- The Crown is a new large sedan that replaces the Avalon
- Hybrid-only powertrains, including one using a turbocharged engine
- Fuel economy expected to be lower than equivalent Avalon
- Introduces the fifth-generation Crown for 2023
The large sedan class has fallen by the wayside as American families have moved en masse into crossovers, and the once-dominant segment now consists of only three entrants — the Toyota Avalon and the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger twins. And Toyota has already confirmed that the Avalon is kaput after 2022.
But rather than slink away in the dead of night to make another respectable but unexciting crossover, Toyota is reworking its large sedan concept from the ground up. Meet the 2023 Toyota Crown, a new high-riding sedan with the shape of a hatchback (though it has a conventional trunk), hybrid-only powertrains and truly funky styling. Toyota often plays it too safe with its new vehicles, so it's nice to see the company really swinging for the fences with the Crown.
The 2023 Crown will be available in XLE, Limited and Platinum grades — all of which are hybrids and feature all-wheel drive. The XLE and Limited are driven by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels, plus an electric motor at the rear axle. Toyota isn't saying how much power this system produces, but there are a number of other Toyota and Lexus vehicles that use this powertrain. Based on the output of these other vehicles, we expect this version of the Crown to make between 219 and 246 horsepower — and we've overheard Toyota employees mentioning 236 hp in the Crown ... The system is matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission, a pairing that, Toyota says, should achieve 38 mpg in the EPA's combined driving cycle. It's worth noting that the outgoing Avalon Hybrid produces 215 hp and achieves 43-44 mpg in combined driving, according to the EPA.
The Crown Platinum is a completely different beast. Like the recently unveiled Lexus RX 500h, the Platinum replaces the naturally aspirated four-cylinder with a turbocharged 2.4-liter unit. The result is a big boost to power, with a total output listed at 340 hp. The transmission also switches to a traditional six-speed automatic, and adaptive dampers are added to offer the driver a choice between sporty and comfortable driving characteristics.
All the Platinum's performance enhancements come at a serious penalty to fuel economy. Toyota estimates this version of the Crown will return 27 mpg in combined driving — a fairly unimpressive figure compared to other sedans with non-hybrid powertrains. The current Avalon V6, for instance, produces a bit less power and has a 26 mpg combined estimate, as does the BMW 540i with its marginally less potent turbocharged inline-six. On paper, the Crown Platinum's powertrain seems heavy and overengineered without much benefit to the driver compared to other options.
Step into the Crown's elevated cabin (Toyota says ground clearance is nearly that of a crossover) and you'll see that the Crown's cabin design is much more subdued than its exterior. The driver has a clear view of dual 12.3-inch screens (one for the instrument panel and one for the central touchscreen interface) behind the refreshingly uncomplicated steering wheel. The center stack is similarly utilitarian; Toyota has opted to include a row of climate control buttons rather than bury these functions in a touchscreen menu. It's a little too soon for us to make a definitive comment on the Crown's interior space, but the Avalon that it replaces had plenty of legroom, though rear headroom was surprisingly tight.
As was the case with its predecessor, the Crown is loaded with luxury features. Even the base XLE trim has heated front seats, imitation leather upholstery, the 12.3-inch touchscreen with onboard navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a six-speaker audio system. On the safety front, all Crowns also come with blind-spot monitoring plus the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite of driving aids, which includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane centering assist, a rear seat reminder and road sign identification. The Platinum model further adds an automated parking system.
Toyota is taking a bold step with the Avalon's successor, the 2023 Toyota Crown full-size sedan. Not only is the styling totally wild, but the hybrid-only powertrain lineup means it should also be quite efficient. However, we do expect it to be thirstier than the outgoing Avalon.