2012 Toyota Crown

Behind the code name S210, Toyota introduces its new generation of the Crown, the 14th ! One thing to understand is that the Crown is not just another car from Toyota. It is its longest running passenger-car. The first generation was introduced in 1955 and it has served as the luxury sedan from Toyota in the Japanese market every since. Owning a Crown has long been regarded as a social achievement in Japan. So when Toyota decides to launch a new Crown, it is no small event for the car industry in the land of the rising sun.

As with previous generations, customers can choose from two Crown variants: Royal and Athlete. Royal plays the luxurious note, while Athlete targets a sportier attitude. The main difference with the previous generation is that the hybrid is now available for both variants instead of constituting one of its own. As a result, is now possible to get an Athlete Hybrid or a Royal Hybrid.

On the outside, both variants differ mainly in their nose with the Athlete displaying a more aggressive radiator grille than the Royal and also having a height reduced by 10mm. On the inside, different color combinations and materials are used to make the Royal more luxurious in appearance. While the Athlete offers seats designed to hold you firmly, a lot more attention is paid to the rear passengers of the Royal with seats that can be reclined electrically, and a center armrest that allows you to control the air conditioning as well as the entertainment system. This probably makes the Crown one of the most comfortable car to be seated in.

Under the hood, the basis is the 2.5L V6 engine with an output of 149 kW (203PS) and a torque of 243 Nm. Then there is the hybrid version with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine with an output of 131kW (178PS) and 221Nm coupled to an electric motor of 105kW (143PS) and 300Nm for an overall power estimated to 162kW (220PS). Finally, for the Athlete, there is the 3.5L V6 engine with an output of 232kW (315PS) and 377Nm. The hybrid version of the 3.5L V6 engine has sadly disappeared from the Crown range and can now only be found in the Lexus.

The new Crown is both wider (4,895mm) and longer (1,800mm) than its predecessor but also lighter (1630kg for the hybrid version) and… cheaper ! Taking the G package as a reference (the most complete package of the series), the old Crown used to cost ¥6,200,000 while the new Crown Athlete Hybrid now costs ¥5,430,000 and the Royal ¥5,360,000. Toyota explained us that by making it cheaper they hope to significantly sell more Crown in Japan than before.

Because I currently own and drive a 2011 Crown Hybrid, which I very much like, I was eager to drive the new Crown. After trying out the Athlete in hybrid and non-hybrid versions during an event organized by Toyota in Yokohama, the good news is that the Crown remains… well, the Crown and that despite of being cheaper ! It is still very well built, still extremely comfortable, nimble and pleasant to drive. To be honest, I do regret the lack of 3.5L hybrid but looking at the fuel consumption figure (23.2 km/L for the new Crown Hybrid vs. 14 km/L for the previous one) that is something I would certainly quickly forget. So well done Toyota ! A car that was officially launched in pink with the help of Jean Reno and Takeshi Kitano was anyway meant to be a hit !

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