Toyota decided to discontinue the Avalon model for the upcoming 2023 model year, opting instead to introduce the Crown as a fresh addition to their vehicle lineup. The Crown draws inspiration from crossovers and boasts two hybrid powertrains. With this new offering, Toyota aims to enter the competitive arena, challenging renowned rivals such as the Subaru Legacy and Volvo V90, among others.
The Crown draws inspiration from common features typically seen in crossovers, which have shaped its design and driving experience. However, it’s crucial to understand that not every aspect of the Crown is beneficial. Unlike the Avalon, which emphasizes luxury and sportiness, the Crown leans towards a less athletic disposition.
One limitation of the Crown is the reduced headroom caused by its raised seating arrangement. However, the Crown excels in terms of fuel efficiency, offering exceptional performance with both powertrain choices. It also provides generous interior space and introduces the remarkable new Hybrid Max powertrain.
The Crown exhibits distinctive design elements that draw inspiration from crossover styling, yet it fails to make a notable impression or cause any displeasure, both internally and externally.
Our test vehicle arrived in a striking Supersonic Red color, showcasing a sleek black interior. Toyota made certain modifications to the Crown’s body, resulting in a 4.0-inch increase in seat height. However, this alteration has its drawbacks, as the car’s ground clearance remains similar to that of a standard sedan.
To maintain a harmonious and well-proportioned appearance, the shoulder line was raised to accommodate a higher roof, avoiding the resemblance of a bubble top. The inclusion of cladding around the wheel wells and the seamless connection between the tires and cladding introduce subtle elements of crossover-style, enhancing the overall visual appeal.
These modifications contribute to an elevated fastback sedan aesthetic for the Crown. The front end showcases Toyota’s latest wide-mouth grille design, which is a common feature across their lineup. Thin headlights on either side of an intense expression line complete the front fascia.
The sides of the car exhibit rear fenders with an upward slope, lower cladding, and a black trim section running along the lower doors. The rear end is rounded and slightly set back from the rear fenders, creating an outline that frames the headlights and extends towards the hood. The rear inset can be customized with a black option as part of a two-tone paint choice.
Inside the Crown, you’ll find a well-arranged layout that differs from its predecessor, the Avalon, in terms of visual appeal and luxurious surface materials. The dashboard showcases horizontal lines and seamlessly integrates a sizable 12.3-inch center screen with the digital instrument cluster. The controls and center console are user-friendly and provide convenient access, including a vertical pocket for wireless smartphone charging, two cupholders, and a spacious console bin.
While the Crown may not excel in interior space or premium materials, it can comfortably accommodate up to five people. However, the design compromises interior space due to the higher seating position and sloping roofline, which restricts headroom for taller individuals. On the positive side, both rows offer ample legroom, the front seats provide a comfortable seating experience akin to an “easy-chair,” and the rear seat offers decent thigh support for longer journeys.
Despite its fastback shape, the Crown retains sedan characteristics, resulting in a relatively narrow trunk opening. Nevertheless, the trunk provides a respectable 15.2 cubic feet of space, which can be expanded by utilizing the standard 60/40-split folding rear seat to accommodate longer items.
As a premium alternative to the Avalon, the Crown falls short in terms of interior quality compared to its predecessor. Notably, there is an increased presence of hard plastics and a reduction in soft-touch surfaces.
Each Crown model incorporates acoustic glass and a sound-absorbing pad positioned between the engine and cabin. Additionally, Toyota’s engineers have implemented measures to minimize sound pathways around door frames, window openings, wiring harnesses, and other areas, resulting in a serene and tranquil environment within the vehicle.
The Limited trim level of the Crown introduces numerous luxurious features, including a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, an 11-speaker JBL audio system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charging, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen with over-the-air-update capability, navigation, as well as wireless compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The latest offering from The Limited Crown showcases an innovative technology referred to as the “Toyota Hybrid System,” as announced by the brand. Although it possesses its unique model tuning, it shares similarities with the 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain found in Toyota’s Camry, RAV4, Highlander, and Sienna models.
In terms of power output, the THS may not be extraordinarily impressive, delivering 236 horsepower. However, it excels in terms of efficiency, as evidenced by commendable figures obtained through EPA testing. It boasts a rating of 42 mpg in the city, 41 mpg on the highway, and a combined 41 mpg.
Similar to its predecessor, the Avalon, the Crown remains appealing for everyday driving, providing a tranquil experience aided by the use of acoustic glass. Despite the inclusion of large 21-inch dark metallic alloy wheels as part of the $2,950 Advanced Technology Package for the Limited trim, the suspension has been finely tuned to minimize the impact of road bumps within the cabin.
Utilizing precise inputs during driving leads to a primarily seamless and easygoing experience. The THS system functions smoothly and efficiently, serving its intended purpose and displaying sufficient power during regular cruising. However, dissatisfaction begins to arise when the accelerator is pressed more forcefully.
Driving the Crown with enthusiasm does not yield much enjoyment. Although it handles its considerable weight admirably, surpassing the Camry by 800 pounds and approaching the mass of a 4Runner, it maintains stability while navigating corners.
A feeling of unease within the cabin arises due to the lack of a sport seat provided by Toyota. Additionally, occasional discomfort is experienced as Toyota’s Proactive Driving Assist, despite its good intentions, intervenes to limit your speed.
The 2023 Toyota Crown Limited, which we had the opportunity to test, carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $45,550. Our particular test car was further enhanced with the addition of the $2,950 Advanced Technology Package, a $425 premium paint color, and a few other minor options, resulting in a total price of $50,648.
The Nissan Maxima and Kia Stinger are direct rivals of the Crown, falling in a similar price range. It’s worth mentioning that neither the Maxima nor the Stinger offer a hybrid model, although only the Stinger provides the option for all-wheel drive.
Given the Crown’s position in its segment and its relatively modest sales volume, it’s understandable why automakers have shifted their attention away from SUVs. However, the Crown holds significant historical importance in Toyota’s corporate story, as it was their first mass-produced car and entry into the world of motorsports.
Toyota describes the Crown as a “reimagined sedan,” a comparison that may seem like reinventing black-and-white television. Nevertheless, Toyota remains confident that there is a viable market for this type of vehicle. With ambitious goals in mind, Toyota aims to sell approximately 20,000 to 30,000 units of the Crown annually in the United States.