2023 Toyota Crown Sedan Promises Efficiency and Power in a Uniquely Styled Body
This Avalon replacement debuts solely with hybrid powertrains
Toyota has taken the wraps off the 2023 Crown, a dramatically styled replacement for the Avalon. When it goes on sale in late 2022, it will be offered with only two hybrid powertrains.
The Crown’s powertrains were first announced early this year on the redesigned Lexus RX: one focused on fuel efficiency and another that produces prodigious power along with some fuel economy benefits. The standard 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder comes on the XLE and Limited trims, while the Platinum trim uses the Hybrid Max, a 340-hp turbo four-cylinder and hybrid electric powertrain. All-wheel drive is standard.
With its replacement for the large Avalon sedan, Toyota has created a blend of the functionality of a sedan—popular with a shrinking, but core demographic—with some SUV-like looks. This comparably sized model appears more stylish and has a raised ride height, without going too far into the land of the SUV. It might be the ideal car for those who have gotten used to the raised ride height and easier cabin access of an SUV, but seek a less utilitarian-looking vehicle.
With standard AWD and two hybrid versions, the Crown has the on-paper details that could check the boxes for buyers looking for such an alternative.
With the Crown, Toyota remains true to—and reinforces—its leadership in hybridization. It’s not far-fetched to expect a plug-in hybrid electrical (PHEV) version down the road, similar to its existing “Prime” models. And that raised ride height may allow room below the floor for a long, flat battery that would be needed for a full EV version.
Unique. Different. Polarizing. A reminder of the awful trend of coupe-ified sedans and SUVs. These are just some of the ways our staff described the Crown when we saw it in photos. At the least, Toyota has done away with the traditional lines of the Avalon, instead delivering a sedan that blends a curved roof and tapering greenhouse with a raised, SUV-like ride height. Interestingly, the big front fascia is similar to the face of the final Avalon. Perhaps you can squint hard and see a similarity with the 1972 Toyota Crown, the last year it was sold in the U.S. Perhaps.
Size-wise, at 194 inches the Crown is two inches shorter than the Avalon, with nearly identical width and wheelbase measurements (72.4 and 112.2 inches, respectively). But it’s taller, 60.6 inches compared with the Avalon’s 57 inches. In comparison, the Camry is 56.9 inches tall.
XLE and Limited trims use 19-inch wheels, while the Platinum trim comes with 21-inch wheels.
In profile the Crown looks most like a raised Toyota Mirai, but with a more cab-forward design. As with Toyota’s fuel-cell vehicle, the Crown has a trunk (shown above), not a hatchback. The opening for the trunk appears tall and wide in photos, but there’s no information on depth or if the rear seats fold to expand cargo area.
The top Platinum trim also features what Toyota calls bi-tone paint, where black paint stretches from the hood to the trunk, and the rest of the car is painted in one of four contrasting colors. The XLE and Limited trims get a choice of five colors.
If the Avalon had a near-Lexus feel to its materials, the Crown takes that one step further with styling that is similar to current Lexus vehicles. But, at least, it’s a conventional interior.
The most prominent feature is the seemingly one-piece screen that stretches across nearly two-thirds the width of the Crown’s dashboard. In reality, it’s two separate pieces. All Crowns get a 12.3-inch panel in front of the driver that “houses” the digital instruments. This panel butts up to the standard 12.3-inch touch screen that sits up high on the dash.
Drivers can choose from a variety of display appearances, including one that shows the hybrid system’s charge status, and whether the Crown is using the gas engine or just the battery.
The infotainment system’s touch screen (shown below) houses audio, navigation, phone, and system functions, and has the ability to accept over-the-air (OTA) updates. Both touch and voice commands can be used with the system, the latter as part of the Intelligent Assistant that is part of the Toyota Drive Connect mobile phone app. The navigation system can have maps and points of interest updated via the app as well. While there is a round power button directly beneath the screen, there is no indication if it also is used for volume control. There is no knob for tuning. The system is new for Toyota, debuting in the redesigned Tundra pickup truck that we recently tested. We found it to be straightforward but lacking in some features and refinement.
A vertical wireless Qi charging pad is standard, housed in the front of the center console. In addition, the Crown has a USB-A and 12-volt port in the cubby beneath the center armrest, along with two USB-C ports on the passenger side, and two additional USB-C ports for rear passengers. Both wireless and wired support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, along with dual Bluetooth phone connectivity, so you can accept calls on two different devices or use a mapping app on one phone and play music from another.
Fortunately, the dual-zone climate controls are separate from the touch screen. They sit low on the dash, below the screen and air vents, and are a combination of buttons and rocker switches to adjust temperature and airflow. In the XLE trim the standard three-level heated seat controls are located near the digital screen. The Limited and Platinum trims add controls for seat ventilation. The rear heated seats are controlled by the rear passengers.
Both the driver and front-seat passenger get standard eight-way power adjustable seats, with the driver also getting standard adjustable lumbar. The XLE trim uses fabric and Softex synthetic leather for the seating surfaces, while the Limited and Platinum get leather-trimmed seats.
What Drives It
Two powertrains will be available when the Crown debuts. The one that most reports will be excited about is called Hybrid Max—we’ll get to that one in a bit.
Most versions of the Crown will likely come with the newest version of Toyota’s hybrid powertrain (they call it Toyota Hybrid System, or THS), which pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT), and a newly developed nickel-metal hydride battery. The XLE and Limited trims use an all-wheel-drive system, called E-Four AWD, that sends 100 percent of available power to the front wheels in normal driving or cruising situations. When needed, it can vary power between the front and rear wheels all the way up to 80 percent of the current drive torque to the rear. Toyota estimates that this powertrain will get 38 mpg combined in the EPA testing cycle.
The Hybrid Max powertrain, which only comes on the top-level Platinum trim, produces 340 net horsepower from a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric drive. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and driving two electric motors. Toyota claims that it will get 28 mpg combined on the EPA cycle.
The front motor is part of an assembly attached to the engine, along with the generator and power control unit. In the rear, the electric motor sits on the axle. The automaker says that this “performance hybrid” system will always be sending power to all four wheels, in a split that varies between 70 percent front and 30 percent rear to 20 percent to the front wheels and 80 percent to the rear wheels.
This latter, performance-oriented powertrain, gets six selectable drive modes. In addition to the Normal, Eco, and Sport modes (which are also on the regular Crown) the Max gets a Sport+ mode that is claimed to enhance steering and cornering response, a Comfort mode that is supposed to “emphasize passenger comfort,” and a Custom mode that lets the driver choose which aspect of the various modes they like best. The Platinum trim also gets an adaptive suspension.
We’ll see how—and if—these systems have any impact on driving the Crown when we are able to get our hands on them. There is no mention of a plug-in hybrid version, unlike the Lexus RX, or a fully electric version.
Safety and Driver Assistance Systems
The Crown will be one of the Toyota and Lexus vehicles that gets the new Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 3.0 system, which builds upon the current TSS-P, TSS 2.0, TSS 2.5, and TSS 2.5+ systems.
This standard system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist, and motorcycle detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, lane centering assistance, and automatic high beams.
Additional standard safety features that aren’t part of TSS include blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, and a rear seat reminder.
The backup camera overlays the image with the projected path and dynamic gridlines, helping the driver position the Crown when reversing.