Iconic for being Japan’s default taxi or police cruiser for decades, the Toyota Crown has been in production since 1955. Our market even got a taste of the model during its golden years, with the automobile becoming the brand’s first product ever to be exported to North America. While it would eventually be supplanted by the Corona Mark II/Cressida in the 1970s, we’d see parts of the vehicle return to our market through the Toyota Avalon and Lexus GS.
Meanwhile, the Crown executive series of sedans (and occasionally wagons) have been going strong in Japan for nearly 70 years — evolving gradually in the manner that Toyota typically prefers. But there have been stirrings that the company might discontinue the model for Japan, replicating FAW Toyota’s decision to turn the car into a sport-utility vehicle (based on the fourth-generation Highlander) in China. Now we’re getting reports that a similar scenario is being planned for other major markets, including the United States.
According to Reuters, the automaker intends to grow its global lineup next year with the introduction of the Crown SUV. This apparently does not preclude the continued existence of the sedan, however. While the new utility will likely be more prominent globally, the sedan is said to trudge onward in Asia after being remolded later this year. Both vehicles are alleged to see production in Toyota City, though nobody from within the company is willing to confirm anything at this juncture.
The SUV — which will come in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric models — marks an attempt to bring the 67-year-old Crown more in line with market trends as consumers shy away from sedans, the people said, declining to be identified because the information has not been made public.
Sales of the hybrid are expected from the summer of 2023 and will include exports to China and North America, while the plug-in hybrid is intended for the domestic market, they said.
The electric model is due to launch in early 2024 and the automaker has yet to finalise [sic] export plans, two of the people said.
China is already getting the standard Highlander (through GAC Toyota) and the fancier Crown Kluger that’s based on our XSE variant (via FAW Toyota). The company also produces 3.5-liter V6 and 2.5-liter hybrid I4 versions of the SUV at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, making it difficult to imagine exactly how this all plays out for the Crown SUV without the claimed all-electric model also hitting our shores.
Since this is supposed to be a premium model, it could simply get slotted into Lexus under a different name. There’s also been some speculation that the company simply wants to affix the Crown moniker to vehicle trims Toyota plans on selling with all the bells and whistles at its disposal for an elevated price. The Crown SUV would simply be the first example. Whatever the plan, Toyota won’t be able to keep it a secret for much longer. If the rumored utility is supposed to launch next year in multiple markets, the manufacturer absolutely has to begin drumming up interest soon to help with sales.
[Images: Toyota; Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock]
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