Here Is What The 2023 Toyota Crown Looks And Feels Like In Real Life

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Since the 2023 Toyota Crown’s reveal there have been a lot of questions. What does it look like outside of press images? What is the interior like? And just how high does it sit off of the ground? Before I departed Toyota’s reveal I got to play around with a Crown. Here’s what the 2023 Crown is like in real life.

(Full Disclosure: Toyota invited me to Austin, Texas to attend the Toyota Crown’s reveal. The company paid for my travel and a night in a swanky resort.)

Last week, Toyota made lots of people feel lots of emotions with the unveiling of the new Toyota Crown lineup. America is getting the Crown back after a 50-year absence, but the new car isn’t what some–including myself–expected. The understated luxury sedan that you may know the Crown to be is staying in Japan. The U.S. is getting a lifted sedan or a crossover, depending on whom you ask.

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Mercedes Streeter

I’ll go over that first since I bet that you’re scratching your head right now. Here in America, Toyota USA is calling the new Crown a full-size sedan with elevated ride height. I asked Toyota’s representatives about this, and they told me that lifting the Crown serves the kind of customer who doesn’t want to get down into a sedan or lift themselves out of one. Giving the Crown the ride height of a crossover means that drivers can slide in and out with ease. Toyota USA only uses the word “crossover” as a comparison for the Crown’s height.

After the U.S. release of the Crown, I eventually retired to my hotel room, where I watched the car’s global release. While we’re getting just this Crown, Japan is getting four. The full lineup is the Crown Crossover Type, Crown Sport Type, Crown Sedan Type, and Crown Estate Type.

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Toyota

That Sedan Type is the Crown that I expected the U.S. to get, and based on the responses to my first story on this, is the one that many of our readers expected, too. But it makes sense that we’re not getting that Crown. Remember when Volkswagen tried to sell the Phaeton in America?

You’ve probably noticed by now, but the Crown that we’re getting in America is labeled as Crossover Type in Japan — Toyota in Japan is indeed calling it a crossover. Toyota USA’s reps didn’t have an explanation for the difference in labeling, but said that we’re getting this Crown because it’s believed that this one would sell the best out of the four.

Regardless if it’s called a crossover or lifted sedan, this is the Crown that we’re getting. And from my reading of the comments here and elsewhere, people want to know what it’s like in real life. Toyota’s press images are neat, but weirdly, don’t provide a decent view of the interior or give you a sense of how large the car actually is.

Let’s start with the exterior.

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Mercedes Streeter

Toyota says that the Crown sits at 60.6 inches tall over a Camry’s 56.9 inches. And its length is about two inches shorter than the current Avalon. Missing from Toyota’s measurements was ground clearance. I asked about that and was told that figures for ground clearance will be released sometime in the future.

I tried to figure out the clearance myself using my phone. My smartphone comes in at roughly 6 inches tall with its case on. I started taking rough measurements from the vehicle’s underbody. From the lowest underbody tray that I found I got roughly eight inches.

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There’s not much to see under here. Mercedes Streeter

It was about 9 inches from the rockers. Assuming that my rough calculations are correct, ground clearance nearly three inches higher than an Avalon and about two inches higher than a Camry.

The design certainly seems to be a mix of crossover and sedan. It’s bulky like a crossover, but the greenhouse screams sedan. Crowns in all trim levels but Platinum come painted in a single color. With the car painted in one color you can see all of the quirks in the design. There’s a huge–and largely closed–black grille up front, almost exaggerated hips, and a simple rear.

However, you can see where the car was designed to be two-tone. Panels flank the trunk that are black on the two-tone Platinum trim.

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Mercedes Streeter

In other markets, Toyota’s logo takes a backseat to the Crown’s unique badging. That isn’t the case here and Toyota tells me that it’s because the Crown name has no real equity in America.

And yes, that’s just a normal trunk. Given the rear’s look, I originally thought there was a hatch there. At least the trunk goes deep and the rear seats can be folded if necessary.

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The lid is really light, too! Mercedes Streeter

My immediate thought is that this is a return of the AMC Eagle or Subaru Legacy Outback. It’s a vehicle in the shape of a sedan, but jacked up and riding high. I also noticed that there’s a considerable gap between the Crown’s brake rotors and the inside of the wheels. These wheels get as large as 21 inches on the Platinum trim. I keep going back to thinking that going down a few inches on the wheels and giving this machine all-terrains would make it look epic. Add in skid plates and off-road lights and you have a desert runner. Toyota, purveyor of the TRD Off-Road Rav4, will not be doing an off-road version, but I hope that someone does.

Let’s move to the interior.

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Mercedes Streeter

Many people know the Crown to be stealthy luxury vehicle; basically a sedan with a Lexus-quality materials but Toyota looks. To me, this falls short of Lexus, but it’s still pretty nice in there. The interior was roomy, the seats felt comfortable, and some surfaces felt good to the touch.

However, if you’re expecting a lavish interior this isn’t exactly the vehicle for that.

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Mercedes Streeter
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Mercedes Streeter

The interior isn’t flashy and the most luxurious feature is heated seating for the rear. It even has a little more hard plastic than I expected.

If I had to compare to another vehicle in Toyota’s lineup, it felt like a high-spec Camry, with the biggest upgrade being the 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Other highlights would be the copper trim and glass roof.

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Mercedes Streeter

Toyota says this car is not replacing the departing Avalon, but I can see the customer for this car being similar. It sits high off of the ground and it’s comfortable. But maybe the two-tone Platinum might attract a younger buyer who is looking for something with funky looks.

We also know a little more about the Crown’s specs. The hybrid system is powered by a new nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. Crowns with the base 2.5-liter four hybrid setup will get 236 HP and up to 38 mpg combined. The Platinum and its 2.4-liter turbo four hybrid makes 340 HP with up to 28 mpg combined.

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2.4-liter pictured. Mercedes Streeter

Pricing hasn’t been announced, either, but a starting price in the ballpark of $50,000 seems like a fair guess. This comes from asking others at the event what they were told and what they think. The JDM Crown Crossover will start at about the equivalent of $31,400, with the top trim having a starting price of $46,200. Hopefully, we’re wrong!

The Crown was shocking when I first saw images of it. It’s one thing when a vehicle release isn’t what you expect, but the Crown was more than that. I actually blurted out “what!?” when I first saw images of it.

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Mercedes Streeter

But in person, the looks have grown on me. Sure, the Crown isn’t the executive sedan that I thought it was, but I like it. In a world where so many cars are identical blobs, this stands out. I’m sure it will be a fine replacement for the Avalon and I actually can’t wait to see if it drives as odd as it looks.

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57 Responses

  1. “Toyota says this car is not replacing the departing Avalon”

    Even though it basically is replacing the Avalon as the sedan in their line that is above the Camry.

    I’m guessing them saying that is a ploy to give it more of an “all new” shine and avoid the less exciting “just an updated Avalon” perception.

  2. A. That two-tone exterior doesn’t look so bad in the front, but the back looks like DT grabbed a junkyard trunk and said “black and red – good enough.” Yikes.

    B. Should we expect some of the other body types as Lexuses? That sedan looks like a new ES (the latest one is/was basically an Avalon, right?) and the SUV could be an upsized RX.

    $50k for a big Toyota, though? Is the well-healed, white-haired country club couple can get the “ultra luxury” hybrid ES for basically the same price. Didn’t the opportunity to buy an Audi for the same price (and awful, horrible reliability) kill the Phaeton?

    1. B. As of now, this is the one that we’re getting. Toyota USA’s reps told me that they do not have any information on if more of them are coming. They assume no.

      $50k is indeed a lot for a big Toyota. My guess comes from my listening to chatter throughout the event. One person I spoke to said that Toyota wouldn’t tell them the price, but the questions that they did answer led them to believe the price would be closer to $60k. Another concluded that the price would be somewhere in the 40s.

      The JDM Crown Crossover will start at about the equivalent of $31,400, with the top trim having a starting price of $46,200. So, it would be interesting if ours end up being much more expensive. I hope to be wrong!

      1. A Lexus RX starts at $46k. Pretty well loaded, it is $60k. I’m not sure who is buying this lifted sedan thing with a Toyota badge and what looks (and is described) like a standard Toyota interior, when they can go get the RX with a Lexus interior.

  3. I have two small requests for the staff at this site.

    The next time one of you go to a Toyota press event, can you remember to ask them why they think their current front lower grill styling is a good idea? I really suspect they don’t actually notice how awful it is. Kind of like not being aware that you have some crud on your face. They might appreciate being tipped off.

    Secondly, it’s great that you have a suspension designer and a car designer on staff. Their segments are really great and appreciated. If you manage to somehow get a materials expert on staff, I’d like to request the first post to be an explanation as to why we are swimming in so much fucking shiny black plastic these days? Is it some sort of miracle material? Lighter? More durable? Made of eco-friendly banana peels? Seriously, what has brought this horror on us?

      1. Don’t you worry, that is something that we’re definitely working on! After all, I’d love to be able to edit a typo out of a comment, myself.

        Also, we’re also working on notifications and adding photos! We’re trying to bend WordPress to our will.

    1. The piano black is getting ridiculous and it looks cheap to me. BMW is slathering their cars in it too. Remember when you used to pay extra for “body colored” bumpers and mirrors instead of black? Are they trying to circle back around to that? “Pay extra so your car looks good”.

      The two tone on this car looks like some cheesy appearance package for an HR-V to try to get those “youth” buyers in the show room.

    2. I’m no materials expert, but I’m going to guess that plastic is cheap, black is easy to throw in everything, and the shininess means reflecting a few of the rays that could damage the plastic. Also, trends come in waves like this. I think we’ve reached full saturation and may see the next trend come about as a reaction to this. Woodgrain seems to be cropping up in a few more places again, so it may be next, but the move to offer more matte paints may mean we just start mattifying things. Either would be preferable to shiny “piano black.”

  4. I was interested until I saw the 7th photo.

    This is why sedans are dying!!!

    Car designers, listen to me – want to have more than just crossovers in the lineup? Two words: Lift. Back. Put them together to make a compound word: liftback! You retain the sleeker look of a mid-late 20th century car while still having better utility than a trunk. All “sporty” cars between approximately 1974-1992 had them, and you could actually use them as daily drivers because of it. Forget “stiffness” – only a small amount of people buy cars as track toys, and most them don’t buy them new. Is this some kind subversive attempt to kill off all but the most iconic non-crossover cars?

    Can I add some SEO tags to this so that someone who can do something about it can see this post?

    1. Sing it!

      This fastback style (that’s really what it is…Mustang and the other early pony cars were all about this) is fine on a coupe, if even expected.

      But on anything with 4 doors, a true liftback (or hatchback, but that’s a dirty word here in the states among car executives, all of whom seem to be really old but somehow were in hibernation during the 1980s) is what people actually want.

      Hard core truck types aside, I bet many if not most SUV drivers like that part best about their SUV. They would happily do without the big wheels, offroad goodies, etc. just to be able to easily haul stuff.

    2. SUV/minivan driver here. Liftback is fine, but I would trade that for a sedan with a bit more headroom (I’m 6’4) and windows that actually allow me to see what is around me. Sedan designers have responded to the SUV threat by making their cars lower and with gun slits for windows.

    1. The Accord Crosstour was a hideous abomination that needed to be nuked from orbit, just to be sure. It’s from the realm of bad ideas like the Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet.

  5. “However, you can see where the car was designed to be two-tone. Panels flank the trunk that are black on the two-tone Platinum trim.”

    Was it though? Maybe I just have an outdated idea of what makes an attractive car but this isn’t it and the two-tone version just takes it to another level of unattractive IMO…

  6. Mercedes, you actually saw the interior of this thing in person. Is it just as cheap looking and feeling as a Camry or Corolla? I’m seeing a lot of flat, cheap looking plastic in the pics.

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  8. The first time I saw a pic, I thought it looked good. It is getting less attractive with each view. I suspect it won’t sell well, but you’ll see a few of them out there because they are an extremely logical choice for the select subset of people who miss the Accord Crosstour or the Ford Five Hundred.

    Realistically, this is a less attractive 2014 Taurus with AWD.

    1. To be honest, many Toyota’s of late have had “the closer you look, the worse it gets”. IMO, Toyota design is amongst the worst at this moment. Boring would be better than what they’re putting out now.

  9. Do I have to be THAT guy?

    When reading a negative comment about the Honda CrossTour, I’d pay a lot more attention if that comment were preceded with “I was once a CrossTour owner.” My 2015 CrossTour will probably be my last car, only because I can’t find anything else out there that gives me what I currently have, at any price. When I find something that gives me I want, all I’m gaining is something like Apple Play.

    With my CT:

    I have AWD
    I have a “real” transmission with sport mode/shift paddles when I find a nice curvy road (Our Lexus and other Honda have CVTs, which work just fine for other family members but not for me)
    I have a smooth as silk six-cylinder J35 engine that approaches 300 HP (278). The VTEC is amazing
    I have a hatch, making this car incredibly versatile
    With 72 mph on the cruise control, I bounce between 28 and 30 mpg. 26 around town consistently

    The CrossTour wasn’t without drawbacks. The 4 cylinder models were under powered. The six-cylinder/AWD models came with the same rear sway bar/end link set up as the 4 cylinder FWD models. Upgrading to a TLX sway bar and fixed end links was the first modification I made to control the understeer. Most drivers wouldn’t even notice that, but I like to corner hard and want my cars to go where I point them.

    If you’ve owned a CT and wish talk trash on it, feel free to. If your comment is restricted to “I didn’t like the look” then I respect that, as well but that’s a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” thing. Although I adore the bubble look, I can understand why some don’t. But, for me the function greatly outweighs the form.

    And, yes…Toyota is shortchanging the American Market with their domestic offering for the Crown.

    1. I saw an Acura ZDX the other day (actually two, which was weird), and thought that Honda was just too early and should have stuck with it. I don’t think any of the coupe SUV’s are beautiful, but they sell well for some reason.

  10. I’m sure Toyota will sell bunches of ’em. Just not to me. I’ve known car designers — “Don’t call me a stylist!” — who could recite chapter and verse on classical Japanese art forms that influenced the shape and detailing of unattractive lumps like the Crown and thus find them beautiful, but I disagreed with them then, and still do. This will, I think, have a deservedly short shelf life.

    It will be a happy day indeed when stylists can produce shapes that are not kitted out with random extraneous indentations, sweeps, swoops, tacked-on faux air inlets, black accents here and there, and eye-shaped lighting. Where is Flamminio Bertoni when we REALLY need him?

  11. I’m not sure yet, but I think I like the styling. At first glance, some of the angles reminded me of the Local Motors Rally Fighter (I hadn’t thought about that car in years and it took me a bit of googling to remember what it was called). I like the “lifted sedan” look quite a lot. I also like the roofline, the rear styling, and the two tone paint. I’m not that fond of the grill/headlights, though. To me, the front looks a bit like an ’80s dustbuster vacuum. Otherwise, it looks good. Between this and the Supra, Toyota styling doesn’t suck at the moment.

    Incidentally, did anyone else think this was going to be an EV at first glance?

  12. Looks pretty neat?

    I see very little to like about it………from some angles the front end just looks tacked on. The two tone color – especially in the back does look like it came from two different cars. I thought I would like a 2 tone paint combo, but somehow this does not look luxurious. The single color versions look better IMHO.

    And the interior just looks plain. If this is supposed to be their top of the line car, it just doesn’t look it.

    I also think $50K for any car of this caliber is not a good value…….

  13. Toyota is smart (not to be confused with Smart) and I hate them for it.

    As far as lifted sedans go, this is less of an AMC Eagle and more of a Polestar 2, but cheaper, and with a more tried-and-true powertrain. It’s true that it’s not a replacement for the Avalon – the Crown will likely do a good job of drawing the younger crowd that has some money, wants an appliance – “something reliable, a Honda or Toyota, probably,” as you’ll see all over r/whatcarshouldibuy – but not something as boring and cookie-cutter as a Civic/Corolla/Camry/RAV4. Its heft won’t hurt it there, either, given how much the average car has grown over the years. On the other hand, it is also perfectly poised to fill the “grandpa’s car” niche of the Avalon – quite nice for the money, comfy, reliable, and this time around, easy to get in and out of. It will sell like hotcakes, without the danger of cannibalizing existing models’ sales.

    The other Crowns don’t meet these conditions: the sedan doesn’t have enough badge presence in the US to assert itself as anything but a nicer Camry, a more affordable ES, or a warmed over Avalon (even though in reality it’s none of the above); the Sport and the Estate would only sell as manual diesels, and only if they came used from the factory… jokes aside, hatches and sedans seem to have been fully relegated to enthusiast cars in this country, which makes them not marketable as anything but rolling advertisements for the brand’s image*.

    To sum up my rant, the Crown Crossover looks like a genuinely good car and it makes sense for Toyota to have picked that one to bring stateside. I hate it 🙂

    *I’d say this applies to the GR Corolla too, but boy, am I grateful that we got it.

  14. This makes NO SENSE. What is Toyota thinking lately? The BZ4X is a bad, ugly EV and this is a bad, ugly hybrid. Both should be scrapped so they can pivot to all-electric Rav-4 and Highlander models.

  15. Great write-up Mercedes, good journalism. This answered a bunch of questions that popped into my head the moment I first read about the new Crown. It’s a confused concept but I really hope it sells well. It’s not bound for Australia from the outset, but a lifted Luxe-Camry sure as hell should be.

  16. Thanks for the insights, Mercedes. As far as the AMC Eagle comparison, I can definitely see that. I guess what’s old is new again.

    Also, agreed on your analysis on the interior. I know this is being sold as a Toyota, and not many folks stateside understand what the Crown means in Japan, but for people like us…me, at least, I’m pretty disappointed. Boo.

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