I remember when I drove the Toyota Crown back in – holy crap, over a year ago – I thought it was a sort of novel car because it was a sedan/fastback body on a sort of SUV-like big tires/higher ride height platform. You know, like an AMC Eagle!
Also, Toyota sells it with a novel two-tone paint scheme. And now, just today, Toyota announced that there would be a wagon version of the Crown, called the Crown Signia, something which we had been clued in about for a while, and now I’m in the strange position of encountering a car where, somehow the wagon version is the less interesting version! How did this happen? What does this mean? Well, let’s dig into this thing and see.
First, let me refresh your memory about what the sedan version of the Crown looks like:
See, it’s a bit unusual, with that fastback/3-box body on those big wheels and the two-tone color scheme. Now, let’s look at the Crown Signia – a dumb name, I’d like to note, sounding a bit like a Sith lord name, the kind that is a word minus a starting -in, like Darth Vader (invavder), Darth Sidious (insidious), Darth Continent (incontinent), and now Darth Signia (insignia)– and I think you’ll see that it now just feels like, well, any SUV:
See? It’s not bad looking, but it definitely just feels like any premium-ish SUV, especially in profile. Here it is stacked with the sedan to really make the difference apparent. The front end has a Corporate Face that we first saw on the handsome new Prius, with its horseshoe-shaped headlamps and “monochromatic” grille and an overall look that Toyota calls their
“Toyota Hammerhead front end, which consists of a signature DRL and compact headlight unit and geometric lower grille.”
Plus, look at those smug bastards with their yoga mats and presumably intact teeth: I bet they came right off the Crown Signia’s mood board.
It’s handsome enough, I suppose, but is it actually interesting, like the Crown sedan sort of is? I don’t really think so.
The interior is kind of interesting in how aggressively divided it is. Look at that center-stack bar, how it bisects that interior and separates the driver and passenger. If anti-canoodling methods are your primary motivation when seeking a new car, then I think you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than the Signia.
I’m not sure if I like this; what if I’m driving and I want to enjoy a nice, enthusiastically-consented-to grope? I’d have to really contort my arm there, wouldn’t I?
Beyond that, it looks pretty comfortable in there, with leather in a color Toyota calls “Saddle Tan.” The rear seat folds flat, and when it does so, you have a 6.5-foot-long cargo area, so that means you tall weirdos can sleep back there, if you need to.
Oh good, more yoga mats.
Technically, the Crown Signia is able to move at car-like speeds thanks to a hybrid drivetrain composed of a 2.5-liter inline-four and two motor/generators, producing a combined 243 horsepower and manages 36 mpg. Those are decent, if not shocking numbers, and there’s a rear-mounted motor for the rear wheels to provide all-wheel drive capability as well.
Oh, and Toyota says it’ll tow 2,700 pounds, enough to pull a middling-sized rhinoceros.
The Crown Signa is built on the TNGA-K platform, the same as the Highlander and the Rav4, among many other cars. This seems like it’ll be pushed a bit upmarket of the Highlander, though no official pricing has been revealed just yet.
As expected, the Crown Signa comes with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which is Toyota’s foray into some driving automation, and includes:
• Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
• Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
• Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
• Lane Tracing Assist
• Road Sign Assist
• Automatic High Beams
• Proactive Driving Assist
Is any of this unexpected on a modern car? Not really. Toyota also seems to be offering a limited-speed Level 3 semi-automated driving system, specifically for traffic jams:
It also has the available advanced functionality of Traffic Jam Assist when equipped with the Limited Tech Package. Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) is a driver-assistance feature that helps ease the burden of the stressful stop-and-go of a traffic jam. With an active Drive Connect subscription or trial, this system provides hands-free control of the vehicle steering, braking and acceleration at speeds under 25 mph under certain conditions. TJA is designed for limited access roadways, and the driver monitor camera must confirm the driver’s eyes are on the road for hands-free operation.
I’m very curious about how these sort of L3 systems will be implemented, especially regarding handoffs between car and driver, so I guess I need to see how these play out.
So, overall, the takeaway here? It’s a premium SUV. When I first heard about this I’ll admit I was picturing a more stylish and low station wagon, but it looks like that’s not the case, and the modern car market seems to force everything into SUV form, like what nature does with crabs.
It seems like a nice enough premium SUV, I suppose. I’m sure those people and their yoga mats will be very happy with theirs.