Toyota Crown Platinum flagship rises in full force

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, driving, front.Photo courtesy of Toyota
Photo courtesy of Toyota

In the words of eccentric British comedy troupe Monty Python: Now for something completely different.

I can introduce you to the all-new Toyota Crown, the successor to Toyota’s flagship Avalon sedan, with styling so polarizing that you’re bound to wonder: What the hell? or similar words.

It’s a car that’s almost four cars in one. It’s part four-door sedan, part high-riding crossover SUV, part four-door coupe, part XL hybrid Prius.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, parked, silhouette

Think of it as Toyota daring to be different, adding something new to the traditional and dying four-door sedan segment. Some people may hate it. To me, as someone who loves all things weird, it was shocking.

Of course, raised sedans are nothing new. Remember AMC Eagle? Or the stylish Volvo S60 Cross Country? The car is more than four inches taller than the previous Avalon and has a striking appearance with cool-looking 21-inch wheels.

Viewed from the side, the way the roofline cascades back is beautiful. The way the roof combines with the high beltline, giving it a coupe-like appearance as it soars upwards, is just so cool.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, parked frontally

Well, the front end is a bit finicky. And too much black plastic is injected into it. Adding a little chrome here and there to break up the blackened look will reduce the visual weight.

Toyota takes the “dare to be different” theme to the extreme with its quirky two-tone paint option, which includes a shiny black hood and rear end. Luckily, that’s exactly what it is; an option.

But in the week I spent driving the leather-lined flagship Crown Platinum ($53,445 fully loaded), I lost count of the number of dizzy spells, thumbs-ups, iPhone photos and “Hey, what’s that?” Got it from passersby.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, 21-inch wheels

Yes, you can buy the new Crown XLE for around $41,000, or the Limited Edition for $46,600. But what you really want are platinum-grade fancy pants. How do you eat it? This is what goes on behind the scenes.

While all three Crown models come standard with a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive, the Platinum model comes with Toyota’s new, performance-maximizing Hybrid Max setup.

The system borrows design from the latest Lexus RX500h crossover and features a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine, front and rear electric motors, and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, steering wheel, dashboard

This combination of technology produces 340 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, with electric assist for Usain Bolt-style sprints off the line. Pump the pedal hard and you’ll see zero to 60 dashes in 5.7 seconds.

Being hybrid means it’s very sparing in its need for gasoline. Around town, you’ll see 29 gallons, and up to 32 gallons on the highway. XLE and Limited models use a less powerful 236-horsepower hybrid system that averages 42 miles per gallon in the city and 41 miles per gallon on the highway.

On the road, our Crown Platinum checked all the right boxes. It’s a lively performer, accelerating eagerly for quick overtaking and safe motorway merges. Yes, the four-cylinder engine can sound a bit throaty under hard acceleration, but it’s far from squeaky.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, driver's seat

Show it a curve and there’s barely any body roll, thanks to adaptive dampers, while the electrically assisted steering has enough weight and precision to keep things interesting. Otherwise, the ride is as smooth as a luxury car’s, even on the hardest tarmac.

The level of standard equipment inside is first-rate. Everything is included, from heated and ventilated leather front seats to a full-length panoramic glass roof, 11-speaker JBL stereo and 12.3-inch touchscreen.

Yes, that swooping roofline does take away headroom in the back, and the trunk is a bit shallow. But the raised ride height makes entry and exit a breeze.

Toyota Crown Platinum sedan, driver, rear.Photo courtesy of Toyota
Photo courtesy of Toyota

Think of this new Crown as the perfect crossover, blending a regular sedan with a compact SUV, with the benefits of hybrid power and economy.

It would be victory after victory and victory after victory.

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