Toyota Crown Hybrid Road Test

Laurance Yap
Nov 2022
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Is there still a market for large sedans? Toyota seems to think so. Its new top model, the Crown, is a different and intriguing take on the luxury sedan. It combines a tall, almost SUV-like ride height with standard all-wheel drive and and impressively efficient hybrid powertrain.
Toyota Crown parked in front of building

A Unique Look for Toyota’s Top Sedan

The words “bold” and “sedan” don’t typically go together, but the all-new 2023 Toyota Crown has a look all its own. With its gigantic wheels, a sleek silhouette, tall ride height, and available two-tone paint, it doesn’t look like anything else on the road. Not only does it bring a different and unique style to the sedan segment, but it’s also one of the boldest-looking Toyotas.

The Crown, which fittingly sits at the top of Toyota’s lineup, doesn’t just have style. It brings the added confidence of standard all-wheel drive to the segment as well as a choice of two electrified powertrains – a conventional hybrid as well as Toyota’s new Hybrid Max system.

What’s the new Crown like to drive? Read on to find out.

All-Hybrid, All-Powerful

The Crown offers a choice of two different hybrid powertrains: the new Hybrid Max or the familiar Toyota Hybrid System (THS). Hybrid Max is a new performance-oriented hybrid system that puts out 340 net hp and a massive 400 lb-ft. of torque. Exclusive to the top Platinum trim level, Hybrid Max pairs front and rear electric motors with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Thanks to the electric motors and the turbo, the Crown Platinum with Hybrid Max system produces powerful torque at low revs, making it very responsive in around-town driving. With the highest power output of the two drivetrains, the Hybrid Max gets 29 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway, according to the EPA.

If you don’t need that much power, other Crown models are equipped with the familiar Toyota Hybrid system, which combines front and rear electric motors with a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. This system is tuned more for efficiency, and delivers 42 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway, according to the EPA. It has a nickel-metal hydride battery whose output has increased to produce responsive acceleration and also provides a satisfying driving feel.

The Crown’s elevated stance puts it halfway between a sedan and SUV. standard 19- or 21-inch wheels, the largest ever on a Toyota sedan, give it a powerful look but also make it remarkably easy to get in and out of, and provide an excellent view of the road ahead.

On the road, the Crown Platinum’s six-speed transmission provides responsive acceleration and a surprisingly sporty feel, and paddle shifters add to the fun. Models fitted with the conventional hybrid system feature a continuously-variable transmission, reducing noise and vibration. Both systems feature selectable drive modes that let drivers tailor the vehicle’s personality, and an EV (electric vehicle) mode allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.

All Crown models come standard with all-wheel drive, which uses an electric motor to power the rear axle. The system provides additional traction and stability in slippery conditions, and improves the handling as well. Despite being significantly taller than a Camry, the Crown is a satisfying car to drive, and combines supreme comfort with good cornering. The Platinum trim includes an adaptive variable suspension as standard, offering even greater comfort and sportiness.

Toyota Crown dashboard

First-Class Accommodations

The Crown’s elevated ride height and long wheelbase provide great comfort for passengers front and rear. All trim levels are very well-equipped, and include power driver and front passenger seats with heating, and ventilation on higher grade models. Dual-zone climate control is operated with a thin control panel that runs along the dashboard below the touch screen. A panoramic glass moonroof and LED lighting add a premium feel.

Unlike previous Toyotas, which have been conservative on the technology front, Crown is right up to date. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster offers a wide range of customizable views. Wireless charging is standard, as are a multitude of USB-A and USB-C ports. The standard rear-view camera is enhanced on high-end models with a 360-degree overhead view.

All Crown models feature an all-new touchscreen multimedia system, with a much-improved interface and the ability to be updated over the air. Users can interact with the new system through touch as well as with their voice. Simple phrases like “Hey Toyota” will awaken the system and it takes natural voice commands for the navigation system and other vehicle functions like audio controls and cabin temperature.

The cloud-based native navigation system has real-time traffic updates and dynamic route suggestions, while Google point-of-interest data integration ensures up-to-date search capability. The Crown can use Bluetooth to connect to two mobile phones simultaneously, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included. The audio system is excellent as well, with the top JBL Premium Audio System with 11 speakers being a true standout.

Toyota Crown odometer screen

Safety First

Toyota has made a point of integrating active safety systems as standard in all its models, from the least expensive to the most exclusive. As such, all Crown models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, a suite of sensors and systems to keep drivers and their families safe.

The pre-collision system with pedestrian detection is actually capable of detecting motorcyclists and guardrails. Full-speed dynamic radar cruise control can maintain a safe distance from the car ahead at all speeds and bring the car to a stop in city traffic. An improved lane recognition system further enhances both lane departure alert and steering assist systems. They notify the driver with audible and visual alerts and even slight steering force if the vehicle is straying from its lane.

Other standard safety features on the Crown include a blind spot monitor to detect and warn you of vehicles approaching in adjacent lanes, and rear cross traffic alert, which detects vehicles approaching from either side while backing out of a parking space.

Rear view Toyota Crown driving


While most families have abandoned traditional sedans for SUVs, Toyota clearly feels that there’s still a market for big, luxurious four-doors. And instead of playing it safe and delivering something that looks conservative and feels boring, they’ve given us the Crown: a bold, adventurous sedan that has a personality and a look all its own.

While it likely won’t sell in big numbers, those who buy the Crown will love its combination of a high seating position, silent ride, impressive performance, up-to-date tech, and amazing hybrid fuel efficiency.

The new Toyota Crown has a starting MSRP of $39,950 before incentives for the XLE trim, $45,550 for the Limited trim and $52,350 for the top-level Platinum model.