Vintage Name Returns to the United States
The Toyota Crown has been around since 1955 in Japan, and was the first Toyota model exported to the United States in 1957, where it was sold until 1960. Sixty-three years later and in its 16th generation, the Crown has returned to the United States as a crossover, or as Toyota calls it, a “lifted sedan.” This is one of four Crown models in the line-up, including the Sport (hatchback), Sedan and Estate (Crossover/SUV.) Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to be among the first to drive the all-new 2023 Crown crossover, reported here in this Flash Drive story. When we have the Crown for a week or more we will post a Road Test review.
A country cruiser
The all-wheel drive 2023 Crown comes with two hybrid engine choices. The base, in the XLE and Unlimited trims, is simply called Hybrid. Its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder produces 184 horsepower (hp) and 163 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque driving all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The more powerful Hybrid Max, only available in the Platinum model, is a turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 340 hp and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. It features a 6-speed automatic. Both hybrid systems have front and rear electric motors with the Max having more power and torque; both run on 87 octane.
Two ooptions under the hood
As the power, torque and transmissions indicate, the Hybrid Max does 0-60 mph runs in 5.7 seconds while the Hybrid comes in at 7.6 seconds. During our time at the Crown media launch program in Nashville, the difference between the two felt larger as the Hybrid Max has the makings of a sports crossover, while the Hybrid will be more at home as a commuter and running errands in-town.
Toyota’s hybrid system automatically switches between the electric drive mode, combined electric motor and gasoline engine and gasoline-only engine power. The undetectable and seamless transitions have the Crown Hybrid fuel economy rated at 42 mpg city/41 highway/41 combined, and the more powerful Hybrid Max at 29 city/32 highway/30 combined. The improved performance of the Hybrid Max is the reason for the huge drop-off in fuel efficiency, which will be an important consideration when deciding which Crown to buy. Do you need to go fast and fill-up more, or go slower and drive further? Maybe the $12,400 price difference will come into play too.
Our time behind the wheel driving both hybrid systems clearly showed their differences and similarities. Their similarities are that each have regenerative braking, which converts kinetic energy into electric energy and stores it in the nickel-metal-hydride battery. They also both have the same power-assisted front ventilated disc and solid rear disc brakes that worked well for the Hybrid. When hustling the sportier Hybrid Max through Nashville’s backcountry roads, they could have been a bit stronger and more responsive. This is where Toyota may have made the Hybrid Max, which they call their “all-new performance hybrid,” too powerful for its brakes.
Driving ’til the cows come home
The main driving difference is from the different transmissions. The CVT, the only transmission available in the XLE and Limited, felt sluggish. When under stress and demand, it droned noticeably. Pushed to full power, when climbing a grade or passing another vehicle, it would stay too long in the last CVT band before kicking-down after lifting off the accelerator pedal. On the other hand, the Hybrid Max’s 6-speed automatic performed flawlessly and was a pleasure to drive. So, back to that $12,400 premium for the Hybrid Max. It not only goes faster, but it does so delivering a far more enjoyable driving experience.
The Crown is a comfortable midsize crossover with a smooth ride. It was easy to drive on highway cruising, but in-town driving is where both hybrid engines shine. The suspension on the two was the same, except for the Hybrid Max having a bit larger diameter front and rear stabilizer bars. The electric power steering was direct, but a bit light when pushing country lane corners in the Platinum Hybrid Max. The 21-inch 225/45 tires on the Platinum were a welcome upgrade to the 19-inch 225/55 tires on the XLE and Limited, as anything to help grip is appreciated.
Riding a bit higher
Toyota’s term for the 2023 Crown as a lifted sedan is technically correct, as they say it has an “elevated ride height.” With a 5.8-inch ground clearance the Crown does ride a bit higher than the Camry at 5.7-inches. So if you are looking for a vehicle with a more commanding outlook on the road, the Crown does have a skosh higher ride height.
The Crown is an all-new design direction for Toyota, and one we like. Gone are the sharp edges and massive scoops and grilles replaced with an aerodynamic shape and flowing lines. We particularly liked the nose and tail and how they utilized LED lighting for a clean look. The sloping roofline, extending to the tiny spoiler on the deck lid, is one of the features that give the Crown a unique silhouette.
Welcome to the 16th generation
The three trim levels have similar interiors, with the Platinum getting the most upgrades. The Limited shares leather seats with the Platinum while the XLE gets fabric seats with synthetic leather trim. The front seats were comfortable and come with power adjustments. The split 60/40 rear seat comfortably can handle three adults, two for longer trips, and has a fold down center armrest with cup holders.
All models get a 12.3-inch touchscreen for the 11-speaker JBL premium audio system on the Platinum and Limited, while the XLE gets a 6-speaker Toyota set-up. All have Apple Car Play, Android Auto and SiriusXM, with wireless phone charging, and come with the ability to control features on the Crown with voice commands such as “Hey, Toyota!” Head-up display is not available.
The Crown is well-equipped with active and passive safety features and comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. This system includes adaptive cruise control with lane tracing assist, automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert and sonar clearance and automatic high beams.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2023 Toyota Crown comes in three trim levels, with these base prices which include the mandatory $1,095 delivery processing and handling fee.
Three Crowns, no waiting
The 2023 Crown has these warranties.
- Hybrid Battery – 10 years/150,000 miles
- Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
- Comprehensive – Three years/36,000 miles
- Maintenance Plan – Two years/25,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Two years/25,000 miles
- Corrosion Perforation – Five years/Unlimited miles
Observations: 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid XSE
The 2023 Crown is an all-new model for Toyota and America. The shape is unique to the market, which Toyota hopes will attract a broad range of potential buyers.
The only way to decide which hybrid power plant is right for your driving needs and lifestyle is to drive each model for more than a quick spin around the dealership. Tell the sales associate you want to go on the highway to test the onramp acceleration and some corners to checkout the handling.
The 2023 Toyota Crown is a comfortable car with a quiet cabin, and a large trunk that will handle your gear on a long, fuel-efficient road trip. Built in Japan, the Crown is an economical five-passenger, midsize “lifted sedan” that should cover your driving needs, whether it be commuting, in-town errands or hitting the open road.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Toyota.
More on the Toyota crossover line-up:
Road Test: 2017 Toyota 4Runner
Flash Drive: 2023 Toyota BZ4X EV
Road Test: 2020 Toyota C-HR
News: 2023 Toyota & Lexus New Products
Road Test: 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Road Test: 2021 RAV4 Prime PHEV
Road Test: 2019 Toyota RAV4
News: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Road Test: 2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Clean Fleet Report. He has more than 30 years’ experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent’s 1950 Studebaker. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.