Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4, 105kW motor
Power:
217 HP (combined)
Transmission:
e-CVT
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Seating:
2+3
MPG:
54.6 MPG (JC08 Cycle)
We don't often come into contact with the Toyota Crown Hybrid, especially in colors other than pink. But when Toyota offered us the keys and a half-hour window to test out the Japanese version of the Lexus GS on US soil not long ago, we had to accept.

Driving Notes:
  • We'll start with the start. The Crown Hybrid makes the friendliest, Japanese-iest sound when you turn it on. It's like a high-fructose THX movie is starting. Considering this is a premium car, we were surprised the first time we turned it on, but then had to do it again and again. Purely for journalistic video-capturing reasons, of course, so you can watch and hear it below. We wish we had better-than-cellphone microphones to capture it.
  • Compared to the Lexus GS 300h, which we drove immediately afterword along with the exact same route, it is clear the Crown is an executive's car. The seats and suspension somehow made us feel privileged, not a feeling we're used to in most hybrid cars. The Crown's plush interior made everything feel comfy and quiet, and the floaty suspension in the rear-wheel-drive car handled a short stretch on Michigan's bumpy I-94 highway with ease.
  • There is such a thing as too much plush, though. The leather-wrapped steering wheel felt softer than we are used to, and the squishiness all around the lumbar area of the driver's seat made the adjustable seat supports in the Lexus a welcome difference. The suspension in the GS was much tighter and the steering response was more direct, too, giving the two cars completely different feels. The Lexus has more pick-up as well. In fact, if you can't get to Japan for a test drive, the best way to imagine what it's like to pilot the Crown is to drive a Lexus on top of a cloud and still make it puffier and softer all around.
  • Toyota has been selling versions of the Crown sedan in Japan since the 1955, adding a gas-electric hybrid option with the eleventh generation in the early 2000s. The current-generation Crown, the 14th, was introduced late in 2012 and the production of the new hybrid model started in early 2013. The gasoline side of the powertrain equation is a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder inline Atkinson cycle that doesn't get in the way of enjoying the quiet cabin. The juice is stored in a nickel-metal hydride battery and sent out a 105-kW electric motor. The total system provides an overall output of 217 horsepower.
  • It needs that much oomph to move, since it's a big car. Still, the Crown offers decent visibility through the windows, and there are four exterior cameras to give even more information about what's going on outside.
  • Our overwhelming first impression is that the dashboard has too many buttons. It took us a while to find the economy settings using all the buttons along with the Multi-Operation Touch screen because everything was in Japanese (ours isn't all that good, especially while driving) and backwards given the right-hand drive. When we did, we discovered our average fuel economy over 17.9 km (11.1 miles) was 12.8 km per liter (30.1 mpg). We'll be the first to admit that 11 miles isn't anywhere near enough to get an accurate gauge of what the Crown Hybrid actually achieves, mpg-wise, but the official number is 23.2 km/l (54.6 mpg) on the lenient home-market JC08 test cycle.
  • As much as we like the idea of more and more hybrids on American roads, we understand why Toyota is not bringing the Crown Hybrid to the US. It doesn't in any way fit with the Toyota hybrid family here, which is sort of like the colorful and fun iPhone 5C compared to Crown's golden iPhone 5S elegance. Besides, our luxury hybrid slot is filled by Lexus. Toyota and Lexus offer 23 hybrid models worldwide – and have sold five million gas-electric vehicles over the past decade – and you just can't have everything everywhere. For the long-term, Toyota believes fuel cells are the future of green motoring, with hybrid technology being the bridge to get there. The Crown Hybrid helps make it a very long, comfy bridge.


Toyota Crown Hybrid Startup Sound


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      MikeInNC
      • 1 Year Ago
      the horror....
      Rick
      • 1 Year Ago
      hahaha, wow, that's one horrific front end.
      GR
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm going to try explain this car the best I can given this is a very JDM car never intended for the US. I was born and raised in Japan so let me try to help you guys understand this very Japanese car that's been around for decades. First of all, the Crown is the Japanese equivalent of something like the Cadillac DeVille. It's a car really aimed at older men, almost exclusively. The Crown even has the stereotype that it's driven by phantom-golf-club-swinging, near or already retired middle to upper management-type Japanese men. If you are Japanese or lived in Japan long enough, you know exactly who I'm talking about. A car like this prioritizes comfort and noise isolation above all else. If you read the article, the underlining thing the author noted about the car was the plushy ride and softness of the car. The car is supposed to be like a sofa you can drive that isolates you from the outside world. It's not intended to be a sports sedan nor a ultra-expensive "Look at me, look at me!" brand-***** car. It's for geezers who can care less. After all, we are talking about a car offered in a 4 cylinder hybrid and traditionally only 6 cylinders. Toyota knows that these cars are not going to be carving up mountain roads nor valet-parked around fancy night clubs, but more likely idling around in traffic going from sushi bar to golf driving ranges. A hybrid variant makes a lot of sense, especially in Japan. While a lot of you are saying this thing is ugly or a pathetic copy of a German car, let me assure you it caters towards a different crowd than you guys unless you are over 50 years old and fascinate about driving a golf ball down the range. It's made for older men who can care less about the **** young people obsess about. The build quality is very good and it's not really the lease-mobile that many German cars serve as in the US for yuppies and mid-life crisis folks. This car is a geezer car and good at that. It also isn't all that bad looking, but maybe that's my Japanese side talking. Regardless, this is one of Toyota most defining cars in Japan and even famous cars like the Camry and Corolla derived their names from it. Camry is the Westernized spelling/pronunciation for the Japanese word 'kanmuri' which is crown in Japanese. Corolla means a small crown in Spanish. When I grow old, I may want a Toyota Crown and not give a **** what you all think.
        Scooter
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        I enjoyed reading this comment. It was a thumbs-up say nothing negative comment, but a very realistic observation. Sorry folks, but stereotypes don't exist because there's absolutely no truth to them, they exist because in the realm of reality they are generally true. Just the same if I said Toyota Avalons are almost always piloted by the elderly. Or 1 series drivers are usually d-bags? Corvette drivers are relaxed older men in the 50s and up. Generalities are not always in perfect, politically-correct taste, but they generally true. I would have to agree with everything GR says.
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        @ GR Thanks GR, for a very accurate insight into the reasoning behind the venerable Toyota Crown Royal.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          No problem. I often feel that the JDM needs explanation much like many things from Japan. They often leave non-Japanese like: O.o
        Colin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        But it is still very plain Jane, with a silly name, in English at least. Nobody doubts its virtues, it is simply the fact that they are hidden by such an undistinguished skin. And no matter what anyone says, the fact is this is derivative, with no identifiable feature of its own. Ugly can work, if it is brave and clever ugly. This isn't even properly ugly, as I said, it is merely plain. Doubtless the Japanese who play golf do love it, but this forum is open to a broader audience.
        Levine Levine
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        At one time Toyota named nearly all of its cars starting with the letter C: Corolla, Corona, Camry, Cressida, Crown. "When I grow old, I may want a Toyota Crown and not give a **** what you all think." By the time you grow that old, Toyota will have named another car starting with letter C for you : Coffin.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        [blocked]
      Terry Actill
      • 1 Year Ago
      Better than a Buick.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      cooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      That car seriously got smacked with the ugly stick
      methos1999
      • 1 Year Ago
      It never surprises me that there's somebody out there who thinks a car like this looks good. What always surprises me is that so many people should think cars like this or the Aztec look and allow it to make it to production - I mean isn't there a discerning executive somewhere along the way that says "no"? Clearly not...
        Alex Ellsworth
        • 1 Year Ago
        @methos1999
        Living in Asia, I think the older generation of ~50+ folks who tend to hold positions of power here have some exceptionally bad, baroque taste that doesn't fall in line with current global trends... perhaps like the Detroit execs who continued churning out chrome laden barges through the 80's and into the 90's. But that will change with the passage of a little time; younger folks are global-hipster-minded.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @methos1999
        I have to agree. Earlier generations of Toyota Crowns have a majestic air about them. This one just looks rental. It\'s like the japanese and korean carmakers have switched places in recent years.
      herrstreet
      • 1 Year Ago
      For everyone who's favorite animal is the Proboscis Monkey... we have a car for you!
      Kristen
      • 1 Year Ago
      All new. From Toyota. Now you're driving with whisky.
      Muttons
      • 1 Year Ago
      I believe this car has a grille.
      vizcarmb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Does it come in purple?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @vizcarmb
        [blocked]
      Karl_T
      • 1 Year Ago
      That front actually makes even Miley's face look good.
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