New Crown Transports Toyota Into the Future – “Connected Day” Debut in Japan

By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan

Do you remember the Toyota Crown? Launched in Japan in 1955, the rugged small sedan (below) became the first Toyota model to go on sale in America three years later. Looking at the sales figures for 1958, just 288 Crowns, plus a single Land Cruiser, were sold in the U.S.

While a more modern Crown departed the U.S. lineup in the early 1970s, it went on to become one of Toyota’s longest-running nameplates in Japan, recently celebrating its 60th anniversary. Over the years, the Crown has been offered in a variety of styles, including sedans, coupes, wagons, and pickups, along with a choice of gas, diesel, and hybrid powerplants.

We witnessed a preview of the new 15th generation Crown when it was introduced as a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show last fall (above). Based on Toyota’s new TNGA architecture, the concept included high-tech features like a new DCM (Data Control Module), and remote vehicle diagnostics.

The new Crown, officially launched in Japan this week, looks remarkably similar to the concept car that we saw in Tokyo. And while the sharp new styling, luxury features, and safety technologies are important, the new Crown (and new Corolla Sport) has become the first generation of Toyota “Connected Cars” in Japan.

Watch the launch of the new Crown in this “Toyota Connected Day 2018” video from Japan. During the presentation, Toyota Motor Corp. President, Akio Toyoda, said, “Currently the automotive industry is faced with an era of profound transformation, the likes of which come only once every 100 years.” (video: Toyota)

Equipped with a standard DCM, Toyota says 24-7 vehicle connectivity with customers brings the relationship between cars and people to a new level. The Crown’s DCM links to a Controller Area Network (CAN), providing connected services to T-Connect subscribers (the first three years is free) through its proprietary Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), an information infrastructure developed by Toyota for Connected Cars.

Services include e-Care Driving Guidance with concierge service in which a remote operator can speak to the driver, e-Care Health Check Report, and HELPNET® and D-Call Net®, where an operator can alert fire or ambulance services depending on a customer’s response, or lack thereof, following airbag deployment. Other services include AI Voice Recognition, My Car Account using the popular LINE smartphone app, and Hybrid Navigation with real-time map data.

Of course, the new Crown also has been developed for the joy of driving. “I feel the new Crown is a car that will take your breath away in every single aspect including design, driving and connected technology,” said Akira Akiyama, chief engineer in charge of development.

Crown RS models are dressed with a sporty mesh front grille, LED sequential turn signals, side skirts, special 18-inch alloy wheels, quad exhaust pipes, and a rear spoiler. Riding on the new TNGA platform, Crown features a low center of gravity, front and rear multi-link suspension, optimized steering, and select aluminum suspension components.

Powertrain choices include a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force Engine Hybrid System with combined output of 166 kW (226 PS), 3.5-liter V6 Multi-Stage Hybrid System with combined output of 264 kW (359 PS), and 2.0-liter Direct-Injection gas turbo engine rated at 180 kW (245 PS).

The interior features a new dual display with a 7-inch screen positioned closer to the driver for ease of use, and an 8-inch display mounted farther back. The new Drive Mode Select feature allows drivers to choose their preferred combination of powertrain, chassis, and air conditioning system operation.

Crown G-Executive and G-Executive Four models are fitted with luxuries like wood trim, LED lighting, and a second-row air conditioning system. A “Japan Color Selection Package” allows customers to select from six exterior hues with a combo of three special interior colors.

Standard on all Crowns is the second-generation preventative safety package Toyota Safety Sense that includes a Pre-Collision System that detects pedestrians in the day and night, and cyclists in the day, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beam, Adaptive High Beam, and Road Sign Assist.

The new Crown is available at Toyota dealers across Japan, including Toyopet and Toyota dealers in the Tokyo area, with a monthly sales target of 4,500 units. Built at the Motomachi Plant, MSRPs range from ¥4,606,200 (about $41,600) for the rear-drive 2.0-liter turbo B with 8-speed Super ECT, to ¥6,906,600 (about $62,400) for the RS Advance 3.5-liter Multi-Stage Hybrid.

For more information on the Crown visit the Toyota Consumer Website in Japan.

News source, photos (as noted), and video courtesy Toyota Motor Corp. Features, specificaitons and prices for Japan market models are subject to change without notice. (Prices include consumption tax but do not include recycling fees. Prices differ in Hokkaido and Okinawa.)

Story © 2018 / car show photo © 2017