offbeat design paid off in the crown.


Crown jewel

It’s impossible to examine the Toyota Crown without mentioning its stunning looks. Everything about the Crown from the side suggests an SUV, from its powerful wheel arches to its dramatically pointed tail. It’s no coincidence that this body style was chosen as the first American appearance of the Crown name, given the modern obsession with crossovers and their ilk.

Overall, it’s a successful visual effort, especially in the black and copper colors of the example I tested. I routinely fielded questions about its provenance from curious onlookers, a level of interest that the sleepy Avalon was unable to muster even at an AARP conference.

The utility-focused crown image deflates a bit the first time you try to pull something with it. Here, we have a conventional trunk rather than a practical hatchback, which actually clocks in with smaller cubic feet than the now-departed Avalon. I’ll never understand the pseudo-hatch mentality that guides this kind of design, nor the similarly puzzling decision to shrink the pass-through hatch that connects the trunk to the fold-down rear seats. When transporting a load of boxes during a test drive, I ended up cramming half the seats onto the seats themselves and tossing the difference into the trunk instead of taking advantage of the limited 60/40 split when the rear seats are folded.

The best hybrid driving system from Toyota

Helping to make up for the Crown’s limited promise of practicality is Toyota’s new Hybrid Max powertrain. Equipped exclusively with the top-tier Platinum trim level, this setup combines a four-cylinder gas engine with a single electric motor that delivers 340 horsepower and an impressive 400 pound-feet of torque.

These are impressive numbers for an electric vehicle, but much more important for Toyota is the smooth and quiet operation of the drivetrain. Most of the brand’s other hybrids are known for being loud and noisy when traveling at higher speeds, especially in larger applications like the Venza crossover and the small Sienna. The Crown exhibited none of this behaviour, resulting in one of the smoothest petrol/electric performances I’ve seen in a long time.

This is thanks not only to the engineering team behind the Hybrid Max system, but also to the decision to use a six-speed automatic transmission versus the drone-inducing continuously variable gearbox found elsewhere in Toyota’s lineup. Fuel mileage was also respectable, showing 24 mpg in mixed driving but ranging up to 39 mpg on longer highway stretches, with the latter exceeding the brand’s advertised rating. (For Limited and XLE, fuel economy is estimated at 42 mpg city, 41 mpg highway.)

I enjoyed the predictable power delivery that was integral to the Crown’s conventional automatic transmission, and I never found the car lacking when it came time to pass. Handling is more restrictive than the car’s acceleration, with a tendency to float and sway rather than tuck and weave when trying to negotiate a bend in the road at speed. That’s something I can live with in a car of this size, which doesn’t present itself as particularly sporty.

Those who don’t want to pay the $53,000 asking price for Platinum status may have a harder time putting up with the lesser hybrid system fitted to the XLE and Limited models. Although I haven’t driven it in Crown, it’s essentially the same annoying arrangement found in the other Toyota models described above, which seems likely to rob the car of speed and poise.

Another strange thing about the crown: it will make you think seriously about the black and copper color scheme.


Next time, push further

Walking the line between strangely great and strangely questionable is no easy task, especially for car companies that are betting that their view of breaking the status quo will resonate with buyers who have been programmed for years about what to expect in a certain class of vehicle. . For every big sales flop like the BMW Like design.

The Crown makes big SUV promises with its design that it can’t quite deliver when it comes time to load up and put down, which is a major disappointment given the rest of its range. The attractive sheetmetal, the quick and quiet hybrid powerplant, and the comfortable, more upscale-than-expected interior given its Toyota roots are enough of a basis on which to build a bolder vision of practicality (like the soon-to-be-departed Kia Stinger) than what we ultimately got.

The Crown serves its role as an alternative to the Avalon, but denying it the chance to go “completely exotic” deprives it of the opportunity to truly separate itself from the few full-size, sedan-like entities still roaming our roads.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: