|Positives: Original styling, better interior than the Avalon, potent powertrain, very efficient for the size, almost 600 miles of driving range on a full tank.|
|Negatives: Baboon's butt rear end, so-so premium stereo sound, Lexus-level pricing in top trim.|
|Bottom Line: The Crown is a unique entrant into the ever-shrinking full-sized sedan segment, and it's got a lot to offer in terms of space, technology, safety, efficiency, and comfort. Just don't look at it from behind.|
The Crown's driving experience can best be summed up in one word: competent. The upgraded Hybrid Max powertrain is more than capable. It's not meant to nail the apexes, but its ability to manage everyday driving with comfort just about makes up for it. We're thankful that the 340-hp version doesn't have a CVT, instead opting for a 6-speed manual. Every trim level also, thankfully, comes with standard all-wheel drive.
Ride Quality: The ride in the Crown is very nice, managing bumps and gaps very well. Even with the larger 21" wheels, it's still quite comfortable.
Acceleration: Our powerful Platinum tester puts a minimum of 30 percent of power to the rear wheels and up to 80 percent, getting to 60 mph in an impressive 5.1 seconds. The 6-speed automatic shifts smoothly and without drama. It's almost a full second quicker than the last Avalon.
Braking: The Crown's regen braking is one of the best we've ever experienced with very good feel and progression. Braking forces allow for strong and consistent stopping.
Steering: The steering is largely absent of feedback, but there is some decent steering effort. It's also accurate and on-center.
Handling: The Crown is about 4 inches taller than the Avalon, and its suspension is more for comfort than for curves. You feel the body roll, but it's mostly controlled, aided by the Platinum's adaptive dampers. The all-wheel drive certainly helps.
In-car technology in the Crown is much better than the Avalon's, which looked a lot older than it was. The Crown gets a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that's standard, and it also benefits from wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The matching 12.3-inch digital instrument display is also vivid and easy to view. The Crown also comes with a wireless smartphone charging pad, and onboard Wi-Fi.
Infotainment System: The new operating system looks far better than the Avalon. It's easy to read, viewable in bright sunlight, and decently responsive. It's just too bad that there's no physical infotainment controller.
Controls: The small shift knob is easy to use and saves space on the center console. We also like the single row of climate control buttons. The setup is compact but very easy to operate while driving.
While we wouldn't accuse the Crown of being attractive, it certainly looks like no other vehicle on the road today, especially with two-tone paint. Our tester looked like a giant Duracell battery with its black and copper paint scheme. The actual styling is polarizing with dramatic front and rear ends, the latter of which seems to have been inspired by the non-business end of a baboon. The interior of our Platinum tester is a mix of premium and cheap materials. It's an interesting blend that doesn't quite work for the price.
Front: The top half of the front fascai is simple and pleasing, including the thin triple beam headlights. The lower half, sadly, is overwrought with a giant black plastic mesh slab that's reminiscent of the Avalon's huge maw. We think Toyota could've done way better than this.
Rear: Oh, that rear end. What a sight. Sure, it's not bad straight on with its thin single taillight element and the simple CROWN lettering. But in two-tone paint from the rear 3/4th's view, it looks like a baboon's butt.
Profile: The side view is interesting, almost off-roady with the black wheel well trim and the floating spoke 21" wheels. We could do without the chrome door handle trim and the crime window frame strip, as well as the black plastic above the rocker panels.
Cabin: The interior is a mix of brushed metallic plastic, dark plastic, and leather. It's definitely not Lexus-like inside, but it's still nicer than the oddly styled Avalon's interior.
The Toyota Crown is longer than the Avalon which it replaces, and it's categorized as a large sedan, but the interior is not as roomy as the Avalon's. While it's still pretty good, there are midsize sedans that are more spacious, namely the Honda Accord.
Front Seats: The front seats ar comfortable and well-cushioned. We had no trouble getting into a good sitting position.
Rear Seats: The rear seats get 38.9 inches of legroom, which is less than the Avalon's 40.3. The Accord, by comparison, gets 40.8, and costs far less.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The sound deadening in the Crown is good, but it's not as hushed as, say, a Lexus ES. There is some noise from the hybrid powertrain, but it's not overwhelming. Road noise and wind noise are kept to a minimum, and build quality is also very good.
Visibility: The only real visibility issue is out the side rear where there's a tiny window and a rising shoulder.
Climate: The climate system works well, and the Crown generated plenty of cold AC during a warm week. The ventilated seats also worked well.
The Crown has yet to be crash-tested by the IIHS and the NHTSA. At least it has Toyota's latest full suite of standard safety features, and it's a rather comprehensive set.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The Crown comes with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0+ which includes Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist, and Proactive Driving Assist
Optional Tech: None.
The Crown is categorized as a large sedan, but its cargo space is just about average. In terms of interior storage space, it actually does pretty well, and there are plenty of locations for small daily gear items within reach of the driver.
Storage Space: We like the location of the cupholders adjacent to the small shift lever, and the vertical wireless smartphone charger also saves on space. The door pockets are on the small side, but they're deep enough for a large water bottle.
Cargo Room: 15.2 cubic feet of trunk space is larger than the Genesis G80. The trunk opening is wide, but the seat back aperture is on the narrow side, which limits the width of longer objects. It's definitely smaller than the Honda Accord (16.7) or the Volkswagen Arteon's massive hatchback (27.2).
The EPA' s estimates are spot on, giving the top-trim Hybrid Max version a 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway rating. We drove in Sport+ mode most of the time and were able to get very close to the combined number in both highway and local driving.
Observed: 28.3 mpg.
Distance Driven: 192 miles.
It's a good thing the premium JBL sound system with amplifier and subwoofer comes standard on the Platinum trim because it's not very good. It lacks the sound quality of its predecessor's optional $1,700 JBL 14-speaker system. We're not sure what happened in the transition, but this system doesn't sound especially premium.