For far too long Toyota has been humiliated by the fact that only their rival Nissan has managed to crack the code about how to transform an AWD crossover into an awkward, four-seat convertible that has since become part of automotive legend, the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. And, sure, the Murano CrossCab was discontinued only one short decade ago due to poor sales, but that doesn’t mean Toyota hasn’t been stewing and plotting every single day since then. And now we have the results of that decade of hand-rubbing and plotting, as revealed yesterday at the Sumo capital of the world, Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium: the Toyota Crown Open.
Yes, according to Kurama News (though I admit I first saw it here on Carscoops) the genesis for the Crown convertible was originally to commemorate the centenary of Sumo in 2025; a Toyota Century convertible was eventually used for the event, but it seems the initial idea was to use Toyota’s new Crown, according to Chairman Akio Toyoda, via Kurama News:
“It was originally planned to be based on the 16th generation Crown (crossover), which was unveiled to the world for the first time on July 15, 2022, and Chairman Akio Toyoda said, “Actually, we also prepared a Crown convertible.”
It seems the idea of a Crown convertible has been in Toyota’s collective mind for a long time, even being noted when the new Crown was first unveiled in 2022. This new Crown Open was first seen in this video from Toyo Times, even before the public showing at the Sumo stadium. This video shows the earlier Century convertible as well as the Crown Open, so you get to see it all:
Interestingly and unlike its rival the Nissan Murano CrossCab, the Crown Open keeps its four doors, putting it in a very small and exclusive class of four-door convertibles that includes such deeply elegant cars as the Lincoln Continental and Volkswagen Thing. The video also notes that 3D printing was used to fabricate some of the parts, which makes sense given that this is just a one-off. So far.
In the video, Head of Design Simon Humphries notes something obvious, but worth remembering about convertibles:
“What’s different from a normal car is that you can see people. The people sitting in the car are also part of the design.”
We all know this, of course, but in the context of automotive design, you can normally not have to think about the people inside the car, as disheveled and unshowered as they may be. But in a convertible, at least one of those is going to be part of the car’s look, at least when it’s in motion. Ideally.
The “elegant flowing design,” as described in the video, was important to maintain, and I think generally the designers managed to pull it off. The rear is the most difficult part to adapt, and here the sloping rear window was replaced with a glossy black top cover that flows into the black sections of the Crown’s trunk and rear fascia quite well.
This video also has some commentary from Vice President Hiroki Nakajima:
“Convertible cars are extremely difficult items both technically and in terms of manufacturing skills.It is true that people admire convertible cars, which are often seen in the United States and other countries. They have a DNA that makes them want to drive while feeling the breeze.”
I’m not exactly where this idea around the world that the U.S. is full of convertibles comes from. Maybe it’s true statistically that we have more than other countries, but not every trip to the pornography outlet store is surrounded by the flowing hair of convertible-enjoyers. I wish it were!
More importantly, finally Toyota can go head-to-head with a car that was almost universally derided and has been out of production since 2014. I am happy to say the cruel, monopolistic tyranny of the Murano CrossCabriolet (shown above) is no more, thanks to Toyota’s crack team of one-off designers and engineers.
The Crown Open is so far just likely to remain a one off, though it was suggested it could be rented out for big events, and, I suppose, the occasional Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
[Editor’s Note: While digging into this convertible a little bit, I stumbled upon this version of the Toyota Crown: The “Sport-type PHEV.” It’s a 300+ horsepower all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid hatchback, and it looks fantastic:
The all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid system promises over 50 miles of EV-only range (not on the U.S. cycle, but still), which is fantastic:
And just look at this interior!:
Sadly, MSRP in Japan is over $50 grand equivalent. Yikes! -DT].
Screenshots from Toyota Times, Sport-type images from Toyota, Nissan Murano image from Nissan
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