So, you’re not as young as you were, and these days your creaky joints resist the low seats of a typical sedan. But still, you’re not a sheep: You’d rather drive an actual car than a higher-stanced SUV. Then again, SUVs have all-wheel drive, and who wouldn’t want that in a climate like Canada’s? On the other hand, you don’t live under a rock: You know climate change is here, and switching to an SUV is probably going to increase your carbon footprint.
If you relate to that mish-mash of needs, wants and values, Toyota has just created a sedan just for you – well, you and perhaps a number of other people.
Reviving a historic nameplate that’s been gone from Canada for decades, the 2023 Crown, which starts at more than $45,000, replaces the Avalon as Toyota’s largest and most expensive sedan in Canada. Despite near-identical exterior length to the Avalon, the Crown’s interior volumes officially classify it as a mid-size car; in fact, its passenger volume is less than that of the smaller Camry.
Crown returns as king of Toyota’s sedan lineup, but automaker isn’t banking on nostalgia
Where the Crown stands out is in height: The peak of its curvaceous roofline is about nine centimetres closer to the sky than your average mid-size sedan. However, don’t go thinking this is a sport-utility sedan. Ground clearance is still much closer to a sedan norms than an SUV or crossover. Most of the height is in the body itself, the key attraction being a loftier seating position that’s easier to enter and exit.
That’s one of the Crown’s selling propositions. The other is that while some mid-size sedans offer all-wheel drive (AWD), and some are available as hybrids, only the Crown has both technologies – and they’re standard.
Two hybrid/AWD powertrains are offered: In the XLE and Limited trims, the front wheels are driven by Toyota’s familiar combo of 2.5-litre gas engine, 88-kilowatt electric motor and continuously variable transmission (CVT), while the rear wheels are driven on demand by a 40-kilowatt electric motor.
The flagship Platinum has a different setup, dubbed Hybrid Max, that’s engineered for performance. Up front, a 2.4-litre turbocharged gas engine teams up with a 61-kilowatt motor and a six-speed automatic transmission, while the rear wheels are turned full-time by a 59-kilowatt motor.
The combined system delivers 340 horsepower and 400 lb-ft for torque for the Platinum, versus 236 horsepower and undisclosed torque for the XLE and Limited.
At suggested prices ranging from $45,590 for the XLE through $50,990 for the Limited to $59,990 for the Platinum, we expect the latter will be a niche within a niche market, so we were pleased the test car was a Limited, with the base powertrain.
And our pocketbook was pleased with the fuel consumption. Over most of its 450-kilometre week in our hands, the display showed a consistent 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres, edging up to 5.7 after a few full-bore acceleration tests. And apart from some Toyota-typical engine growliness, it was a thoroughly pleasant drive. The Crown never felt underpowered, while Toyota’s platform delivers competent and confident cornering, accurate steering and a firm but viceless ride. Brake feel, often the bane of electrified vehicles, is terrific.
That all said, everything that I liked about the Crown would be as good or better if it were built a few inches closer to the ground. I’m still spry enough to get in and out of a sedan, and as a city dweller, I don’t need all-wheel drive. Make mine a Camry SE Hybrid, with even better fuel economy than the Crown, for thousands of dollars less.
2023 Toyota Crown Limited
- Base price/as tested: $45,590/$50,990, plus $1,860 for freight and predelivery inspection, plus taxes
- Engine/motors: 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine/88-kilowatt motor/40-kilowatt motor
- Transmission/drive: Continuously variable automatic / electric AWD
- Fuel consumption (litres per 100 kilometres): 5.6 city/5.7 highway
- Alternatives: Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Toyota attributes the Crown’s height to large-diameter wheels (19 inchers on the base model, 21s on the Platinum), despite which effective ground clearance is unexceptional because there are underbody parts that hang lower than the bottom of the rocker panels, those sections under the doors between the front and rear wheels. With its shallow windows below a curved roofline, most of the extra height is between the rockers and the waistline. We liked the bold grille, but you may differ.
Some mid-size sedans squeeze more inside into smaller outsides, but the Crown’s rear cabin is still a roomy and hospitable space. There’s little to dislike about the driver’s workspace either. The front seats’ extra height eases entry and exit, and a good range of eight-way-plus-lumbar seat adjustment is standard. That said, it doesn’t promote an exceptionally lofty posture, which is good because there’s not much headroom to spare with a sunroof.
The digital gauge cluster and the infotainment touchscreen are 12.3 inches, but are separate, not a single screen like in some vehicles. User-friendly buttons regulate the climate and a handy round knob adjusts audio on/off/volume. Less welcome was the cumbersome process to activate a subscription for the cloud-based navigation.
Between the front seats, a tall centre console houses a stubby tap-and-toggle drive selector, one USB-A and two USB-C ports, and a vertical phone charging pad (which struggled to maintain contact with our iPhone).
While Toyota says the Platinum trim can accelerate to 100 kilometres an hour in about 5.8 seconds, the base powertrain needs 7.6 seconds for the same benchmark – and on 91-octane gas at that. Still, the slower version is brisk enough for drivers more focused on kilometres per litre than on kilometres per hour (and on not paying the extortionate premium for premium).
Toyota’s latest infotainment system has SiriusXM, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and connected services that include Destination Assist – for example, route guidance from a 24/7 live assistant. The TSS 3.0 assisted-drive package, also Toyota’s latest, includes full-range adaptive cruise control with curve speed management, lane-tracing assist, and intuitive parking assist with automatic braking. The precollision system brings enhanced detection of other vehicles and non-motorized hazards, including when turning at intersections.
Trunk volume of 433 litres is toward the low end of the mid-size sedan spectrum. The seat backs fold nearly flat, but they’re a sizeable step up from the trunk floor and the pass-through aperture is small.
A nicely executed answer to a question hardly anyone is asking.
Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.