The Toyota Crown Is Back After 50 Years And Is Bringing Up To 340 HP With It

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Fifty years ago, Toyota pulled a historically significant car out of the U.S. market. The Toyopet Crown was the first mass-produced Japanese car to hit American shores, paving the way for the Toyota that we know today. Now, it’s back, and it’s bringing some sleek looks and healthy power with it.

(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.)

I know a lot of you are excited right now, because the Crown has long been a piece of forbidden fruit for Americans. First arriving in America in 1958, the Crown stuck around until only 1972. In its 15 generations its has grown from a harsh car built for unimproved roads to an understated luxury cruiser that JDM fans love to import to the country. Even I have been drawn in by the Crown and have featured some a number of times in my stories of car importation and in my car finding column.

But this new Crown might be a bit different than what you’re expecting. Rumors said that this car would be a hybrid SUV, but it really seems to more bridge the gap between a sedan and an SUV. Toyota calls the Crown a full-size sedan, but notes that it sits high like a crossover for ingress and egress. The automaker doesn’t say what the ground clearance is, but notes that the vehicle’s overall height is 60.6 inches compared to a Camry’s 56.9 inches. The idea here is that occupants can slide in an out with ease, something that I confirmed with my own butt. And that’s part of why it looks like this:

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Now this is something that you might not lose in a parking lot.

I especially dig the taillights. They’re just a thin red band that covers the full width of the rear. At least to my eyes they’re simple and elegant.

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The Crown in its Platinum trim (we’ll get to that in a bit) has some funky color choices going on.

This is a car that is shocking at first, but with time seeing it in the flesh I began to really like it. Check it out!

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That black hood is accompanied with a black trunk. Platinum cars do get a choice of colors, but they all have the black hood and trunk.

This is also where I’ll point out something that I’m sure that Crown fans already noticed. While JDM Crowns get their own crown emblem, this one does not.

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In front, in back, and inside are just regular Toyota badges. At least to me it was just a little disappointing.

Speaking of that interior, it’s pretty well-appointed. The Crown comes standard with heated front seats. Step up to the Premium and Platinum trims and those seats gain ventilation. Also in those two trims are heated rear seats.

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In the base XLE trim the seats are a mix of cloth and synthetic leather, while the Limited and Platinum get real leather. Toyota says that this interior is supposed to be a sanctuary of sorts. There’s sound deadening all over the vehicle from the headliner and floor to the engine bay. You also get acoustic glass.

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No matter which Crown trim you choose you’re getting a hybrid powertrain. The Crown rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture K (TNGA-K), a platform that underpins cars like the Avalon, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, and more. This differs from the TNGA-L platform that you’ll find under the JDM Crown, Lexus LC, and Lexus LS. That said, this car will also be sold in Japan!

What you get here is a setup that is generally front-biased. In the XLE and Limited, the car is driven by a 2.5-liter four paired to the fourth-generation Toyota Hybrid System. This consists of its front electric motor that assists the gas engine and can drive the vehicle on its own slowly, for a short distance. Toyota hasn’t released the power numbers for the engine, motor, or the total output.

Step up to the Platinum and your engine becomes a 2.4-liter turbo four designed to hit peak torque between 2,000 and 3,000 RPM.

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This comes paired to what Toyota calls its HYBRID MAX system, which the electric motor in this case is said to help maximize torque. Once again, we’re not getting the specs on the motor or the engine.

No matter which Crown you get, it will come with AWD. In the XLE and Limited, you get an electric motor attached to the rear axle for what Toyota calls E-Four AWD. Toyota’s idea here is AWD without a transfer case or driveshaft. Under normal operation, the car sends all power to the front wheels. However, if necessary, the power can be split 20:80. XLE and Limited pair their powertrains with an eCVT.

In the Platinum, you get E-Four Advanced AWD, which is the same setup, but now the rear motor is doing something all of the time. The power split is between 70:30 and 20:80. That rear motor is water-cooled and once again, we don’t get tech specs on it. However, Toyota does say that the Platinum makes 340 horsepower total. That equates to a zero to 60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. Power gets to the road with help from a six-speed automatic.

In regard to suspension, XLEs and Limiteds get MacPherson-style struts and multi-link rear. The Platinum gets variable oil pressure shock absorbers and active dampers. Toyota says that the Platinum’s setup is supposed to soak up bumps while limiting pitch changes.

For technology, all Crowns get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch infotainment display.

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In the XLE, the infotainment drives 6 speakers, while Limited and Platinum get a JBL system with 11 speakers. The technology here is nothing earth-shattering. You can get features like a 360-degree camera, automatic parking, radar-based adaptive cruise control, app-based door entry, and of course Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The part that still blows my mind about this car is that it’s a lifted sedan and unapologetic about it. Maybe I’m weird, but I think that’s pretty neat. Give it some all-terrain tires and I bet this would be a ball off-road. Sadly, Toyota says forget about an off-road version.

In all, the new Crown is less the understated luxury cruiser that JDM fans know the old ones to be, and more of an experiment. It’s odd while still being a Toyota at heart. Toyota says that this isn’t replacing the departed Avalon, but I see a similar customer base, here.

Toyota hasn’t released pricing, but expects Crowns to hit dealerships later this year.

(All photo credits to Toyota unless otherwise noted.)

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65 Responses


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  2. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I see one in person but I’m not a fan. I don’t like the lifted sedans with required black plastic flares to “make it an SUV now” but even if the flares were gone and it was at normal car height, it’s still just looks like a generic modern day blob of a car.

    During the Japanese reveal last night, they showed that they’re getting 4 Crown models, one of them being a traditional sedan. I wish we could just get that one instead but we all know that was never going to happen

  3. I don’t hate it, if this is what it takes to keep mass-market sedans around in the U.S.

    As in, it seems to have the look of a kinda squashed crossover, which reminds me a lot of the Ford Evos, which I think is likewise not bad for what it is.

    Are vehicles like this perhaps a gateway drug to get SUV crazed people back to buying actual sedans?

  4. As a current owner of a 90s JDM Crown that I absolutely love, I had high hopes for this, I figured Toyota wouldn’t do it justice, but I was hoping. It’s an alright car I guess, but the FWD base kills it for me so bad. This isn’t a Crown, it’s the next gen Avalon. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I certainly will not be replacing mine with one.

  5. The black hood and trunk on the Platinum trim look just awful, is that really going to be the only option at that level? Because it would turn me right off. Also not a fan of that swoop of black plastic on the side, looks cheap and ugly. The overall body is quite handsome, though. The rear lighting reminds me of the Venza, another slightly weird Toyota that punches above its branding when it comes to comfort. I’m not a sedan person (shame we won’t get the Estate variant, a Toyota competitor to the Outback would rule) but if you are, this looks awfully interesting. I’d love to get up close and personal with one.

  6. “Toyota says that this isn’t replacing the departed Avalon, but I see a similar customer base, here.”
    Absolutely. I was looking at the Avalon, but really prefer hybrid or PHEV, and this really piques my interest. Once pricing and efficiency numbers are available, we’ll see if that is still the case.

      1. Plot twist: The Crossover mentioned there is actually this car!

        Toyota USA is marketing this car as a “heightened full-size sedan” and is avoiding crossover entirely. I asked about that today just for confirmation.

        Over in Japan they’re calling it the Crown crossover. So, same car, different marketing strategies.

        I also asked if we’re getting the other Crowns (especially that long sedan) and they said that they do not know about future plans.

    1. Maybe pedestrians should mind where they’re going, stay off the road, and use the crosswalks. Hard to believe, but when I’m not driving my car I’m actually a pedestrian, and at those times I find awareness of one’s surroundings to be very beneficial.

      1. Alternatively, it’d be nice if manufacturers improved visibility to help pedestrians. If I’m turning left, my A-pillar can easily hide someone across the road who’d absolutely have right of way if they wanted to use the crosswalk. As an also sometimes pedestrian, it sucks that you’re effectively expected to defer your movement to basically every car you see with the assumption that they won’t see you or just don’t care.

        Also, that’s not even getting into how awful infrastructure can be – if you’ve got to go 15 minutes out of your way to use a crosswalk (not uncommon in suburbia), you’re probably going to risk jaywalking, aren’t you?

    2. I was actually going to say the opposite. It definitely doesn’t strike me as cribbing any major design details from other manufacturers, and the two tone extending from the roof to the hood and hatch is pretty daring for a full size sedan thing.

      I say good on Toyota here, I’m digging it.

    3. As someone who was hit by a red light runner while bicycling six weeks ago, I find your comment to be very short sighted. The light had been red at least 7-8 seconds – the person just wasn’t paying attention at all. Thankfully it was only a Honda Fit and not some big stupid pickup.

  7. This seems like cashing in on the Crown’s historical JDM exclusivity and luxury reputation. Will this be sold in Japan as the Crown, badge and all? Could this be a USA Avalon replacement, in all reality? We could have enjoyed more comprehensive views of the entire interior, Mercedes, have any?
    As to the styling, it’s mostly inoffensive, except for that hideous electric shaver grill. Specs and price will tell the tale, but being a Toyota, it will sell like sno-cones at the county fair.

  8. Dunno if it’s just me, but this doesn’t appear to be a hatchback. That’s unfortunate – these dumpy rump sedans with letter-slot trunk openings are exasperating to load.

    I guess this makes the unique selling point what, the high h-point? Like the Ford Five Hundred’s ‘command seating’?

    1. This is a really good point I think. I was disappointed that they went fastback over hatchback here, as it’s a 4 door sedan, not a sport coupe.

      I think one of the legit reasons for liking SUVs is the hatchback configuration’s utility, as you mention.

      I bet here in the U.S., that’s what convinced a ton of people to abandon their trunk-ed sedans in the first place. If we’d had more European-style hatchback sedans, perhaps the SUV-pocalypse wouldn’t be so dramatic, Ford would still be making the Fusion, etc.

      1. Judging from one of the videos I’ve seen, they’re trying to have it both ways with a rear seat release in the trunk (rears fold forward and almost flat) and a large pass through.

        The actual trunk opening is a bit more generous than it might have been, and although personally it would drive me insane not to be able to chuck large boxes or bulky items in there, I feel like this is gunning for a demo who are looking at mainly luggage and groceries, and aren’t going to be wrestling with anything big enough for a sedan trunk opening to be an issue.

  9. Alright… lets look at the reality here,
    No one cares about what they drive.. even though some are paying 1k + monthly!
    EVERYONE HAS to stare at that stupid device in their hand while driving 50+mph.

    AND yet… here is Toyota going back to that same old sexist bullshit ad shit with the multi female customer base shown.. a boring as all hell vehicle.. that ya couldnt pick out of a fire in HELL.

    Damn thing could be mistaken for a new damn Venza.

    God damn… Toyota takes a decent nameplate for a established brick designed car.. and turns it on its head with this.. pill and its red lettering.

    And people pay for this…

  10. Looks like a nice and worthy replacement to the Avalon, whose production is coming to an end this year.

    Given that it’s in a shrinking segment, I suppose Toyta reasoned that it didn’t make sense to have a separate/bespoke model for the Americas, China and the Middle East markets.

  11. This the first time in decades Ive actually thought, “thats a good looking Toyota.”
    It doesn’t follow in the more sedate styling of previous Crowns but still pleasant looking none the less.
    Now if they could just un-ugly all the Lexus’.

  12. I’m yet to fully decide on how I feel about this overall. I’m glad someone else pointed out there are three over variants, all of which I find more attractive, but I have to focus on one thing and that’s the use of genuine leather. I see so many companies moving away from the fascination with stretching dead animals into very non-animal shapes and moving towards using synthetic or environmentally friendly fabrics and compounds. I really would have thought that flashing the words real leather for top trims wouldn’t really sell the same feeling anymore, it feels dated.

  13. About 4 years after they land, you’ll be seeing them at trailheads with Geolander or Grabber AT oversized chunky tires on them.

    I really like the idea of as-needed awd provided by an electric motor on the other axle. I’d prefer it the other way around, tho: rwd ICE fun with push button awd for ice fun.

  14. A crowning achievement for the AARP crowd to buy.

    This is not evolution of the 90’s RWD Crown wagon I’ve been eyeballing to purchase. This is the “easy access” version of an Avalon.

    I’m sure Toyota will sell many to people who have no idea what Crown used to be.

  15. Could they not make this a shooting brake to have it compete up against the Mach-E? Maybe something sportier named than crown?

    I’m challenged to who wants to buy a tall sedan in today’s SUV frenzy.

  16. Toyota’s weird. They would rather reintroduce a car that hasn’t been sold here since ’72 as sort of a Subaru Outback like car but in sedan form, but they’ll leave the long lived Land Cruiser out of the US? Especially in today’s SUV hungry market?

    It’s especially funny because they ended sales for the Land Cruiser because of the Lexus LX570 being sold here. Meanwhile, you introduce a car for a shrinking segment and you expect the customer base to be split between an existing car and this new one? I get that you don’t want to poach sales from the luxury marque, but why do you want to muddy the existing lineup with what will be the same sort of car that’s already offered here?

    Then again, this is Toyota. No matter what they do, their reputation prints them money lol

  17. This is supposed to be a higher end car that appeals to the Avalon crowd? That two-tone paint looks like something you’d put on the GR86, or a “Sport” package for the CH-R, and would be an option I’d pass on.

    And assuming this pushes $50k ,why wouldn’t I buy a Lexus NX? It doesn’t look to be much larger.

  18. This actually strikes me as surprisingly sensible in a world where everyone insists on driving cars that appear to be angry about the allergic reaction that caused them to puff up. There’s a sizeable segment of drivers that wants ride height, so good on Toyota for indulging them without supersizing everything else.

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