We could be on the verge of the biggest shakeup of the Toyota Crown since the nameplate was first introduced all the way back in 1955.
The Crown is a large sedan currently into its fifteenth generation, with the latest generation closely related to the Toyota Mirai and Lexus LS. While it's no longer offered in the U.S., it serves as Toyota's mainstream flagship (the automaker also has the exclusive Century sedan that sells for Bentley money) and has significance as the original Crown was the first passenger car developed and built entirely in Japan.
Citing anonymous sources, Reuters reported on Thursday that Toyota plans to launch a redesigned Crown sedan this summer and will launch a new Crown SUV a year later. The SUV will reportedly have hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric options, and be exported to North America and China. The hybrid versions are expected to be available at the mid-2023 launch, and the electric version early the following year. According to the sources, export plans for the electric Crown SUV haven't been decided.
Production of both the sedan and SUV will reportedly take place at plants in Toyota City, in Japan's Aichi Prefecture.
At its peak in 1990, annual Crown sales were more than 200,000 units. Last year, Toyota sold just 21,000 units in Japan, which is the main market for the sedan. Adding a more popular SUV body style and new markets should help ensure the Crown nameplate sticks around for years to come.
It's possible the Crown SUV will be related to a new Lexus SUV to sit alongside the LS and LC in Lexus' flagship range, possibly wearing an LQ badge. The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept from 2018 is thought to preview the new Lexus SUV.
Note, both Toyota and Lexus plan to launch U.S.-built three-row SUVs in the near future. These will be built at a plant in Princeton, Indiana. The Toyota is expected to be called a Grand Highlander, and the Lexus a TX. Stay tuned.