Toyota Crown – A cut above the rest.
Family wagons have traditionally been a beast of compromise. Whether its performance, comfort & luxury, styling, or just simply interior space, it seems as if something always has to give. Thankfully, that's not the case with the JZS171 series Toyota Crown Estate Athlete V. When I first drove this vehicle home from compliance I knew I had made the correct decision to import one into Australia. You see, these beasts only became eligible for importation under the SEVS scheme in 2014 and, to date, there are only 50 or so in the country. So far, reception has been positive.
The Athlete V comes standard with Toyota's iconic 2.5L twin cam inline 6 cylinder turbocharged engine: the 1JZGTE, the final generation to be exact – with VVTi. Boasting 210KW & 379Nm of torque there is plenty of power to motivate the 1680kg of luxury girth at any point in the RPM range. The 4 speed automatic transmission is the only option, however, there is a manual mode with steering wheel controls which come alive when traveling along winding country roads. The ride is super plush, which is great for interior comfort, but there is some body roll evident during spirited cornering.
Speaking of interior comfort, the Crown possesses dual zone climate control, 8 way electric driver's seat, electric reclining rear seats, and of course all of the usual power options. This particular example also has the optional factory body kit & spoiler, privacy glass, and sunroof, the final of which is a hit with the kids. The stereo is outstanding even compared to brand new vehicles 15 years younger: 6 speakers plus an external amplifier results in a premium audio experience. There are 5 well sized storage compartments in the passenger area while the cargo area completely conceals the spare full sized wheel and tools along with space for a whole lot more in their adjacent compartments - all underneath the false floor where the groceries are inevitably dumped. The cargo area also has a privacy blind as well as a safety net that extends from the top of the rear seats, either folded or erect, to the ceiling in order to protect the occupants from flying payload during emergency braking. All in all, the interior is comfortable and well thought out. The JZS171 comes standard with 2 airbags as standard as well as traction control, electronic stability control, and even snow/tow settings for the driveline. Being an import model there are no ANCAP ratings for this vehicle.
After close to 20,000km of ownership the Crown has once again confirmed Toyota's legendary reliability, the vehicle has only required maintenance items that are to be expected of a vehicle approaching 100,000km. Most of the vehicle's components will be available through your local Toyota dealership but can be imported directly from Japanese parts suppliers yourself, usually at a considerable cost saving.
The engine and transmission combination won't win the hearts of environmentalists, the vehicle has demonstrated a thirsty 11.75L/100km on extra urban driving and a considerably worse 14.76L/100km in urban driving, however, the demographic that purchase these models in both markets, Japanese Yakuza thugs looking to dump a body or Aussie motoring enthusiasts who now have a family, wont bat an eye lid at this negative considering the power available on tap.
The exterior styling is well above its Japanese competitors, and more on par with luxury European vehicles. The lines are understated yet bold and accentuated by factory 16 inch wheels which complete the appearance nicely.
Compared to both its native rivals, the Mitsubishi Legnum & Nissan Stagea, as well as locally available vehicles from the era, the Crown fairs better overall: performance safety or comfort aren't sacrificed at all to accentuate each other.
So, if you're looking for a family wagon that inspires instead of bores, the JZS171 might just be the car for you. I thoroughly recommend the experience...