It was a beautiful three days in Nashville, TN for the national press launch of the rebirthed 2023 Toyota Crown, which will help the automaker from "Land of the Rising Sun" continue capturing 20% of sedan segment sales in the United States. First introduced in 1955, the Crown was the first Toyota mass-production sedan that simultaneously saw action in the motorsports department. The latest iteration of the full-size premium vehicle will hit the scene with two hybrid powertrains, standard AWD, up to 41 combined MPG, 15.2 cubic feet of trunk space, and standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0.
Outside the city in the countryside of Tennessee, I was able to get behind the wheel of each of the three Crown trim models: the $39,950 XLE, $45,500 Limited, and the top-end Crown Platinum, offering the best performance experience starting at $52,350. Being imported into the United States from Japan in early 2023, the Crown will primarily compete against the Nissan Maxima and Kia Stinger and focus on younger, tech-savvy consumers.
A commanding stance provides a 5.8" ground clearance and a physique that stands 4" higher than the Camry. The top-of-the-line hybrid system found exclusively in the Crown Platinum is the 2.4-liter inline Turbo 4-cylinder Hybrid MAX with front and rear electric motors. Paired with a Direct Shift 6-speed automatic transmission, the unit produces 340-horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The sedan felt good and strong on the road and quite nimble. In this case, expect 30 combined MPG and Full-Time Electronic AWD. The XLE and Limited receive the super-efficient 2.5-liter Toyota Hybrid System featuring a Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine, a Continuously Variable Transmission (not my favorite), and Electronic On-Demand AWD. The Nickel-metal hybrid battery and front and rear electric motors generate 236-horsepower combined.
The Crown Platinum
I started my day of testing in a Supersonic Red and Black Crown Platinum model, which also incorporates the gorgeous 21" 10-spoke machine-finished alloy rims wrapped in 245/45 R21 Michelin Primacy Tour all-season tires. The two-tone color scheme is a $550 option, but some individuals may think the Black painted hood and trunk are too gaudy. The Platinum and its Hybrid MAX offer exceptional acceleration spurts when called upon. Take your foot off the accelerator, and the vehicle slows down, similar to "one-pedal" driving mode in fully electric cars. The Platinum correspondingly features an Adaptive Variable Suspension and six Drive Mode settings (Custom, Sport S+, Sport S, Normal, Comfort, and Eco) as opposed to just three in the XLE and Limited. The added Sport+ gives drivers more steering command of the sporty Toyota sedan. The Platinum is further blessed with Quad-LED projector low and high-beam headlights, LED taillights, a panoramic fixed-glass roof with a power sunshade, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-icing functionality. Toyota also placed an 11-speaker, 800-watt JBL Premium Audio system with ClariFi music restoration and a subwoofer in this model. It’s available on the Limited and not possible on the XLE.
The Crown XLE and Limited
An XLE in Oxygen White and Black looked pristine and clean on the Southern fall roads while cruising by idyllic landscapes, manicured golf courses, and lavish country clubs. I especially loved the hybrid sound when the Crown initially took off. The breeze was purifying as air blew through the large cabin consisting of generous rear space, fabric seats with SofTex trim, 8-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, four USB-c ports, and Qi wireless phone charging. My XLE came with 19” two-tone alloy rims and Bridgestone all-season tires, color-keyed outside door handles, LED taillight and stop lights, and a 12.3” Multi-Information Display behind the leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Moving on, the Crown Limited I drove with a Heavy Metal hue showcased more standard content than the XLE and added the $2,950 Advanced Technology Package. It includes the 21" 10-spoke dark metallic rims, a Panoramic View Monitor, and a digital key that allows the use of your phone to engage with the vehicle. My Limited was further augmented by heated leather seats including the rears and an Electronic Parking Brake with Brake Hold Function.
Multimedia Functionality and Safety
All three models get down with Toyota’s in-house engineered12.3” Multi-Information Display which houses the detailed navigation, Toyota Audio Multimedia, Drive Modes, Apple CarPlay, hybrid activity, and more. The system is touch operated with one physical volume button. An EV-only mode lets you drive sustainably at lower speeds, whether it's in neighborhoods or school districts. Moreover, this system is more intelligent than I first imagined. Here are a few key tech capabilities:
- Service Connect – Personalized maintenance updates and health reports for up to 10 years.
- Remote Connect – Interact with your Crown remotely through the Toyota app to lock/unlock doors, start and stop the vehicle, locate your Crown in parking lots, and much more.
- Drive Connect – Cloud navigation with Google Points of Interest Data and Destination Assist.
- Wi-Fi Connect – Utilizes AT&T hotspot and Integrated Streaming, whether Apple Music or Amazon Music.
- Safety Connect – Features an Emergency Assistance button, enhanced Roadside Assistance, Automatic Collision Notification, and Solen Vehicle Locator.
Safety should always be at the top of the list when purchasing a new vehicle, especially if it's for our driving teens. But no worries since Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 (TSS 3.0) has you covered. The complementary and well-thought-out suite of technologies consists of Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Automatic High Beams. Moreover, another batch of safety packages come with the Crown outside of TSS, such as Safe Exist Assist and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking.
The trio of Hybrid Crowns is desirable to the eyes, drives with efficiency, and loaded with content. For those wondering, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Crown will become a fully electric vehicle in the near future. Still, for now, Toyota is ensuring to instill newer models with electrified platforms to help increase driving range while reducing carbon footprints.