The Toyota Crown doesn’t readily fit into any conventional category. It has the stance of a crossover, but boasts a three-box, four-door design — and Toyota prefers to label it a sedan. But it appears a second Crown model is in the works for next year and the automaker may label the hybrid, all-wheel-drive SUV the Crown Sport.
The folks at Toyota have been having a bit of fun lately, offering up a series of teaser images hinting at products set to debut in the coming months — very likely at next month’s LA Auto Show.
The latest just landed in our inbox and the image and attached text raise more questions than they answer. “With All-Wheel Drive, this hybrid electric mid-size SUV goes 𝙗𝙚𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙙 what’s expected. C u … soon,” Toyota hinted.
A Crown-ing achievement?
Hmmm. That got us racing over to our list of Toyota products to see what the automaker might be referring to. Sequoia? Nope. Highlander? No. Venza? Nah. There’s clearly a “C” on the new model’s tailgate.
The only model that might fit is the Corolla Cross. But it’s decidedly not in the midsize SUV segment and it seems highly unlikely it would grow a size-class larger next year.
But how about this? Crown.
Okay, we know that, despite its tall stance, The current Crown is a “three-box” design, sans the classic SUV tailgate seen in this teaser image. Toyota has made a point of declaring that the new Crown is not an SUV. “We’re unapologetically calling this a sedan,” Joe Moses, head of marketing for Toyota North America, said almost exactly two years ago.
Expanding the Crown family
But, digging deeper into our notes from the Crown’s introduction we were reminded that Toyota was already thinking about other ways to use the Crown name, possibly rolling out an entire sub-brand with additional models.
And that, this teaser seems to strongly suggest, is exactly what’s about to happen.
There’ve already been hints that a model set to be named the Toyota Crown Sport is in the works, along with a possible wagon version that is reportedly to be called the Crown Estate.
Flexible platform goes all-hybrid
Whatever name Toyota goes with, expect to see the new SUV share the underlying TNGA-K platform with the next-generation Camry — which is all but certain to debut in Los Angeles next month. It’s an incredibly flexible platform that allows for a variety of different lengths, widths and heights — as well as multiple powertrains.
What is certain is that any new model badged Crown will exclusively use a hybrid drivetrain, just like the original sedan. And all-wheel-drive, as the teaser text suggests, will be standard.
For those who haven’t checked out the Crown sedan, the XLE and Limited packages make 236 horsepower from a 2.5-liter gas engine paired with three small electric motors. The top-spec Crown Platinum goes with Toyota’s beefier Hybrid Max drivetrain. It derives 340 ponies from a turbocharged 2.5-liter gas engine paired with a rear-mounted motor.
The Platinum package is reasonably sporty, hitting 60 in 5.1 seconds. The other trims need a more languid 7.2 seconds.
More to come
There have been some reports suggesting Toyota is also working up a plug-in hybrid version of the Crown line. No word on timing, however. The Platinum also adopts adaptive dampers which would certainly fit well on a Crown Sport-badged package.
The interior of a Crown Sport would likely run close to what we’ve seen with the current sedan, starting with the big 12.3-inch touchscreen powered by Toyota’s Alexa-style voice assistant.
Of course, we could be totally off-base and would have to quickly delete this report if that turns out to be the case.