Toyota calls our 2023 Crown a “lift-up sedan.” The coinage reminds us that the bard’s line, “A rose by every other title,” works within the different route, too. That’s, the duck-billed platypus and red-lipped batfish would look simply as awkward in the event that they have been named Archangel and Jennifer. The query is, will this lift-up sedan look sweeter or much less awkward to the American market than comparable autos which have preceded it? Can the 2023 Toyota Crown triumph the place, thus far, within the internal-combustion phase, patrons haven’t taken to physique types that splice the sedan and crossover segments?
Admittedly, the pattern measurement is small. The Honda Accord Crosstour will get referred to as up because the go-to comparator. Toyota distances the 2 by noting the Honda was designed to be a sensible crossover with a hatchback, the Crown is a premium sedan with a trunk. There was BMW’s Grand Turismo vary – undoubtedly sedan(ish), undoubtedly premium, undoubtedly short-lived. We may shoehorn the Acura ZDX right here, having approached this phase black gap from the opposite aspect as a lowered crossover coupe as an alternative of an elevated sedan. It, too, bought sucked into the singularity. Challengers: 0. Fast oblivion: 3.
Up to now 27 years, Toyota’s taken three large pictures at mixing established car segments. The primary was the 1994 Leisure Lively Car with 4 Wheel Drive, extra generally often known as the RAV4. On sale right here for the reason that 1996 mannequin 12 months, relentless market ardor made it the fourth-best-selling car within the U.S. in 2021. The advertising and marketing temporary couldn’t have been easier: An SUV that drives like a automobile. Much more essential: There was no mistaking what it was; it regarded like an SUV.
13 years later, the second shot was the 2009 Toyota Venza, which cut up the distinction between the RAV4 minivan and a Camry wagon. Toyota touted it as mixing the “styling and luxury of a passenger automobile with the pliability of a sport utility car.” In-house entrepreneurs tagged it with, “You’re multiple factor. So is Venza.” However reviewers couldn’t come to a consensus on what that one factor was – a troublesome destiny in a classification-obsessed world. I preferred every thing concerning the Venza. However its fulsome utility couldn’t break by the nameless styling, advertising and marketing fugue, and the truth that it value about the identical because the clearly-an-SUV Toyota Highlander. In 10 years on sale within the U.S., the Venza bought about as many models because the RAV4 did in 2014.
Fourteen years later, the Crown marks Toyota’s third shot down the hole. Don Johnson, product supervisor at Toyota Product Training, instructed us we’re getting this physique fashion out of the 4 new Crown variants as a result of “Toyota is not going to abandon the sedan market,” clarifying that Toyota does take into account this a sedan. Nicely, Toyota USA does; Toyota Japan’s English language press supplies consult with this physique as a crossover. The cynical take could be that if an automaker goes to cling to the sedan phase within the U.S., that automaker will want one thing like a crossover to do it.
The concept of a bit raise, Johnson instructed us, was to “Give individuals leaving the sedan market a cause to remain, an opportunity to get what they need from a sedan and a crossover.” With the previous, meaning extra dynamic dealing with. With the latter, meaning increased sight traces and simpler ingress and egress. And once more that trunk, which patrons are anticipated to learn as a noteworthy distinction from earlier, comparable autos.
There’s subtext right here as nicely, in that Toyota isn’t making an attempt to maintain Avalon patrons. Ash Hack, car sequence supervisor in Toyota Car Advertising and marketing and Communications, instructed us, “The Avalon’s median [buyer] age was 66. The Crown is taking pictures at [the age bracket] 35-59 with a $125,000 median revenue.” That’s the tip of the Boomer tail, all of a extra prosperous Gen X, and a piece of Gen Y who will admire the Crown’s “daring and putting innovation for the mannequin and sophistication,” as Toyota PR instructed us.
Volvo and Subaru have made hay with ICE-powered lifted wagons. To date, although, U.S. patrons have solely excused electrical sedan-CUV hybrids. Even then, we’re speaking about autos that clearly appear to be crossovers smushed to sedan top. The Crown matches the bottom clearance of the outgoing Avalon. The bottom clearances of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Volkswagen ID.4, Kia EV6, and Polestar 2 are a mere 0.2 inch to 1.5 inches increased than the Avalon. However their roof heights are 4 to eight inches increased they usually have hatchbacks, in order that they’re crossovers so far as patrons are involved. Appears buyers will ignore blurry particulars for a fast, acquainted reply to, “What’s it?”
So there’s little question the Crown’s a daring transfer within the class – if it even has a category – and that it ups Toyota’s hybrid sport. The corporate’s ready till nearer to media drives to surrender particulars on tech just like the rear axle motors, driving modes, stiffer springs, and the electronically managed braking system. However we all know the Crown represents the primary time Toyota’s tuned a hybrid system for dynamic rewards and paired it with a conventional automated transmission in a passenger automobile. Going additional to meet the Crown’s tech legacy, engineers developed the multi-plate moist begin clutch to interchange the standard torque converter and supply higher in-gear punch.
Since that is an opinion piece, I can say I’d give the Crown a greater probability of constructing a market impression if it have been prettier and/or electrical. The automobile does look higher in particular person, and the monotone shade is the way in which to go for the much less daring amongst us. The bi-tone paint job carves out the sedan’s particulars in much less elegant methods than I’d favor. And irrespective of the colour, it’s exhausting to unsee the Nissan Maxima-esque traces within the rear three-quarter as soon as detected.
The sudden form incorporates sudden selections all through. The nickel-metal hydride battery feels like a throwback. Toyota mentioned that alternative “was concerning the availability of parts for mass manufacturing. However there have been effectivity positive aspects with Ni-MH, so the sort works for proper now. After all, the writing’s on the wall.” That’s maybe extra subtext, Toyota deciding it didn’t wish to fear about lithium-ion battery supplies for even the Crown’s small pack. Whither our electrical car future. …
Different intrigues embody the handbook prop used to carry up the curt hood; the Avalon comes with two hydraulic struts. We have been instructed, “Homeowners don’t actually raise the hoods anymore.” Hack described the Crown at pace as “Extremely quiet – the purpose was to make it as quiet as potential inside.” Standing outdoors, although, the Hybrid Max powertrain on the performance-oriented Platinum trim makes the identical dreary buzz as a frugal Toyota hybrid minus the frugality.
Inside, essentially the most upscale inside accessible is Softex artificial leather-based trim with perforated leather-based inserts within the seats, normal on the Restricted and the Platinum. Solely the mid-grade Restricted will get the selection of an inside shade aside from black, with Macadamia and Chestnut/Black on the menu. Contemplating Toyota has Lexus to guard, and our suspicion that the Crown’s MSRP received’t be far off the Lexus ES, the Crown’s cabin is … fantastic. We daresay we would find yourself pondering the Avalon Restricted cabin – providing three shades of premium, real leather-based – is nicer.
Having lately develop into a choose for the World Automobile of the Yr Awards, I look ahead to getting the solutions and evaluating the Crown to each the Avalon it replaces and the competitors. To date, with out having pushed it, I don’t see the Crown because the mannequin to flee the hex on this mashup class, feeling much less RAV4 and extra Venza: The Sequel. However who is aware of; I may need mentioned the identical concerning the platypus and batfish if I have been a biologist, and we see how that turned out.