Since 1955, almost like clockwork, every four years or so Toyota has introduced a new Crown model. The current S220 version is the fifteenth generation of that line – with a new model due in 2022. Paul’s recent Crown vintage ad post made me remember a snippet of news I recently saw on several Japanese auto enthusiast websites – evidently rumors are filtering out of Toyota City that the company is considering replacing the Crown sedan with a similarly-named SUV model.
That would certainly be a watershed moment – the Crown is one of Toyota’s longest-serving car nameplates and with the exception of the limited production Century and pre-Lexus Celsior, has always sat at the top of the company’s sedan lineup. For over sixty years Japan’s hard-working salarymen have dreamed of having a Crown in their driveway…a symbol that they’ve “made it”.
Japanese consumers still like their sedans, but as with trends elsewhere, have expressed an increased preference for CUVs/SUVs/MPVs over the past decade. You may have seen the company recently launched the Corolla Cross here in Asia that slots between the RAV4 and the C-HR, and will be coming to North America as a 2022 model.
Somewhat fueling these rumors was the introduction of the Highlander-based “Crown Kluger” for the Chinese market in April. But that just may be Toyota and their local partner opting to leverage a known name that has brand-cache with Chinese consumers.
My own take is that these rumors are likely false. Lexus already has the luxury SUV market fairly well covered for the company and the Crown sedan is an icon here in Asia; from taxi cabs to executive shuttle. But on the other hand, ten years ago I would have bet money that Lincoln would never be a SUV-only brand…