First Pics: Upscale Toyota Crown Comes Back to U.S. After 50 Years

The 2023 Toyota Crown sits parked in front of a gray backdop. The car is shaped like a sedan but has an SUV's high ground clearance. It is red with a black hood and front fascia. We see it from a front quarter angle, facing slightly to our left.

There will be a new old nameplate at Toyota dealerships for the 2023 model year. The top of the Toyota lineup will be a high-riding sedan with a distinctive available two-tone palette, a standard hybrid drivetrain, and on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD). It wears a name that’s beloved in Japan but has been absent from the U.S. market since 1973.

Meet the 2023 Toyota Crown.

Toyota Moves Upmarket for An Avalon Replacement

Toyota has long made an excellent full-size sedan. But it never received the love it should have in the American market. Many car critics consider the Toyota Avalon a quietly great car. It offers Lexus-like refinement, a responsive but quiet V6, and even more space than the ubiquitous Camry. It was enough to get our critic to call it “a luxury car for people who don’t want to pay luxury car prices.” But it wasn’t enough to save the Avalon, which Toyota is canceling after the 2022 model year.

In its place will come something harder to ignore.

The 2023 Toyota Crown sits parked in front of a gray backdop. We see it from the rear. The trunk lid is painted black, but the sides of the car are red.

A Blend of Sedan and SUV Traits

The Crown rides high, like a crossover SUV, but wears a sedan’s body. Toyota says it’s nearly 4 inches higher than the Camry for “increased road visibility, along with easy entry and exit.” But it avoids the rugged, REI-shopper look of other high-riding sedans with a sculpted body. A fastback rear lends a sporty air.

An unusual two-tone color scheme draws the eye. But Toyota says it will be offered only on the top-of-the-line Platinum trim.

Toyota says the Crown will reach dealerships “later this year.” They’ll reveal pricing closer to that time. The Avalon it replaces starts at $36,825, plus $1,025 shipping and handling. But that may not be a good guide to Crown pricing. In Japan, the Crown has long enjoyed a luxury car’s reputation. If Toyota hopes to replicate that status in the U.S., a starting price in the mid $40,000 range makes more sense.

The 2023 Toyota Crown sits parked in front of a gray backdop. It sits high like an SUV, though it is shaped like a sedan. It is red, with an angular black strake along the bottom of the doors.

Classic Look Inside

Inside, the look is on the line between Toyota and Lexus. A tall transmission tunnel insulates driver from passenger – the opposite of the airy design aesthetic most cars seem to go for this year. A sinuous dashboard houses the driver’s instrument screen and central touchscreen in a single bezel. But they are clearly divided, avoiding the one-wide-screen look much of the competition seems to have embraced.

All trim levels get a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Toyota’s voice assistant for verbal commands.

The interior of the 2023 Toyota Crown. It is upholstered in black SofTex, a leather-like material. The transmission tunnel dividing driver from front passenger is tall, creating a deep bathtub feel for both.

A Choice of Two Hybrid Powertrains

Under the hood, you’ll find a choice of two hybrid powertrains.

The familiar and proven THS hybrid system is found on the XLE and Limited grades. It combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Toyota hasn’t announced power figures for that setup.

Platinum models come with a more powerful system Toyota calls HYBRID MAX (they put it in all caps). It uses a turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a rear-axle-mounted electric motor tuned for performance. Toyota says the combination is good for 340 horsepower and is tuned to produce “powerful torque at low RPM for sporty, exhilarating driving.”

All Crowns come with on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD). The system powers the front wheels all the time, and the rear wheels when needed for added traction.

Every trim level includes Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0 suite of driver assists. It includes smart cruise control with lane tracing assist, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and a rear seat reminder that tracks whether a rear door was opened before starting and reminds the driver to check for rear seat passengers on shutting down.