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Will the 2023 Toyota Crown be the ICE ‘lift-up sedan’ that succeeds?


Toyota calls our 2023 Crown a “lift-up sedan.” The coinage reminds us that the bard’s line, “A rose by another identify,” works within the different course, too. That’s, the duck-billed platypus and red-lipped batfish would look simply as awkward in the event that they had been named Archangel and Jennifer. The query is, will this lift-up sedan look sweeter or much less awkward to the American market than related autos which have preceded it? Can the 2023 Toyota Crown triumph the place, to date, within the internal-combustion phase, consumers haven’t taken to physique types that splice the sedan and crossover segments?

Admittedly, the pattern dimension is small. The Honda Accord Crosstour will get known as up because the go-to comparator. Toyota distances the 2 by noting the Honda was designed to be a sensible crossover with a hatchback, the Crown is a premium sedan with a trunk. There was BMW’s Grand Turismo vary – positively sedan(ish), positively premium, positively short-lived. We may shoehorn the Acura ZDX right here, having approached this phase black gap from the opposite aspect as a lowered crossover coupe as an alternative of an elevated sedan. It, too, acquired sucked into the singularity. Challengers: 0. Fast oblivion: 3.

Prior to now 27 years, Toyota’s taken three huge photographs at mixing established automobile segments. The primary was the 1994 Leisure Energetic Car with 4 Wheel Drive, extra generally referred to as the RAV4. On sale right here for the reason that 1996 mannequin 12 months, relentless market ardor made it the fourth-best-selling automobile within the U.S. in 2021. The advertising and marketing transient couldn’t have been less complicated: An SUV that drives like a automobile. Much more necessary: There was no mistaking what it was; it seemed like an SUV.

13 years later, the second shot was the 2009 Toyota Venza, which cut up the distinction between the RAV4 minivan and a Camry wagon. Toyota touted it as mixing the “styling and luxury of a passenger automobile with the pliability of a sport utility automobile.” In-house entrepreneurs tagged it with, “You’re multiple factor. So is Venza.” However reviewers couldn’t come to a consensus on what that one factor was – a troublesome destiny in a classification-obsessed world. I preferred every little thing concerning the Venza. However its fulsome utility couldn’t break via the nameless styling, advertising and marketing fugue, and the truth that it price about the identical because the clearly-an-SUV Toyota Highlander. In 10 years on sale within the U.S., the Venza offered about as many models because the RAV4 did in 2014.

Fourteen years later, the Crown marks Toyota’s third shot down the hole. Don Johnson, product supervisor at Toyota Product Training, advised us we’re getting this physique model out of the 4 new Crown variants as a result of “Toyota won’t abandon the sedan market,” clarifying that Toyota does contemplate this a sedan. Nicely, Toyota USA does; Toyota Japan’s English language press supplies check with this physique as a crossover. The cynical take could be that if an automaker goes to cling to the sedan phase within the U.S., that automaker will want one thing like a crossover to do it.

The concept of a little bit carry, Johnson advised us, was to “Give folks leaving the sedan market a motive to remain, an opportunity to get what they need from a sedan and a crossover.” With the previous, meaning extra dynamic dealing with. With the latter, meaning larger sight strains and simpler ingress and egress. And once more that trunk, which consumers are anticipated to learn as a noteworthy distinction from earlier, related autos.

There’s subtext right here as properly, in that Toyota isn’t making an attempt to maintain Avalon consumers. Ash Hack, automobile collection supervisor in Toyota Car Advertising and marketing and Communications, advised us, “The Avalon’s median [buyer] age was 66. The Crown is taking pictures at [the age bracket] 35-59 with a $125,000 median revenue.” That’s the tip of the Boomer tail, all of a extra prosperous Gen X, and a piece of Gen Y who will recognize the Crown’s “daring and putting innovation for the mannequin and sophistication,” as Toyota PR advised us.

Volvo and Subaru have made hay with ICE-powered lifted wagons. Up to now, although, U.S. consumers have solely excused electrical sedan-CUV hybrids. Even then, we’re speaking about autos that clearly appear to be crossovers smushed to sedan peak. The Crown matches the bottom clearance of the outgoing Avalon. The bottom clearances of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Volkswagen ID.4, Kia EV6, and Polestar 2 are a mere 0.2 inch to 1.5 inches larger than the Avalon. However their roof heights are 4 to eight inches larger they usually have hatchbacks, in order that they’re crossovers so far as consumers are involved. Appears consumers will ignore blurry particulars for a fast, acquainted reply to, “What’s it?”

So there’s little question the Crown’s a daring transfer within the class – if it even has a category – and that it ups Toyota’s hybrid recreation. The corporate’s ready till nearer to media drives to surrender particulars on tech just like the rear axle motors, driving modes, stiffer springs, and the electronically managed braking system. However we all know the Crown represents the primary time Toyota’s tuned a hybrid system for dynamic rewards and paired it with a conventional computerized transmission in a passenger automobile. Going additional to meet the Crown’s tech legacy, engineers developed the multi-plate moist begin clutch to switch the standard torque converter and supply higher in-gear punch.

Since that is an opinion piece, I can say I’d give the Crown a greater likelihood of constructing a market affect if it had been prettier and/or electrical. The automobile does look higher in individual, and the monotone coloration is the best way to go for the much less daring amongst us. The bi-tone paint job carves out the sedan’s particulars in much less elegant methods than I’d choose. And regardless of the colour, it’s laborious to unsee the Nissan Maxima-esque strains within the rear three-quarter as soon as detected.

The sudden form accommodates sudden selections all through. The nickel-metal hydride battery seems like a throwback. Toyota stated that selection “was concerning the availability of elements for mass manufacturing. However there have been effectivity beneficial properties with Ni-MH, so the sort works for proper now. After all, the writing’s on the wall.” That’s maybe extra subtext, Toyota deciding it didn’t need to fear about lithium-ion battery supplies for even the Crown’s small pack. Whither our electrical automobile future. …

Different intrigues embrace the guide prop used to carry up the curt hood; the Avalon comes with two hydraulic struts. We had been advised, “House owners don’t actually carry the hoods anymore.” Hack described the Crown at velocity as “Extremely quiet – the purpose was to make it as quiet as doable inside.” Standing exterior, although, the Hybrid Max powertrain on the performance-oriented Platinum trim makes the identical dreary buzz as a frugal Toyota hybrid minus the frugality.

Inside, essentially the most upscale inside accessible is Softex artificial leather-based trim with perforated leather-based inserts within the seats, normal on the Restricted and the Platinum. Solely the mid-grade Restricted will get the selection of an inside coloration apart from black, with Macadamia and Chestnut/Black on the menu. Contemplating Toyota has Lexus to guard, and our suspicion that the Crown’s MSRP gained’t be far off the Lexus ES, the Crown’s cabin is … tremendous. We daresay we’d find yourself considering the Avalon Restricted cabin – providing three shades of premium, real leather-based – is nicer.

Having not too long ago develop into a decide for the World Car of the Year Awards, I look ahead to getting the solutions and evaluating the Crown to each the Avalon it replaces and the competitors. Up to now, with out having pushed it, I don’t see the Crown because the mannequin to flee the hex on this mashup class, feeling much less RAV4 and extra Venza: The Sequel. However who is aware of; I might need stated the identical concerning the platypus and batfish if I had been a biologist, and we see how that turned out.

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