Toyota hasn’t abandoned the sedan segment by any means, but they are tackling things from a different angle, leaving the baby boomers behind and replacing their beloved Avalon full-size 4-door with a car portraying a more rugged, youthful vibe. Let’s find out if Toyota’s crowning achievement will give buyers the royal treatment.

The name, Toyota Crown, may be new to you, but it has a very long and storied history going back to 1955; and it was actually the first Toyota sold here in the US, remaining in our market up until 1972. The Lexus GS also shared its platform for many years.

This 2023 Toyota Crown is actually the replacement for the brand’s flagship Avalon sedan. A much bolder attempt to draw younger buyers to the fold. And since everyone is mostly into SUVs these days, Toyota has given it a bit of an adventure-minded flare along with a seating position that’s much higher than the typical sedan, yet not quite into SUV territory. The Crown also comes with standard all-wheel drive and is available exclusively as a hybrid, though there are 2 options to choose from.

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XLE and Limited grades get the standard 2.5-liter I4 Toyota Hybrid System with 236-horsepower. Top Platinum rolls with a turbocharged 2.4-liter Hybrid Max setup that produces a combined 340-horsepower and 400 lb-ft. of torque. With our Hybrid Max test car in Sport + mode, it felt really torquey off the line at our test track; good grip meant just a slight chirp of the tires and then a quick scoot of 5.9 second to 60.

The Max also comes with a wet-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a 61-kW electric motor providing constant power to minimize lag between shifts. It all works to help the Crown feel plenty powerful throughout its 14.6 second ¼-mile at 97 miles-per-hour. The standard hybrid works with Toyota’s typical eCVT.

But, noticeable understeer and body roll did give the Crown an SUV-like feel through our handling course. Still, keeping speeds sensible, the light, responsive steering and good feedback through the wheel, allowed us to easily keep on top of it.

The Max comes with additional drive modes and its all-wheel drive setup is unique as well. Rather than the standard Hybrid’s on-demand arrangement, the Max’s 58.6-kW water-cooled rear eAxle motor is always feeding in some level of power. In panic braking runs, there was a nice firm pedal, very little ABS pulse, and only moderate nosedive accompanying short stops of 115-feet from 60.

Questionable TRD treatments aside, the Avalon was never really about performance; much more important was how you were treated inside. The Crown certainly appears more modern, and both the look and feel of materials do a fine job of bridging the gap between Toyota and luxury-minded Lexus. There are great looking 12.3-inch screens for both driver info and infotainment, and the seats feel straight out of Lexus, with plenty of adjustments and good comfort. Like the Avalon before it, there’s technically not enough interior space to be considered full-size, but rear seat legroom is plentiful.

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Outside, it certainly has a jacked-up look to it, and its sloping roof is about 4-inches taller than the Camry’s, but ground clearance is almost exactly the same as Camry, just a tenth of an inch higher. And it is a true sedan, with a big 15.2 cubic-ft. trunk.

If you don’t like the added black painted hood and body panels of Toyota’s Bi-tone, not to worry– it’s only available with Platinum trim, and optional on top of that. The 21-inch wheels are standard with Platinum and keep the ride from being quite Lexus-like, but that situation can be somewhat cured with the Adaptive Variable Suspension from Lexus set to comfort mode.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Max are 29-City, 32-Highway, and 30-Combined; we averaged a good 30.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with XLE at $41,045; top Platinum comes in at $53,445 with Limited in between.

While we agree that the Avalon needed a major reboot, we’re not quite ready to pledge total allegiance to this Crown just yet. Still, we do applaud the new approach of adding both some performance and utility-like flair, as well as the technology behind it. Moreover, we’ll standup and cheer that Toyota remains committed to building 4-door sedans.

The 2023 Toyota Crown… long may you reign.


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter I-4
  • Horsepower: 340
  • 0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 30.5 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Torque: 400 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.6 seconds at 97 mph
  • EPA: 29 City / 32 Highway / 30 Combined