The Toyota Crown might be returning to the US market, if a leaked dealer schedule sheet is to be believed. Though it’s been Toyota’s most popular and evergreen sedan in Japan for nearly 70 years, it was sold stateside for only a fraction of that time, disappearing from the US in 1971. Incredibly, it could be back by the end of the year.
Earlier this week, a YouTube account going by Driven District uploaded a video that purported to show internal documents intended only for New York area Toyota dealers and their employees. The Drive covered the leak and grabbed some screenshots (the video has since been changed to private) of Toyota’s 2023 release calendar. The main point was that the GR Corolla, a manual-transmission, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Corolla with the powertrain of the forbidden GR Yaris, would be going on sale in October.
That’s great news, but if you look closely at the month of October, right above “Corolla GR On Sale” is a box that says “Crown On Sale”. Furthermore, the reverse side of that sheet has a sales target breakdown by model. There, again, in the next-to-last row, is the Crown.
We are as surprised as anyone about this. October isn’t that far away when it comes to a new model launch and, normally, leading up to one there’d be months, maybe years, of leaks and buzz. Yet there’s been zero mention of the Crown on the grapevine. We know that the Toyota’s largest sedan, the Avalon, is ending production this year, another casualty of the crossover takeover.
The Toyopet Crown was the first Japanese car to be officially imported into the US, when Toyota officially opened its doors here in 1957. However, its 1.9-liter four was ill-suited for sustained interstate cruising. It hailed from a time when Japan had zero expressways, and it was such a flop in America that it almost caused Toyota to withdraw from the US market. Toyota continued to import second-, third-, and fourth-generation Crowns until 1971.
In all, there have been fifteen generations of Crown in Japan, making it the longest-lived sedan nameplate in the entire Japanese auto industry. That’s why it was such a shock in 2020 when it was reported that Toyota would discontinue the Crown sedan and replace it with a crossover. Toyota didn’t confirm it, but they didn’t deny it either. Then last year Toyota launched the Crown Kluger SUV, followed by the Crown Vellfire minivan, both in China. It wasn’t a one-to-one replacement for the Crown sedan; instead Toyota seemed to be launching an entire Crown sub-brand in China. In Japan, however, the Crown is still the big, rear-wheel-drive sedan we know and love. For now.
If the leaked documents are for real, we will remain hopeful that it’s the sedan. More realistically, however, it’ll likely be a crossover of some kind, maybe even an electric one. We don’t think it’ll be the Crown Kluger as that is simply a rebadged Highlander, and while we’re sure Toyota wouldn’t pass up the chance to rake in more of that sweet, sweet crossover money, we don’t see the point of offering both models simultaneously. The Crown Vellfire is probably a non-starter in van-averse America too. Whatever it is, it’s too bad that the US revival of an important nameplate be so disappointing, because we’d love to have a big, powerful (in V6 hybrid trim the JDM Crown makes 354 horsepower) FR sedan here.