LOS ANGELES – When Toyota reintroduced the Crown model to the U.S. after decades of absence to replace the Avalon sedan, it was a big shift from a very conservative sedan to a sport-sedan hatchback that suggests CUV without committing to it.
For 2025, Toyota adds the Crown Signia, which not only fully commits but also embraces elements of wagon styling. Indeed, the production Signia holds closely to the Crown Estate Type Concept from 2022.
The Crown Signia’s styling is unique in the marketplace among CUVs, which should help it stand out as an example of form following function. A 5-passenger CUV with length – 79 in. (207 cm) behind the front seats when the second row is folded flat – there is probably little chance Toyota will ever try to cram a third-row seat into the Crown Signia since the automaker already has the Grand Highlander for that. The arrival of the Signia, though, does make us wonder if the similarly sized Venza will be long for the U.S. market.
The Signia, which goes on sale next year, comes exclusively with Toyota’s hybrid system, powered by a 2.5L 4-cyl. with two electric motor/generators producing 243 hp and with an expected fuel-economy rating of 36 mpg (6.5L/100 km) combined.
It is the first Toyota to come standard with the company’s Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive system, incorporating a rear electric motor to deliver extra traction. The Signia is able to tow 2,700 lbs. (1,224 kg).
At least at launch, the Signia will not be offered with the Hybrid Max powertrain available on the Platinum-trim Crown sedan.
The engine is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. The driving experience varies with multiple driving modes: normal, sport and eco. Sport mode sharpens throttle response, while the Eco mode optimizes fuel economy over performance as it draws from the engine and battery. Eco mode also allows for electric-only driving at low speeds.
The Electronic On-Demand AWD system employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels in different road/traction conditions, channeling up to 80% of the power and torque to the rear wheels. The system also improves cornering by reducing understeer.
Inside, the Signia delivers on its price point, which has not yet been released, but figures to be a bit above the Crown sedan, which starts at about $40,000. The inside is actually very similar to the Crown sedan.
Signia will arrive in two trims, XLE and Limited. XLE is well-equipped with 19-in. wheels, cloth and leatherette seats, 6-speaker audio system, digital rearview mirror, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Spend up for the Limited and you’ll get leather seats, a glass panoramic roof, 21-in. wheels, heated and ventilated seats, an 11-speaker JBL audio system and more.
The Signia, which goes on sale next summer, comes standard with dual 12.3-in. (31-cm) screens – the gauge cluster and the center touchscreen with Toyota’s latest Audio Multimedia system. Both the Crown sedan and Signia are wired for Over-the-Air updates. Available with a Drive Connect subscription after a trial period is Intelligent Assistant Cloud Navigation and Destination Assist, which allows voice commands to manage features ranging from navigation to available streaming services.
All Crown Signias come with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic warning, blindspot warning, automatic headlights and Proactive Driving Assist which, when switched on, applies light braking and steering at corners and when maintaining space between the vehicle and cyclists.
Both the Crown and Crown Signia are assembled in Japan.
Natural competitors to the Crown Signia include the Subaru Outback, Acura ZDX and Hyundai Santa Fe.