Toyota Crown 2023 is part sedan, part SUV with 340 HP hybrid power

After a half-century hiatus, Toyota’s oldest nameplate returns to North America this year. Making its debut on Thursday, the new 2023 Toyota Crown is a very different vehicle from the sedan that has evolved over 15 generations in the company’s homeland of Japan, literally standing head and shoulders above the rest of Toyota’s sedans with its higher and cross proportions. .

elevation proportions

The Crown’s footprint is slightly larger than the current Camry and slightly smaller than the Avalon, measuring 194 inches bumper-to-bumper with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. With the Avalon gracefully exiting the lineup this year, that makes the Crown the automaker’s new flagship sedan. However, the Crown’s 60.6-inch roofline puts it about 3.7 inches taller than the Camry, with proportions vastly different from anything we’ve seen before from Toyota’s designers. Brand representatives tell us that most of the Crown’s verticality comes from its body “lift” proportions rather than significantly increasing ground clearance.

Raising the roof allowed the Crown’s designers to also raise its seating position to a height more similar to a crossover, combining the familiar driving dynamics, silhouette and discreet trunk of a sedan with the forward visibility, confidence and ease of use. entry and exit of a small SUV. But with so many of today’s SUVs already sporting very car-like road modes, Toyota may be splitting its hair over the perceived advantages of the driving experience.

The Crown’s handling department is comprised of a MacPherson suspension up front and a multilink setup for the rear wheels with standard 19-inch wheels for lower grades and optional 21-inch wheels for the Limited trim. The high-spec Platinum class makes these 21s standard equipment and upgrades the suspension with standard adaptive dampers.

340 hp Hybrid Maximum

Two powertrain options are available to Crown buyers, and both are hybrids with standard electronic four-wheel drive. The base configuration for the XLE and Limited versions is the 2.5-liter Toyota Hybrid System, which combines the automaker’s gas-electric hybrid setup on the front axle with a second electric motor on the rear axle for all on-demand configurations. Wheel Drive. This is very similar to the setup you’ll find in the current RAV4 Hybrid, but tweaks to the battery and other systems put the Crown’s power output at 236 horsepower and its estimated economy at around 38 mpg combined.

The higher Platinum class features adaptive suspension and a more powerful Hybrid Max drivetrain, and is available in a two-tone paint job.

Toyota

Opting for the Platinum grade also swaps the powertrain for the automaker’s new Hybrid Max system. This is upgraded to a 2.4-liter turbocharged gas-electric hybrid system with a six-speed automatic power transmission to the front axle and a water-cooled electric motor that powers the rear axle for a more performance-oriented all-wheel drive. and full-time. With everything working together, the Hybrid Max system peaks at 340 hp and, with an even headroom, delivers up to 28 mpg combined according to Toyota’s internal estimates.

The Crown is built on Toyota’s New Global K Architecture (TNGA-K), which also serves as the foundation for the Camry, RAV4, Highlander and Sienna. That means the chances of seeing an all-electric version of the Polestar 2 battling the tall sedan are slim to none. It seems like a missed opportunity to flex the dedicated E-TNGA electrical architecture used in the new BZ4X, but Crown’s development is likely to predate that platform.

Another missed opportunity is the lack of a plug-in hybrid version of Crown. A larger battery and a few tens of kilometers of EV range at the start of each day would add a little protection for the future as governments push for all-electric fleets over the next decade. It would also help the Crown serve as a gateway for buyers doubtful about the connection as Toyota makes its own slow transition to electrification. Toyota won’t comment on future products, so who knows? Maybe there’s a Crown PHEV on the drawing board waiting to debut.

The latest generation of Toyota’s Audio Multimedia technology comes standard with two 12.3-inch screens on the dash.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Connected multimedia technology

The Crown’s cabin houses the latest generation of Toyota’s dashboard technology. Dual 12.3-inch screens are standard – one ahead of the driver serving as a user-customizable digital instrument cluster and a second central touchscreen housing Toyota’s Audio Multimedia infotainment software. We’ve seen this system before in the new tundra where its integrated data connection enables over-the-air software updates, subscription-based remote services, managing multiple Toyota user profiles and searching connected destinations. There’s also “Hey, Toyota” hotword recognition that allows users to initiate searches with the sound of their voice.

Below the screens are physical controls for the climate systems (thanks for that!), a deep pocket for charging a cordless phone, and two USB Type-C ports for charging other passenger electronics. Two more Type-C ports can be found on the second row and a USB Type-A port is located inside the center console for media or standard playback. Android Auto or Apple Car Play connectivity.

The Crown combines the familiarity – and discreet trunk – of a large sedan with the seating position of a small SUV.

Toyota

The Crown will also come standard with the automaker’s Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 driver aid kit. Its pedestrian detection system now includes motorcyclist recognition and guardrails. Meanwhile, the pre-collision system can now automatically detect and brake to avoid accidents when turning at an intersection. Radar adaptive cruise control and lane tracking assistant also claim updates for this generation. Low speed security is enhanced with a standard backup camera or a 360 degree camera system which is optional for limited and standard degree on Platinum.

The 2023 Toyota Crown is an interesting exercise in challenging and mixing classes with its blend of sedan and crossover features, but it also feels oddly timed. It’s a sedan launched as new-car buyers shift to SUVs and a hybrid hitting the road as the industry approaches a tipping point towards full electrification. We’ll have to wait and see how buyers receive the crown when it goes on sale towards the end of this year. Pricing and final fuel economy are expected to be announced closer to that launch window.

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