With the start of the new year of 2014, we can now legally import cars from 1989 and earlier into the United States. That opens the door for Japanese car enthusiasts to, for example, legally import the R32 GT-R for the first time. But this also reminds us of the age-old quandary: there are so many Japanese domestic market cars that are interesting and could find a home here if only they were available.
The Japanese domestic market Toyota Crown was imported to the United States from 1958 and continuing until 1973. The styling, however, needed a cultural translation and wasn’t successful. The current 14th generation Crown is considerably more advanced and shares engineering with the Lexus G series (including the 2.5 and 3.5 DOHC V-6 engines as well as a hybrid engine). Importing it could confuse the market with Lexus even though the Crown addresses a different and somewhat unique market. The styling is probably the easiest way to explain the difference. Here are the three models of the Crown that are current offered:
It’s clear that the front-end styling of the Crown family is probably not to the taste of Americans, although the rest of the car is state-of-the-art and handsome. But we’d also suggest that the overall styling of the current North American Toyota family is bland and odd in its own ways. A breath of styling fresh air would work wonders… and perhaps the Athlete model would be the way to do it. It’s distinctly sportier than the others, although perhaps the silver Crown could be made a bit less prominent.
Still not decided? Here’s the introduction video for the newest models, highlighting the styling from all sides:
And here’s Toyota’s latest Crown commercial video, titled “A Mission”, using a backdrop of a mystery to show some of the technology and handling prowess.
We think we see something distinctly sporting here, very different from the Lexus mission.