We all know that Toyota makes a lot of vehicles—they are the world’s largest automaker, after all. So, when the company both introduces something new to the market and completely redesigns a current vehicle from the ground up, it’s a big deal. Introducing the Toyota Crown and reintroducing the Toyota Prius: two new vehicles that you need to know about and that will keep Toyota’s dominance in the automotive market.
Although the Toyota Crown’s history stretches back nearly 70 years and 15 generations, this is the first Crown to be sold in the US since 1972. It takes the place of the discontinued Avalon as the only full-size sedan in their line-up. The term “sedan” is a little misleading, however: The Crown is actually what Toyota is calling “a dynamic combination of elements.” It includes the “executive styling of a premium sedan, the flowing shape of a sports car, and the elevated cabin of an SUV.” In other words, it’s a sporty 4-door car with a taller ride height but, hey, it works! Toyota knows that everyone is gravitating to SUVs, so the Crown incorporates SUV-like features that today’s buyers want—mainly a taller cabin for easier entry/exit and standard all-wheel-drive.
The Crown comes in three flavors, the entry level XLE starting at $39,950, the more option-packed Limited at $45,550, and the top-of-the-line Platinum at $52,350. The XLE and Limited models both share the same continuous variable transmission (CVT) and a 2.5L 4-cylinder Hybrid engine producing 236 horsepower—good for a 7.6 second 0-60mph run. The Platinum version ups the ante by adding an adaptive variable suspension system, switching the transmission to a 6-speed automatic, and upgrading the engine to a 2.4L turbo 4-cylinder Hybrid. This “Hybrid MAX” generates a hefty 340 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque—making for a fairly impressive 5.7 second 0-60mph launch. At almost 4,000 lbs. for the XLE and Limited, the Crown is not necessarily what you would call a lightweight. Thanks to its Hybrid powertrain, however, EPA gas mileage numbers are very good: 42mpg/city and 41mpg/highway. Although the Platinum edition suffers a bit with its higher horsepower and additional 300 lbs., it still manages a decent 29mpg/city and 32mpg/highway.
Driving the new Crown feels smooth and refined with minimal body roll in the corners. The suspension soaks up road imperfections like a champ, and the Hybrid regenerative braking feels exactly like regular braking—gone is the jerkiness of the computer figuring out the best way to stop the car. Of course, the Crown has its downsides: Despite the overall height of the vehicle, headroom is not great—especially in the back where the sloping roofline really eats into the space. Additionally, while the interior is attractive for the lower-level Crown models, in the $52K Platinum version, it feels a bit low-rent—even with the cool brass accents.
Overall, the all-new Toyota Crown is a great “elevated cabin” vehicle. If money is no object, the Platinum edition is the way to go. The extra power and better suspension setup really turn the Crown into a performance vehicle, raising the fun-to-drive factor from “good enough” to “oh yeah!”
And as if that wasn’t reason enough to cheer already, this year Toyota also introduced the completely-redesigned Prius. From its inception, the Toyota Prius has always been about efficiency—getting the absolute most mileage out of every drop of gasoline—which unfortunately dictated the shape of the exterior design. But now, instead of being solely constructed around optimal drag-ecoefficiency, the Prius is now beautiful with flowing lines, a high-tech look, and modern details.
For 2023, the Prius gets a new 2.0L 4-cylinder Hybrid engine, producing 194 net horsepower for the front-wheel-drive (FWD) version and 196 net horsepower with all-wheel-drive (AWD). This is up 73 horsepower from the previous generation, and—despite Toyota admitting that mpg was not a priority for the redesign—the new Prius is actually more efficient than any of its predecessors with up to 57mpg. Like with the Toyota Crown, there are three trim levels available, starting with the LE at $27,450, then moving up to the XLE at $30,895, and rounding it off with the Limited at $34,465. All-wheel-drive is available on all trims for an additional $1,400.
Although the highly stylized sloping roofline really hinders rear headroom and visibility, the rest of the Prius proves much better. Handling is more engaging and responsive than the outgoing model, and the ride is quiet. Toyota has also done a great job in making its continuous variable transmissions (CVT) buttery-smooth. The improvement of this new Prius compared to its old model just proves that there is still a market for great-looking, fuel-efficient cars. With the new Crown and redesigned Prius, Toyota continues to push the envelope of Hybrid technology, increasing power, expanding mileage, and offering great efficiency without the need to stop and plug in.