Toyota Is Bringing Back the Crown

After 50 years, the Crown returns to our shores, this time as a lifted sedan with polarizing styling.

Lawrence Ulrich | 
Jan 25, 2023 | 5 min read

Capital One

While a longstanding model in Japan, the Toyota Crown hasn’t graced U.S. dealerships for five decades. But now, Toyota is bringing the nameplate back. We’d wager few Americans remember the original Crown, though, which is just as well, given the new one is a far cry from that conventional four-door sedan of yore. In fact, the new model—with its on-tiptoes stance, industrial-strength grille, decorative body cladding, and fastback roof—looks like nothing else in Toyota’s showrooms either.

The 2023 model blends the basic shape of a sedan with the elevated posture of an SUV, making a concoction that—like green juices—will strike some folks as deliciously good for you and make others gag. It replaces the staid Avalon, the kind of traditional full-size sedan that consumers have largely rejected. Ed Kim, president of AutoPacific, says the Crown advances Toyota’s bid to ditch an image as a maker of predictable, vanilla cars and crossovers: “Toyota is trying to break out of its mold and show [it] can do unusual and interesting [vehicles] in addition to bread-and-butter cars.”

1958 Toyopet CrownToyota

A Little Background on the Toyota Crown

The original Toyopet Crown became the first Japanese car exported to America in 1958. Despite some sophisticated features, including a double-wishbone front suspension and two-speed windshield wipers, the dinky, wildly underpowered sedan struggled to coexist with tailfin monsters and America’s fast-moving highways. The cutesy Toyopet name likely didn’t help.

Toyota sold just 287 examples by the end of 1958. That chilly reception caused the automaker to briefly suspend Crown exports in 1960 and go back to the drawing board. A couple of years later, the model returned after a significant revision, but it now shared a showroom with the Corona. The smaller sedan’s success came at the expense of the Crown, which left the U.S. lineup after 1972. That said, the model has continued to thrive elsewhere in the world, remaining in production for more than 60 years and 15 generations in Japan.

2023 Toyota CrownToyota

The 2023 Toyota Crown Takes a New Direction

While technically a sedan, the 2023 Toyota Crown leans into the crossover segment, but is nearly four inches taller than a Camry, a change that improves outward visibility, ground clearance, and entry and exit. According to Kim, that’s a boon to boomers or empty-nesters who may be the car’s natural audience. And while the Crown has a fully enclosed trunk like other sedans, the sloped tail mimics the hatchback shape of SUVs like the Audi Q5 Sportback.

The styling may seem risky, but Kim points out there are many examples of cars with polarizing designs that ended up doing well in the marketplace, from today’s BMW X6 to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. “Fifty percent of people may hate [this Crown], but the other 50% are enthusiastic and satisfied,” he says. Besides, because the vehicle shares its architecture with most front-drive-based Toyota, the company will enjoy economies of scale that allow it to take a chance on a car with niche appeal.

2023 Toyota CrownToyota

As for the name, “Crown” certainly rolls off the tongue better than, say, Toyota’s “bZ4X,” which seems as memorable as an internet router password. And while it doesn’t fit into neat categories, the 2023 Crown comes into focus as a familiar Toyota: practical, trustworthy, and family-friendly.

2023 Toyota Crown Hybrid Powertrain Options

The new model will offer two hybrid powertrains. Base XLE and mid-level Limited models pair a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with front and rear electric motors for a total of 236 horsepower, managed through a continuously variable transmission. The top-of-the-line Platinum edition comes with a conventional six-speed automatic and is a relative powerhouse: A motor-enhanced, turbocharged, 2.4-liter generates 340 horsepower, an output on par with that of many luxury sedans. Toyota calls this powertrain Hybrid Max. Platinum performance should take a bite out of fuel economy, however. The 2023 Toyota Crown is rated by the EPA for an estimated 30 mpg in combined driving for the more powerful model versus 41 mpg for the standard hybrid trims.

2023 Toyota CrownToyota

While the Crown comes standard with on-demand all-wheel drive, there’s actually no mechanical connection between the engine and rear wheels. The hybrid setup powers the front axle, leaving rear propulsion up to an electric motor. The Platinum model features adaptive dampers that may add a touch of sport to the handling equation.

2023 Toyota CrownToyota

Toyota Crown Interior Features

The Crown’s interior is less daring than the exterior, boasting the all-but-obligatory 12.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s joined by a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, wireless device charging, and Wi-Fi. On the driver-assistance front, there’s standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, automatic high-beams, and lane-departure warning with steering assist. Limited and Platinum models bring goodies such as leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.

2023 Toyota Crown Price

Toyota has revealed Crown pricing, with the sedan starting around $41,000 when it reaches the market in early 2023. The well-equipped Platinum models start above $53,000. Kim agrees that’s a lot of money for any car with a Toyota badge, especially when acclaimed models from top luxury brands—such as the Genesis G80 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class—overlap this pricing. “It’ll take a special person to spend that much for a Toyota sedan,” Kim says.

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Lawrence Ulrich

Lawrence Ulrich is an award-winning auto writer and regular contributor for a variety of national newspapers, magazines, and web sites. He and his territorial cat are Brooklyn-based. Lawrence is also the proud owner of a fast-but-frustrating 1993 Mazda RX-7 twin-turbo R1.