Toyota coronates a new flagship

Crown replaces Avalon, stands tall against other sedans.

I could make any number of puns or pop culture references to this week’s tester. That is my MO after all. But I will forego a mention of a royals-based TV show and focus on what the new Toyota Crown is. The awesome name aside, the Crown is the heir-apparent (a slight royals play on words) to the outgoing Toyota Avalon. It’s not to say that Toyota just rebadged and renamed the Avalon because that is not accurate, nor is it fair to the Crown.

For 2023, the Crown is a brand-new vehicle that now replaces the Avalon at the top of the line of Toyota sedans. It’s not quite a full-size sedan like the Avalon, nor is it a crossover although it rides like one and has big wheels like a crossover.

So then what is the Crown? It’s a hybridized sedan that has 19-inch or available 21-inch wheels, the largest ever for a Toyota sedan. So, let’s call it a non-conventional sedan, which is refreshing since sedans are now rare and being put out to pasture. Toyota has doubled down on sedans still offering the Corolla, Camry and now the Crown. Good on them for realizing that not all consumers want crossovers and SUVs.

And with the Crown, driver and passenger are afforded a clear view of the road. It’s almost like sitting on a throne (I really should have made a reference to the TV show “The Crown”). Unlike other sedans, the elevated stance provides one of the easiest vehicle entry points of any sedan. Those of us with achy or old knees will appreciate this.

Aesthetically the Crown stands out. It has a profile that flows and outside of those massive wheels, the mouthy grille and unique side panels further add character to this car. The C-Pillar slopes downward, giving it sweeping character lines. This is one head-turning sedan especially in the Platinum trim, which has a bi-toned paint structure. It’s a big, bold design choice, but it works.

There are two available hybrid powertrains. One is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. This is good for 236 horsepower and exclusively offered on the XLE and Limited trims. The other engine is a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Thanks to the turbo, the total output is 340 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. This engine is exclusive to the aforementioned Platinum trim.

The Toyota Crown has all-wheel drive standard. The non-turbo engine has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) while the turbocharged one has a six-speed automatic transmission.

My tester was the Limited with the slower engine and the CVT. Obviously I would’ve preferred the punchier turbocharged engine, but even as such, this hybridized platform felt good off the line and even the CVT did a good job. Readers take note I’ve praised a CVT, mark down this date.

Inside, the Crown feels a bit like a Lexus. As the Avalon felt spacious, so too does the Crown, but whereas the Avalon felt a little stuffy, the Crown feels more vibrant with nice touchpoints and modern amenities and styling. My tester came heated and cooled leather seats, 11-speaker JBL Premium audio system and rain-sensing wipers. The Avalon was big and cavernous inside, the Crown has a smaller cabin. That attractive sloping roofline impacts headroom for rear passengers. This is a stark difference between the Avalon and the Crown.

The trunk has 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space and there’s 60/40 split rear seats to extend the cargo area.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen runs Toyota’s intuitive infotainment system. There’s a cleverly designed vertical wireless charging point for smartphones and easy integration with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

The most impressive part about this bigger sedan is the fuel economy. The 2023 Toyota Crown Limited (with AWD) has an EPA rating of 42 mpg/city and 41 mpg/highway. Toyota has been a leader in hybrid technology for years and they do it again with the fuel-sipping engine in the Crown.

The base trim Crown starts just under $40,000 while the top-of-the-line Platinum (with that faster engine and more interesting color styling) has an MSRP of $52,350. My tester, the Limited had an MSRP of $45,550.

The Avalon was built in the United States, but for now the Crown will be built in Japan. That is also a bit of a letdown as Toyota has been a strong manufacturer in the U.S.

I’m still wanting to put a pun in there about heavy is the head that wears the crown or that this large sedan is the crown jewel of Toyota’s car line. OK, I feel better having gotten some of those mentioned now. But if you were a fan of the Avalon and a fan of sedans, then the Toyota Crown might ascend to the top of your list.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2023 Toyota Crown Limited

Price/As tested price................................................ $45,550/$45,550

Mileage.......................................... 41 mpg/city; 40 mpg/hwy

Engine............................................. 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder hybrid

Horsepower................................. 236 hp/163 lbs./ft.

Transmission................................. CVT

Drive Wheels................ All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point................ Aichi, Japan

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