The flagship Toyota sedan in Japan isn't the Avalon and it isn't a Lexus. It's the Crown Royal and Crown Athlete, which Toyota has just updated for the fourteenth generation.
In America, if you want a big Toyota, you go for the Avalon. Want a more luxurious Toyota? That'd be a Lexus then. But in the automaker's home market, Toyota has topped the luxury market with the Crown series of sedans. Introduced way back in 1955, the model line is now in its fourteenth iteration, which Toyota has just released in both Crown Royal (presumably of no relation to the Canadian rye whiskey) and the more aggressively-styled Crown Athlete versions.
Sized about the same as the Lexus GS, the Crown series is a stand-alone product that rivals German imports like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 as well as domestic sedans like the Honda Legend (also known as the Acura RL) and Nissan Fuga (Infiniti M). The Crown Royal and Crown Athlete are offered in a range of trim levels, with a 178-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 driving through a six-speed automatic to either the rear wheels or (optionally) all four. The Crown Athlete is also available with a 3.5-liter V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and there's a new hybrid version as well that couples the 2.5 with a 140hp electric motor.
Despite the Toyota badge, though, (and the recent introduction of the Lexus brand to its own home market), the Crown sedans offer all the luxury equipment and trim you'd expect of a more upscale badge. That includes the new Toyota Multi-Operation Touch system. There's no word on the previous base Crown, the top-of-the-line Crown Majestic or the TRD performance model, so we'd assume the model line is being streamlined or these models are carrying on unchanged for the time being. (Live images courtesy of autoc-one.jp.)