2023 Toyota Crown

PHOENIX — Following a nearly 30-year run Toyota retired its large-sized sedan the Avalon last year after the 2022 model run. Not surprising since Americans have had an insatiable love affair with trucks and SUVs with sedans of all sizes taking the brunt of their popularity. Yet there's still a few sedans — Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Corolla as example have rather held their ground amongst the stampede and don't look to be sent out to pasture anytime soon.

As with most anything that ends there's the introduction of a new beginning and in the case of the demise of the Avalon, Toyota has reintroduced the Crown sedan for 2023 after exiting the U.S. market in 1972. Most won't be familiar with the Crown appellation that dates back to 1955 and is Toyota's longest-running nameplate. And, for trivia buffs it, not the land Cruiser was the first Toyota imported to the United States.  

Making its U.S. debut the Crown like the discontinued Avalon is a full-size sedan and as with the Venza, Sienna, Prius and Sequoia is only available as a hybrid. Crown is available in two hybrid powertrains and three trim levels. The base XLE and Limited powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with three electric motors that develops a combined 236 horsepower through a continuously variable transmission.  The rear axle is electric-only—there's no driveshaft—and its motor makes 54 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque.

The top-shelf Platinum trim gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors to deliver 340 horsepower and 400-pound-feet of torque and uses a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard either way although the base and Limited is front-wheel-drive powered until the Crown senses wheel slippage and the rear wheels engage when traction is needed. Platinum is all-wheel drive all the time. Fuel economy for the XLE and Limited has an impressive EPA combined rating of 41-mpg while the Platinum drops to 30-mpg combined.

Outside, the design straddles the middle ground between a sedan and a crossover utility vehicle with the benefits of a comfortable family sedan but with a bit more ride and seating height. That comes with the help of large 19-inch multi-spoke two-tone alloy wheels on the XLE and Limited and 21-inch machined 10-spoke wheels on the Platinum, the largest Toyota has ever offered on a production car. Buyers can opt for optional 21-inch wheels on the XLE and Limited that come as part of the Advanced-Technology Package ($2950) that also includes a panoramic view monitor, remote connect w/digital key capability and 4G network.

Toyota loaned us a Limited Crown finished in a gorgeous Supersonic Red ($425) and optional 21-inch gunmetal alloy wheels that looked enormous yet extremely attractive on our test vehicle.

Perhaps the strongest selling point for the Crown is its distinctive, eye-catching exterior looks that will be polarizing yet innovative. Its overall looks somewhat suggest a Mercedes GLE Coupe or X6 BMW. We think the styling favors a sedan made for those who want a crossover. At just over 60 inches high, 72.4 inches wide, an overall length of 194 inches, and a 112-inch wheelbase, the Toyota Crown is bigger than other sedans with  a less conventional style.

The roof has a dramatic slope to the rear deckled that we thought was an especially nice touch. Up front the grille is a huge black maw much like the Avalon it replaced. A two-tone exterior paint option is available for the Platinum which includes a black hood and rear deck treatment to go along with the Supersonic Red and gold-ish Bronze Age exterior finish. It's a love it or hate look but eye-catching to be sure.

Inside the cabin, Limited and Platinum trim levels get ventilated leather seats and Toyota's new infotainment system including wireless Apple CarPlay and the wireless phone charger that works consistently unlike most offerings from other manufacturers. There's two 12.3 inch screens, one for the digital gauge cluster and the other for the infotainment  system.

Build quality, fit and finish is impeccable but materials are otherwise basic with no shortage of hard plastics. There's a panoramic roof  but headroom especially in the rear seat is minimal at best and taller passengers will experience a sense of claustrophobia with their head brushing the inside roof headliner. Overall, the interior is nothing special and breaks no new ground. The interior design just doesn't wow and definitely doesn't match the styling flair of the exterior styling.

On the road our Limited Crown delivered a smooth, quiet ride quality with cornering relatively flat with minimum body roll for such a large sedan. Brakes were especially precise with short stopping distances. Engine power and acceleration is nowhere near a sporty feel and Toyota claims a respectable 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds. It does have an impressive EPA combined fuel-economy rating of 41-mpg. We expect Toyota will offer a plug-in hybrid variant for the Crown in the very near future that will certainly improve the 41-combined mpg rating.

Overall with a starting price of $41,045 for an XLE and up to $53,445 for a Platinum we'd say the Crown's value proposition is as questionable as its design style. Toyota is targeting about 20,000 Crown sales a year which seems a bit aggressive but if your preference is a larger sedan vs a crossover utility vehicle we think it's the best-in-class choice.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $46,550
Price as Tested: $50,020
Engine/Transmission: 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline 4-cylinder plus 3 AC motors the combines for 236 horsepower; nickel-metal hydride battery pack, standard all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission.
EPA Fuel Economy: 42/41/41 MPG - City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Where Built: Aichi, Japan

Crash Test Safety Rating: The 2023 Toyota Crown has not been crash tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of this writing.

Competes With:
Chrysler 300 (soon to be discontinued)
Dodge Charger (soon to be discontinued)
Kia Stinger (to be discontinued after 2024 model year)
Nissan Maxima (soon to be discontinued)

Excellent fuel economy
Standard all-wheel drive
Stylish exterior design

Short on headroom
Uninteresting/humdrum interior
Questionable value proposition

— Jim Prueter