The Crown’s Quirks Are Fun, But Its Price Is Not
- Trim Tested: Crown Platinum
- Price as Tested: $54,970 (including destination charge)
- What We Like: Good mpg; 340 horsepower in Platinum trim
- What We Don’t: As expensive as a Lexus; tall ride height hurts cornering performance
The new Crown replaces the Avalon as Toyota’s biggest sedan. It’s only available as a hybrid, combining the high ride height of an SUV with the shape of a sedan.
Our Platinum test trim had 340 horsepower, which is impressive, but it cost $54,970, which isn’t. For that money, you could buy a well-equipped luxury car. Still, there is no other car on the market quite like the Crown, so it appeals to the iconoclast in me. I drove the Crown for a week, and these are my impressions.
How It Drives
The Crown never feels sporty, even when the drive mode is in Sport or Sport+. This is a full-size Toyota designed for cruising. Our top-of-the-line Platinum trim had 340 horsepower. There’s no denying that 340 horsepower is a lot, and with the standard all-wheel drive system, it can lay down that power efficiency, launching from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds. But it’s also a hybrid, so there’s a lot going on under the hood. A feeling of direct connection to the engine, and by extension, straight-line speed, just isn’t there. I imagine the situation is worse in the base model, which only has 236 horsepower and a CVT instead of a conventional 6-speed automatic.
The main benefit of complicated powertrains is high fuel economy. At 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving, the Crown Platinum is no Prius. Still, 30 mpg is great for a car with 340 horsepower; the base 236-horsepower model gets 41 mpg.
In addition to an upgraded engine, the Platinum model has an upgraded suspension with driver-controlled dampers. Putting the Crown in Sport mode firms them to improve cornering performance. Even with Sport mode turned on, the Crown is no athlete. It’s designed for smooth cruising. Its tall height doesn’t help.
The Crown has a starting price of $40,000, which is high but not unheard of for a full-size sedan. However, our top-of-the-line Platinum model is $55,000. What else can you buy for the money? Even in the challenging post-COVID car-buying era, $55K is a lot. It could get you, in alphabetical order: an Acura TLX Type S, Audi S5 Sportback, BMW M340i, Genesis G80, Lexus ES Hybrid, Mercedes E-Class, or a Tesla Model 3 Performance. That last car doesn’t use a drop of gas and can go 0-60 faster than a Ferrari Enzo.
So, yeah. The Crown is going up against some serious luxury metal. Most of those cars have a significant performance edge over the Crown, in addition to their brand cache. Choosing Toyota means making a contrarian choice.
Interior Comfort & Quality
The interior of the Crown is well-made but not particularly luxurious. It is too much like other Toyota interiors to feel like a step above, and it needs to feel nicer with a $55,000 price tag. There are a few idiosyncratic touches to match the funky exterior styling: The copper-colored trim and funky vents are two.
The seating feels no more comfortable than a Camry’s, one step down in the Toyota sedan hierarchy. The front seats are firm, have limited adjustment, and make a weird beeping sound when you slide or recline them. I suppose this is a safety feature to make other passengers aware that the seat is moving, but it’s annoying.
The rear seat is also firm and barely has enough headroom for my 6-foot frame. There isn’t an appreciable increase in legroom compared with the Camry. Foot space is minimal for back-seat passengers because the front seats are low.
Technology & Usability
One highlight of the Crown’s interior design is how the screens are integrated into the dashboard. A bright, wide touchscreen is the anchor around which the infotainment system is built. Clear virtual buttons and flawless smartphone integration make it a joy to use. When I connected the wireless Android Auto, it filled up the entire screen. Many competitors limit Android Auto to half the available screen space. The wireless smartphone charger is also one of the best I’ve seen: You slip your phone in vertically, so it doesn’t take up much space, and it holds the phone tightly against the charging pad.
The virtual gauge is endlessly customizable. The screen has three sections to customize, with options like a map, a compass, and a fuel economy meter. You can save three versions of the screen, giving you nine slots to work with.
Besides the screens, advanced technology includes semi-automated steering on the highway and automatic parking that displays a cool 3D model of your vehicle on the touchscreen.
Read our full 2023 Toyota Crown review for more specs and information about the entire Crown lineup.
Carfax vehicle reviews let shoppers compare a vehicle’s specs against its competitors. However, some aspects of a vehicle – performance, comfort, usability – can only be evaluated through actual driving. That’s why we evaluate as many vehicles as we can, so you’ll know what to expect.
If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com