After seeing the 2023 Toyota Crown for the first time a few months ago, we wrote, “Its form would hit the bullseye as an electric crossover, another of the shapely, lifted lozenges balancing the dictates of aerodynamics, packaging, and market tastes. The Crown even has a flat underfloor, the grubby bits from the front bumper to the rear suspension hidden behind aero panels.” In response a question about that, Toyota told us it had no plans to bring an electric Crown to the U.S. The company is ready to admit it's taking the midway step, however. CEO Akio Toyoda told Motor Trend at a dealer conference in Las Vegas that the U.S.-market Crown will get a plug-in hybrid form.
The step lends credence to a Reuters report from April of this year, citing insiders as saying Toyota plans PHEV and battery-electric versions of the new crossover. In the Reuters piece, though, the Crown PHEV was only for the Japanese market and would debut next year; the EV would arrive in early 2024. If the Reuters report was accurate, it's impossible to know what's occurred between then and now, just as much as it's impossible to know what's going to occur over with a potential EV version in 18 months. Toyota will put the Crown on global markets whenever it goes on sale, so it's possible the PHEV comes here but an EV trim does not.
The finer question about a Crown PHEV is what powertrain it will get. At the moment, the automaker dubs its PHEVs “Prime” and makes them the most powerful trims in their respective model lineups. The sportiest Crown we've been told about for now is the Hybrid Max variant, expected to make around 340 horsepower. The hitch is that Toyota's U.S. lineup doesn't include a Prime model right now that makes even that much power, never mind making more. The hybrid powertrain in the new Lexus RX 500h, which is the same as in the Crown Hybrid Max, produces 366 hp and 406 pound-feet of torque, but there's no plug on the Lexus, either. The Lexus RX 450+ PHEV gets up 302 total horsepower, the base Crown hybrid makes 236 hp, the Toyota RAV4 Prime makes 219 hp, putting a lot of numbers on the ground for a Crown PHEV to play hopscotch with.
Instead of shooting at the winning number, the Crown PHEV could focus on its mantle as Toyota's historic technology leader and debut the automaker's solid-state batteries. The firm has been throwing money at the advanced battery tech and production facilities to satisfy demand, and earlier this year said the packs would go on sale in 2025 in a hybrid model, not an electric vehicle. Stay tuned.