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[Behind the wheel] Toyota Crown Hybrid sets standard for hybrid carsBy Byun Hye-jin
Published : June 11, 2023 - 15:48
With the yearslong boycotting of Japan-made products in Korea showing signs of abating, Japanese auto giant Toyota is seeking to turn the tables here with the Crown Hybrid crossover utility vehicle, which shows off its latest technological advancements in combining a combustion engine and electric motor.
The Crown was Toyota’s first mass-produced car model, with the longest history of 69 years and its bestselling premium sedan at home. But in Korea, the car has long been absent after it was briefly introduced for just one year in 1971.
With high hopes of securing its footing in Korea, the 16th-generation Crown Hybrid made its debut here to boast the best qualities of a sedan’s smooth ride along with an SUV's power. According to Toyota Korea CEO Konyama Manabu, more than 600 pre-orders have already been made in a month before the car's official launch on June 5.
A test drive was conducted last week in Gangwon Province, a round-trip course of some 152 kilometers. The Korea Herald reporter drove two Crown Hybrid models – the 2.4-liter dual boost hybrid and 2.5-liter hybrid.
The most noticeable feature of the premium model, the Crown 2.4-liter Dual Boost Hybrid, was the relaxing and high-powered ride it offered.
Of the six driving modes – custom, sport s+, sport s, normal, comfort and eco-comfort mode -- comfort offered stable and smooth driving. Driving on sport s+, on the other hand, was like driving a high-performance sports car. When cornering the car above 100 kilometers per hour, there was little body roll. Even on bumpy roads, it was hardly shaky.
A Toyota Korea official touted the car model’s high-performance E-Four Advanced motor system, which automatically analyzes the road’s condition and transfers power to the rear-wheel drive for effortless acceleration.
On the other hand, the Crown 2.5-liter Hybrid showed moderate driving performance, as befitting a car for city commuters. Unlike the 2.4-liter model, which produced little noise in all the driving modes, the car’s engine sound was loud in every mode – normal, sports and comfort. But in terms of fuel economy on a 76-kilometer route, it recorded 18 kilometers per liter, better than the premium model’s 12.7 kilometers per liter.
The two car models feature the same exterior design, with a hammerhead concept, offering a sporty vibe. The 21-inch-wheelbase and a lift-up style give a hint of an SUV. The cars’ rear part also adopted a futuristic design such as a seamless horizon lamp, which share a similar look to Hyundai Motor Group’s recent car lineups.
Except for the head-up display, both cars embrace analog controls including physical buttons on the gear box, steering wheel and other control panels.
The 2.4-liter dual boost model and 2.5-liter model are priced at 64.8 million won ($50,000) and 56.7 million won, respectively, slightly pricier than its rival Hyundai’s The All-New Grandeur Hybrid that was launched in December last year.
A Toyota Korea official said it aims to focus on promoting the cheaper 2.5-liter model targeting customers in their 40s and 50s.
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