Last year, we learned that 2021 would be final year of the Toyota Crown. The staple of Japan’s streets would, after over six decades of continuous production, come to an end due to lagging sedan sales. Its replacement is not yet known, but a car that debuted at Auto Shanghai 2021 might offer a clue — the Crown Kluger.
As you can see, it’s largely a Toyota Highlander with slightly modified front and rear design. A Crown logo has been forced onto the grille, center caps, and steering wheel. Under the skin, it’s identical to a China-market Highlander Hybrid.
Like the rest of the world, China is moving away from sedans and toward SUVs. Until it was discontinued last year, it was the only market in the world where modern Crown sedans were still sold in left-hand-drive configurations.
Now just because the Crown is now a rebadged Highlander in China, doesn’t mean the same will happen in Japan. But it’s definitely not a good sign, and rumors have been swirling that the Crown will morph into an SUV in Japan.
The Crown doesn’t have as long a history in China as it does in Japan, but it’s still sad to see a dignified rear-wheel-drive sedan become a front-wheel-biased crossover. We know car companies cannot keep building sports cars and sedans if they’re not selling. However, when it comes to a name with so much history, perhaps it’s just best to let it die a noble death.
I don’t get the fascination with SUVs. Wagons and vans make more sense; I own one of each. Then again, car buying decisions aren’t always logical.
Hideous. And I’m being restrained in my assessment here.
I’m going to say these two words courtesy of Lt. Jack Keller from NFS Undercover:
Looks like it mated with an Infiniti.
Why does Toyota put those ridiculous grills on their vehicles.
I will refrain from making a comment …
Glad that Toyota removed that Subaru grille emblem when they redesigned the Highlander.
Oh, and don’t worry, you won’t be seeing a Crown logo in the US.
As a preview of the midcycle refresh for the Highlander I don’t hate it. Turning the grille frown upside down is a surprisingly big improvement. Better than the steps up the pyramid that made the kouki version of the previous Highlander look like a lost mid-’00s Ford.
this is the reality of the car biz
us enthusiasts do not make up enough volume for toyota to keep selling the crown as a sedan anymore; most people want a crossover anyways even though they might be better off with something else
I don’t think affixing the crown nameplate here was the correct decision, since it doesn’t really fit the lineage at all, though if they make the interior luxurious enough (maybe equivalent to a highlander platinum here in the US) maybe they might have a case; heck they should do a “comfort” model with Maybach GLS style rear seats too at this point, because why not!
It is very sad to see Toyota put away Crown sedan and even sadder to see now it uses badge engineering to dump up Highlander in China. But Chinese consumers are not easy to be fooled. While Toyota is still doing OK in China, Chinese now have wide variety of vehicles available to choose. For those can afford high end products like Crown sedan and SUV, they are likely to go for three European bands, ABB (Audi, BMW and Benz). High end Japanese bands including Lexus have not selling well in China in last 20 years despite they probably have better reliability than European vehicles, but Chinese taste on everything these days is depending on vague, in last year they started to take up Tesla as new stylistic symbol, its Model 3 was outsold Audi A4, BMW 3 & Mercedes C.
Actually, China had been imported Crown since its S40 model. In the early 70s when it first attempted to open up trade, it imported over thousands of S60 sedan for car service in the coastal cities and Beijing. When China was finally opening up in late 70s, Crown and Cerdic were the most famous and favorite vehicles for well-connected people and foreign businessmen. It became so highly demand, criminal stared to steal them in streets of Hong Kong and smuggler them into southern China. One of high profile steals in early 90s was some guys fetched the Hong Kong Attorney General vehicle which was a Toyota Crown and sent to China. British authority had to use its hotline with Goungdong Provincial government to get the car back. But Crown popularity started to decline because of the high price, high import tax and introduction of local produced Audi 100. Despite Crown later were also produced in China, by then Chinese already got the taste of BMW and Mercedes.
There are only so many ways you can make a big box not look like a box. This is not one of them. I guess if you assault my eyes with the front the rest of the design is less pain full.
Crown imposter is born. A real Crown is 69 ms55, MS41S, ms51 and 69 crown Ute. I have these in my garage plus another seven Crowns of the same era. Disappointed with loss of Crown as a sedan.