Here are a few things you should know about the sporty hybrid that's replacing the Avalon.
Since the crossover was invented, it has been a slow downward spiral for the humble sedan.
Over the last five years, several sedans have been put out of their misery. The Avalon, which served as Toyota's flagship sedan for nearly three decades, is the latest to join this long list. It leaves a significant gap in the Japanese brand's local line-up, which the all-new Crown will fill.
The Crown is not a crossover, however. It's a mashup of sedan, crossover, coupe, and hatch all rolled into one. While we don't all agree that it's handsome, it is at least interesting. You could say the same of the Avalon, but you'd be lying.
After a 50-year absence from the States, the Crown is finally returning. Here are five things you need to know about it.
We hesitate to call it pretty because it appears to be the kind of car one will appreciate more in the metal. We're just glad it's interesting enough to start a discussion. Yet more proof that Akio Toyoda was not lying when he said Toyota would no longer build boring cars.
The Crown's design still has strong ties to the basic four-door sedan, but the car is slightly lifted to give it that all-important elevated driving position. The sizeable faux grille at the front is a bit much, but we dig the slim exterior lights and the coupe-like design stretching from the B-pillar to the rear.
The subtle integrated rear spoiler hints at the sporty aspirations, while the lack of visible exhaust outlets is an obvious nod to the Crown's green credentials.
The Crown will be available in two flavors. Those who want a straightforward traditional hybrid can opt for a Crown equipped with the fourth-generation powertrain (THS IV). The THS IV hybrid system consists of a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder gas engine, an electric motor in the front, and another electric motor integrated into the rear axle. The power runs through an eAWD system via a CVT transmission.
Toyota did not provide a power output for the particular powertrain, likely because it did not want to steal the new engine's thunder. The RAV4 Hybrid uses a similar setup, and the net power is roughly 220 horsepower.
The big news is the introduction of the Hybrid Max option, only available on the top-spec Platinum. The ICE component of this powertrain is a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-pot, and instead of a power-sapping CVT, it uses a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.
Toyota claims it produces an estimated 323 hp and that peak torque is available between 2,000 to 3,000 rpm. While the turbo is girding its loins, the front electric motor is on torque filling duty. While no performance figures are available, the Hybrid Max will likely provide spirited performance.
This will not be at the expense of fuel economy. Toyota claims a combined consumption figure of 38 mpg for the THS IV and 28 mpg for the Hybrid Max.
Platinum models come with a Sport + driving mode and adaptive suspension to get the most out of the Hybrid Max. Slap it in Sport +, and the Crown becomes somewhat unruly and uncouth. Both the steering and throttle are sharpened, and the adaptive dampers will keep the car as flat as possible through the corners. Paddle shifters are standard on this model if you want ultimate control over the machine.
Most of Toyota's current range is equipped with Safety Sense 2.0, which is a suite of driver assistance systems.
The Crown ships standard with the upgraded Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 (TSS 3.0), with improved sensors and enhanced detection capability. In addition to the usual pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, the Crown can also detect motorcyclists and guardrails.
The adaptive cruise control also benefits from improved lane recognition, steering assist, and lane tracing assist. These features join the obligatory blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning.
Platinum trim takes it a step further by adding Toyota's Advanced Park System. It can identify an open parallel or perpendicular parking and will park itself without the driver's input.
Three trim levels will be available: XLE, Limited, and Platinum. The baseline specification is already superb, with the XLE getting plenty of nice-to-have features like power-adjustable heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, wireless charging, and a 12.3 touchscreen interface with all of the latest charging terminals and connectivity features.
Limited and Platinum models gain a panoramic moonroof, in-cabin LED lights, and leather seats. Just take a second and look at those front seats. They look more comfortable than an actual throne. That's a bad reference, actually. We've seen the throne the Brits use during a coronation. It seems extraordinarily uncomfortable and splintery.
Limited and Platinum models are equipped with a JBL 11-speaker sound system, tuned specifically for the Crown.
We know Toyota is playing the long game regarding electric vehicles. For the last 20-odd years, it has spent most of its development cash on hybrids, and it shows. We do not doubt that the Crown's two powertrains will provide everything the average Toyota customer wants.
Toyota also keeps churning out hit after hit, especially on the sporty side. Is a slightly lifted sedan with a coupe-like butt the next big thing? The elevated driving position alone is enough to lure customers to the dealership. As for styling, who knows? When BMW launched the X6, the general consensus was that it was a niche too far. Now it's in its third generation, and everyone else is building crossover coupes.
The Crown arrives in the USA this fall, and the sales figures will reveal whether America is willing to accept or kick it out of the country as we did in 1781.