2023 Toyota Crown sedan debuts with Hybrid Max muscle and SUV duds

The 2023 Toyota Crown will be the first model in the U.S. to offer the automaker’s Hybrid Max performance-hybrid system, which drives the wheels directly with electric motor torque both at the front and rear, Toyota revealed early Friday. 

What’s the Crown, you ask? If you take a look at the full-size Avalon Hybrid sedan, you already have a pretty good picture. Now add some faux-rugged black-plastic SUV cladding, raise the roofline a little bit, and sit on a booster seat.

Yup, it’s still a sedan—just, as Toyota puts it, a “reimagined” one. The trim is potentially just a trick to redirect the eyes because, at 194 inches long and built on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, with a width of 72.4 inches, it’s close in all key dimensions to the outgoing Avalon. Overall height and seating height together have been boosted about four inches, with the former now at 60.6 inches; but that’s certainly not the tallest sedan we can think of (the now-discontinued Ford Taurus is one). Toyota says that the Crown has a higher ride height than the Avalon, but with the company unwilling to release that spec yet it might only amount to a fraction of an inch. 

2023 Toyota Crown2023 Toyota Crown

The Crown, like the Venza crossover and Sienna minivan, goes hybrid-only; but here there are two completely different hybrid systems—one that emphasizes performance, the other emphasizing efficiency, with both providing all-wheel-drive traction. 

Crown XLE and Limited versions come with a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine with the latest version of Toyota’s planetary-gear-based hybrid system, adding a third motor to power only the rear wheels. 

As for Hybrid Max, this Toyota version of the Lexus Direct4 performance-hybrid system pairs a 2.4-liter turbo-4 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and strong motors front and rear, for a combined 323 hp—22 hp more than the V-6 Avalon—and a kick of EV-like torque and power delivery that is uninterrupted by shifts. Toyota says the all-wheel-drive distribution can be varied from 70:30 to 20:80, front to rear. 

2023 Toyota Crown2023 Toyota Crown

The Hybrid Max version will achieve an EPA combined rating of 28 mpg combined, Toyota anticipates, while the standard hybrid versions will achieve 38 mpg combined while using the latest version of the automaker’s hybrid system equipped with a high-output bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery. In those non-Max versions, that’s a decrease of 5-6 mpg versus the current/outgoing Avalon Hybrid, so there must be some backstory here, such as either a lot of extra weight or far inferior aerodynamics given the roofline bump. 

Top Platinum versions get unique 21-inch wheels, an e-axle system for traction, and an adaptive suspension with variable oil pressure shock absorbers. All versions have a front strut suspension with a rear multi-link arrangement. 

In appearance, some might see the Crown as borrowing some of the attributes from the first-generation Venza—itself Camry-based. The big wheels of up to 21 inches play a part too, giving the Crown its “life-up” style. Inside, the dash carries over the horizontally oriented, T-square look of the Avalon’s dash, but with a more monochromatic look that appears to veer away from its predecessor’s warm materials and earthy tones.

2023 Toyota Crown2023 Toyota Crown

2023 Toyota Crown2023 Toyota Crown

2023 Toyota Crown

2023 Toyota Crown

All versions of the Crown will come with a big 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Wireless device charging is included, as is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as sets of dual USB-C ports for front and rear occupants. Heated front seats and fabric seating are included in the base XLE, while the mid-range Limited and top-trim Platinum add ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and leather upholstery. Limited and Platinum versions also get additional lighting and a panoramic sunroof, as well as 11-speaker JBL sound.

On the safety front, the Platinum version adds an automatic parking system and a surround-view camera system, while the whole lineup gets adaptive cruise control and pedestrian-detection and cross-traffic alert functionality for its automatic emergency braking. Just as the Avalon, the Crown is built on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform and the automaker emphasizes that quiet and refinement are top priorities—with extra sound-absorbing materials to keep wind, road, and engine noise at bay.

With the American-made Avalon discontinued and its Kentucky factory repurposed for making hydrogen fuel-cell modules, Toyota will be sourcing the Crown from Japan—with an arrival later this year. 

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