Toyota Crown sedan lives on as model expands into new segments

Thank the car gods that we were wrong. It turns out that the horrendously ugly Toyota Crown that we’re getting in the US is only one version of the Crown. There’s actually four versions of the car, including a rear-wheel-drive sedan that keeps the 67-year tradition of one of Toyota’s most venerated nameplates alive.

Ever since November 2020, when rumors surfaced that Toyota was going to kill off the Crown, we have been tearing our hair out hoping that it wasn’t true. Then came the  rumors that no, it wasn’t dead, but that it would be a fate much worse — it would become a crossover. As if to taunt the Toyota faithful, a Chinese-market Crown SUV based on the Highlander emerged, followed by a Crown minivan. Was nothing sacred?

After having spent the last several years watching Toyota abuse hallowed nameplates like the Mark X, Land Cruiser, and Supra (even though there was good reason to), it was all too easy to believe that Toyota would squander the Crown name too. Add on top of that market forces pushing companies to flee from sedans like they were the plague, and it seemed a forgone conclusion.

In reality, elements of all those rumors proved to be true, as the Crown will now spawn four variants, not counting the China-market ones mentioned above. The four are (from left to right) the Crown Crossover (a bizarre sedan/crossover mix we are getting in the US), the Crown Sport (an actual five-door crossover), the Crown Sedan, and the Crown Estate (a longer five-door crossover).

The first one to hit the market will be the Crown Crossover, which in the US will fill in the gap left by the Avalon as it ends production in 2022. It marks the first time a Crown has sold in the US since 1972, though we don’t expect most Americans to be aware of the Crown name. It’s a hybrid, it’s AWD, and we’re sure it’ll be a perfectly competent and dependable automobile. It has specs.

Toyota hasn’t gone into specifics about the other Crown variants yet, but based on photos it looks like the others are based on the Crown Crossover. The sedan stands out as unique among the four, and not simply because the styling is the most conservative (in a good way).

We think it is a reskinned Toyota Mirai. If you compare them side by side, the proportions, the pillars, and the door cutlines look exactly the same. This is excellent news, because the Mirai is RWD. Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, the motor sits in the back and drives the aft wheels.

Much of the speculation surrounding the Crown’s discontinuation was the fact that Toyota was killing off its traditional FR platforms. The Lexus GS, which shared a platform with the last-generation Crown, hit the end of the road in 2020, just before the rumors of the Crown sedan’s death. Where would Toyota get another FR chassis on which to build the Crown? The Mirai was the only logical choice.

Is the Crown sedan everything we wished it would be? Not exactly. The styling is still a significant leap away from the formal, three-box designs of its predecessors. It will likely never be sold here in meaningful numbers due to its alternative fuel drivetrain. But considering the fact that, for a moment, we thought the Crown Crossover was going to be the sole successor to the revered nameplate of nearly 70 years, we have never been so happy to be wrong.

Additonal Images:

Images courtesy of Toyota.

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5 Responses to Toyota Crown sedan lives on as model expands into new segments

  1. Mike Stevens says:

    Those two SUVs, the red and gold ones, are very flippin’ handsome.

  2. Crown says:

    I would buy one.
    The only thing i don’t like is the rear bucket seats. They are limiting in seating.

  3. nlpnt says:

    I think the long-bodied wagon (yellow car) is the best of the bunch, now if only its’ ride height was a couple inches lower. Either trimmed as presented or as a basic steel-wheeled “Crown Van”.

  4. Jim Klein says:

    The Crown wagon seems very Toyota Highlander or Lexus RX…that pie is getting sliced ever thinner, as long as the sale stays at the House of Toyota I suppose it’s all fine, too bad it isn’t coming here (for now, seeing as how sedan sales are declining, why wouldn’t they bring the others or any other style here). And the Crown name coming back is a good thing, in whatever form it’s a strong name that suggests good things.

    The “baboon-butt” of the sedan (the brown one, that IS the sedan, right?) is a little offputting, it looks somewhat better in the one picture of the series where it’s body color, but like in the BX4X the large black accent expanses seem to be going for, well, I’m not exactly sure what they are going for. Maybe they’ll be body-colored for year two…From the front 3/4 though there is a strong early to mid 80s Supra vibe, which can’t be bad, which used the black bits as well.

    Having driven a current Avalon as well as a Sienna with the Hybrid-4 for a week it was (they were) shockingly good to drive with amazing gas mileage, the biggest problem will be getting the average American to give the powertrain a chance over an outmoded/outdated domestic V-6 with half to 60% of the mpg.

  5. Legacy-san says:

    The New Crown shows that Mr. President Aiko Toyoda, (not a misspelling of his last name BTW) has been guiding his senior leadership with reviving the core product lines and injecting new life. He has learned from history from former much vaunted brands like Cadillac, Lincoln, Imperial, Jaguar, Buick and so on and realized that the “Royal Saloon” customer base was fading away, and the modern car buyer likes SUVs in all shapes and sizes.

    The Crown is an international car club fan favorite, with car shows displaying every generation and the uniqueness that only Japan could have, and any imports that made it to the UK, Australia and elsewhere. The Crown is a popular topic for blogs and Wikipedia has a detailed article that lists every generation with technical information from international sources added by owners and car clubs combined. Toyota decided to introduce the name and let the web handle the marketing and advertising.

    The introduction of four new and different versions of the Crown could be a modern interpretation of the approach used when Toyota had the four different sales channels in Japan; Toyota Store, Toyopet Store, Corolla Store and Netz, with each Crown representing what each sales network used to offer, instead of trying to have the new Crown cover all of the bases and market segments.

    It also shows that the Crown would not cause a luxury brand confusion with established Lexus products, and while the Avalon is gone, the Lexus ES is one of their top sellers. It looks very similar to the ahead of its time Acura ZDX, Honda Accord Crosstour and the Subaru Outback SUS. Toyota has already tested the waters with both versions of the Venza, which the second generation may be the junior to the Crown Crossover. The luxury approach is already being offered as the BMW Gran Turismo and the Mercedes Benz GLE.

    Now that Carlos Ghosn is gone at Nissan, the traditional rival, lets see what they do, while Honda, Subaru and Mazda will also enter the fray.

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