As much as I like what American car companies have to offer these days, they have a clear disdain—or at least apathy—for something rather peculiar: cars. All it takes is one good look at what’s out there to see that Ford, Chevy, and others have almost entirely abandoned the actual car market and have only a few sedans on offer between them. Even if you’re looking at more niche options like sports cars, there aren’t that many vehicles, and we’ll soon have even fewer, with models like the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger being retired. It’s a shame because sedans and coupes are still very important to a lot of drivers.
Fortunately, there are still some car companies that understand how many people want a car—not a truck or SUV, or even a crossover, but an actual car. Toyota is arguably the leader in recognizing just how vital sedans and hatchbacks are for a lot of drivers. With the 2023 Toyota Crown, the Japanese brand continues to deliver remarkable vehicles for those of us who are being forgotten or ignored by our domestic manufacturers. To be fair, the Crown is a replacement for the discontinued Avalon, but replacing an outgoing sedan with something new rather than simply leaving another hole in the market is well worth recognition.
What Is the Toyota Crown?
The Crown is a midsize sedan that serves as a replacement for the Toyota Avalon. However, in many ways, it’s much more than that. This is a car that’s been available in Japan since 1955, offered as a luxurious choice for discerning drivers in Toyota’s home country. Here in the US, the Crown was sold from 1958 until 1972, when it was withdrawn from the market. For some 50 years, that was the last we heard of it on our shores, yet it has remained available in Japan and maintained its place as a popular option for many drivers.
Now that the Avalon is out of the picture, the Crown is coming back with a bold new design that marks its sixteenth generation. While several body styles are available in Japan, the model we’re seeing here in America is the “crossover” style that looks a bit different from most other sedans on the market. The all-new Crown sits about halfway between a typical sedan and a small crossover SUV, creating a unique impression that’s incredibly inviting. While not everyone’s sold on this new design, I think it looks great and delivers something different and stylish—that’s not something every sedan can brag about.
Why Are People Excited About the Toyota Crown?
Beyond the obvious aspect of Toyota offering the Crown here in the US for the first time in 50 years, most people are excited about this car because of what it brings to the road. First and foremost, there are the engines—one engine in particular, but we’ll get to that momentarily. The standard engine in the 2023 Crown is a 2.5L four-cylinder hybrid that delivers 236 hp for an excellent driving experience. Where the Crown really shines, however, is with its available 2.4L Hybrid MAX turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides 340 hp and a monstrous 400 lb-ft of torque. This engine makes the Crown an absolute thrill to drive and gives folks a choice between optimal fuel efficiency and enhanced power.
Speaking of fuel efficiency, it’s hard to ignore just how well Toyota’s engineers have designed the Crown to go long distances without stopping for gas. Models with the standard engine get an estimated 42 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway, thanks to the hybrid design. This is fantastic fuel economy that puts a lot of other cars to shame. The available Hybrid MAX engine loses some efficiency, with an estimated 29 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway, but it certainly makes up for that with raw performance.
One thing I like, in particular, about the 2023 Crown is that Toyota has kept its trim levels and options simple and straightforward. Where too many other manufacturers and models end up drowning you in choices, the Crown has three trim levels available. The first two, the XLE and Limited, both come with the standard engine, while the Platinum features the impressive Hybrid MAX engine—this makes choosing the ideal trim quite simple. Beyond that, you’ll find typical options and upgrades across the trims. For example, while the XLE comes with fabric upholstery and heated front seats, the Limited features leather, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.
Perhaps most remarkably, and one of the main reasons a lot of drivers are excited about the Crown, its standard features are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a car. Every 2023 Toyota Crown comes with a 12.3-inch Multi-Information Display for the driver, along with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a wireless phone charger. Dual-zone automatic climate control is also standard, which is perfect for a midsize sedan like this. A few extras like Digital Key capability and an 11-speaker JBL sound system are available on the two higher trims. Still, this is a fantastic selection of standard features, meaning you don’t have to pay more to get a great car.
How Does This Add to Toyota’s Lineup?
Excellent engines and generous standard tech features aside, what I like most about the arrival of the 2023 Crown is that Toyota replaced an outgoing model rather than simply shrinking our options as drivers. Looking at the selection of cars—actual cars—that Toyota offers is staggering, particularly when you dig into the different versions of them that are available. There’s the compact Corolla, for starters, which is offered as a standard sedan, a hybrid, a hatchback, and even a turbocharged all-wheel drive hot hatch. Then you have the Prius, available as a standard hybrid or plug-in hybrid. This is followed by the midsize Camry, which is also offered as a hybrid and a V6 muscle car, and now we have the Crown in addition to these.
All of that is without even mentioning the GR86 and GR Supra—though I just did—a pair of sports cars that are both incredibly fun to drive. This creates one of the most robust and compelling selections of sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes available from any brand, giving drivers more options to choose from than Chevy and Ford combined. I know that SUVs have taken over the auto industry over the last couple of decades, but many drivers still have a real need for great cars. Most American brands have completely forgotten this or prefer to focus only on the most profitable models; that makes for good numbers at the end of the quarter, but it leaves a lot of drivers high and dry.
Will American Companies Get the Memo?
I don’t ask for much; I just want car companies to make cars. This is something that Toyota understands, which is easy to see from the moment you look at the 2023 Crown and the rest of the brand’s lineup. At this point, it feels like the domestic brands are all-in on giving drivers more options for trucks and SUVs without much interest in sedans and hatchbacks that meet the needs of a lot of people. It’s a shame, as far as I’m concerned. I’m hopeful that perhaps the new focus on electric vehicles will encourage more companies to offer electrified sedans or hatches—although Chevy’s recent cancellation of the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV is not a good indicator. With the Toyota Crown, we can see a better way to make a lineup by developing fantastic cars that appeal to a wide range of drivers, including many people other companies don’t seem interested in serving.