This is your 2023 Toyota Crown, returning unrecognizable after a long hiatus from our shores. The Crown debuted in Japan in 1955, making it Toyota’s oldest passenger car name. Akin to a Japanese E-Class, over the Crown’s 15 continuous generations in its homeland it’s known for launching new technology to Toyota's range, as a chauffeured ride for potentates, and for being a taxi. Toyota sold it in the U.S. from 1958 to 1972. The closest we’ve been to it since then was the Lexus GS, which used Crown platforms and powertrains.
JONATHAN RAMSEY: Say hello to an old friend who went away, got a makeover, and came back unrecognizable. This is the 2023 Toyota Crown. Now, Crown is Toyota's oldest passenger car nameplate, introduced in 1955 on a front engine rear wheel drive passenger car.
It was the first passenger car developed entirely in Japan, Toyota's first mass market passenger car. And over 15 continuous generations in Japan, it's been known for introducing technology to the lineup. That includes speed sensitive steering, airbags, and a front wishbone suspension. The closest we got to it since it left our market in 1972 is the Lexus GS.
The XLE and limited trims come with the Toyota hybrid system that we know from plenty of other vehicles. It comes with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, shifts to a six-speed continuously variable transmission. It has 236 system horsepower, which is 17 more than the RAV4. Combined fuel economy, because it's focused on frugality, it's 38 miles per gallon, which is 2 less than the RAV4.
The big first for this car is the hybrid max powertrain. This is a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Combined system horsepower is 340 horsepower. It shifts through a six-speed automatic with a new multi-plate wet clutch that replaces the torque converter, gives you better response, but that brings combined fuel economy down to 28 miles per gallon.
Now, with the return of the Crown, Toyota says it is reimagining the full sized sedan. What does that mean? Since this effectively replaces the Avalon, we're getting a high-riding Avalon. Dimensions-- it is about 2 inches shorter than Avalon. Everything else is within about an inch, except for ride height, which is 4 inches higher and the roof, which is 4 inches higher.
Hip point as well is 4 inches higher, which gives you that commanding seating position that buyers of vehicles like these enjoy. You also get all-wheel drive. Every Crown runs both axles, has the ability to. The base system on the XLE and limited is E4. And that sends 100% of the torque to the front normally, and sends up to 80% to the rear when you need it.
The other new thing for this vehicle is E4 advanced. That's in 72% maximum to the front and up to 80% in back. On E4 advanced, though, you get a water-cooled electric motor in back. That gives you better response and apportions the pork in a much more dynamic way than you get on the regular E4.
Also, it's been a while since we've had a, well, bi-tone Toyota come out. But on the platinum edition, only platinum trim, you get this bi-tone paint job, which is black from front to back, with any one of these special colors on the side, including a new Bronze Age. And for anyone who wants to know what makes this not a cross tour, a trunk, not a liftback.
And we're told it can fit three golf bags without putting the back seats down. So I am 5'11. And with the driver's seat where I like it, plenty of room. You have to step up to the limited and platinum to get the panoramic roof, so the XLE should have even more room, but I'm totally happy here.
This is your new Crown premium sedan. Now, part of the premiumness will probably come through in the noise abatement measures Toyota says it took. We don't have a decibel level, but the company says it stressed occupants being able to have easy conversation and enjoy the music. Speaking of music, the XLE comes with these bass six-speaker system. The limited and the platinum come with a JBL 11-speaker system.
Now, every crown comes with a 12.3-inch driver display and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. This is Toyota's latest infotainment-- wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, over-the-air updates. On the platinum, you also get standard bird's eye view that can be optioned on the limited. As for the interior, on the XLE, you get black fabric only. On the limited, you get fabric and soft text trimming. And on the platinum, you get black leather and this tasty piping.
Only the platinum, because it comes with a six-speed transmission, has paddle shifters. I also get two extra driving modes on the XLE. And limited, it's normal sport and eco. On the platinum, normal sport, eco, sport plus, comfort, and custom allows me to set the car up with that racy rear motor in back and the all-wheel drive all the time, the way I might like it if I want to have fun.
What we're going to find out, though, and only find out then when the car goes on sale later this year, is whether this is the high-riding sedan to succeed where others have not. Welcome back, Crown.