In the months between the first pictures of the 2023 Toyota Crown in the major auto media and the arrival of one in my driveway, my impression has been of a cartoonishly large sedan---practically on stilts. And that's not the case. Blame it on the camera angles, blame it on the optional black accents on the photo cars (incredibly, the worst offenders here seem to be Toyota's own photography) but the car just doesn't look like that in person---at least, if you're not lying on the ground.
I mean, I'll give you that the rear 3/4 view is a little hunchbacky---attributable to the way the belt line kicks up from the rear door handles on back, but seriously---the Crown looks better than most of its pictures---and hopefully, my photos show that. The Crown replaces the Avalon in Toyota's lineup. While the Avalon was always the "not-quite-a-Lexus", the Crown stakes out its own space---clearly belonging to the Toyota brand.
There are gasoline-powered Crowns, but our test vehicle is the 2023 Toyota Crown Limited, a hybrid. 236 combined system horsepower, with selectable drive modes and all-wheel drive. Zero to 60 happens in 7.6 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates---42 mpg city/41 highway/41 combined. If you want to send your Crown hurtling through the air more quickly, Platinum models have Toyota's Hybrid Max, which boosts total power to 340 horses, cuts 0-60 runs to 5.7 seconds but slashes fuel economy to 29 city/32 highway.
The trunk looks cavernous, but it's actually a little less than a cubic foot smaller than the outgoing Avalon's. Still, at 15.2 cubic feet, and with fold-down rear seats, it's solid by current sedan standards.
The instrument panel layout is clean, simple but elegant and materials and craftsmanship live up to Toyota's high standards. The base price of the 2023 Toyota Crown Limited is $46,645 including destination, and there's a chunk of standard equipment in that price---LED auto on/off headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic fixed-glass roof, Toyota's comprehensive active safety suite, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with a JBL 11-speaker audio system and wireless smartphone charging.
Our tester did have a few extra cost options---$2,950 for the Advanced Technology Package, which upgrades the wheels to 21-inch, ten-spoke dark metallic alloys, plus a panoramic view monitor, and remote connect with digital key capability, $425 for the Supersonic Red paint, $165 for a side puddle lamp and $463 for the Preferred Accessory Package including all-weather floor mats. Total tab: $50,648.
And that might be a problem in terms of sales---topping $50k for a Toyota sedan that isn't even the most powerful version. I'm writing this the same week as the review of the VW Arteon, a logical competitor without a hybrid, but with 300 horsepower and an as-tested price two grand lower. On its own merits, the 2023 Crown is a satisfying sedan with the high-quality reputation of Toyota. And it's a hybrid. That matters a lot.