The Toyota Avalon has been the brand’s flagship in the US for almost 30 years, but now Toyota has decided to move in a different direction, which sees the Avalon disappear. In its place we have the 2023 Crown, a high-riding sedan that will change what you expect from a sedan. It’s no secret that sedans are not as desirable as crossovers, so it makes sense that Toyota tries to combine the attributes of both a sedan and crossover for the Crown. Will buyers gravitate towards it? We’ll have to see once it goes on sale in early 2023.
The Crown badge may seem new to most buyers, but the nameplate has been around since 1955 in Japan. Compared to the Camry, the Crown is 3.7-inches taller. That extra height makes getting in and out of the Crown easier than a traditional sedan and also satisfies buyer’s desires to ride higher. In terms of styling, the Crown looks like nothing else in the brand’s current lineup. Toyota says that it paired up a seasoned designer with a younger designer to come up with the bold styling. The two-tone paint was something that the younger designer wanted.
The Crown is a hybrid-only affair, with two hybrid powertrain options. The XLE and Limited trim levels get a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s mated to three electric motors, to give it 236 horsepower. The base powertrain is mated to a continuously variable transmission that powers the front wheels. The rear axle gets its own electric motor giving the Crown all-wheel drive, but it only comes online when extra traction is needed. The base powertrain is adequate, but not punchy enough to give it impressive a 0-60 time at 7.6 seconds. The good news is that the base powertrain has a combined EPA rating of 41 mpg.
The better powertrain is the new Hybrid Max system that’s only available in the Platinum. The powertrain mates a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder to two electric motors to generate a combined 340 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the base powertrain, the Hybrid Max system always has the rear electric motor engaged. The good news is that the Hybrid Max system is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT. With that extra power, the Crown can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, but its combined fuel economy slips to 30 mpg. In addition to the power boost, the Platinum trim level also adds adaptive dampers to make it more fun to drive on those curvy roads.
After testing out both powertrains, the base powertrain is adequate and can easily get the Crown up to speed. Not surprisingly, the Hybrid Max is the more exciting option with its extra power and better sounding four-cylinder. We wouldn’t call either Crown fast, but the Hybrid Max is easily the one to choose if you want to have a bit more fun. Since the Crown’s ride height is only slightly taller than the Camry, it’s no surprise that the Crown feels more like a sedan than a crossover on the road. The high-riding sedan feels planted to the road with the adaptive suspension, since body-roll is reduced in Sport S Plus mode.
Inside the Crown’s cabin is not as bold as the exterior. Everything is laid out well, without any flashy parts, like Piano Black trim that seems to be the norm now. The cabin is wrapped in high quality materials, but it doesn’t feel as premium as the Platinum’s $50k price would suggest. There’s a bit more hard plastic than we’d expect. On the center of the dashboard there’s a 12.3-inch touchscreen and there’s an additional 12.3-inch digital screen in front of the driver. The infotainment system features Toyota’s new Audio Multimedia system, which is a massive improvement over the old Entune system. The new system has clear graphics and is responsive.
In terms of safety, the Crown comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which is the latest version of Toyota’s suite of driver assistance features. The suite includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. A new Proactive Driving Assist feature helps the Crown maintain a distance between pedestrians and cyclists.
The pricing for the 2023 Toyota Crown starts at $41,045 for the base Crown XLE, including destination. The Limited trim level starts at $46,595 and the Platinum is priced at $53,445.
At the end of the day, the Crown is a worthy successor to the Avalon. It’s fresh take on what you expect from a sedan helps it stand out and its standard hybrid powertrains provide the efficiency that buyers want. Will buyers see the Crown as anything other than a big sedan? Only time will tell, but kudos to Toyota for trying something new.