The Toyota Crown is one of Japan’s longest running sedans still in production that has recently been released in its fourteenth generation. Since its first release into the Japanese market in 1955, the Crown has served as a steady performer in the Toyota line-up for almost 60 years. The legacy of this vehicle is only outmatched by its consistency in improvement through each iteration as it evolved to become the impressive vehicle it is today. As a testament to the Toyota brand’s commitment to quality and performance, variations of the Crown have been the choice vehicle for police cruisers and taxis throughout the country for decades.
Although mainly produced and sold in Japan, the vehicle has had its fair share of history overseas in European, US, and Asian markets. Currently, the latest models are only offered in Southeast Asia with the most recent generation launched on Christmas of 2012. In the case of the Crown, the road to defining the perfect mix of luxury, performance, and comfort has been a long and challenging effort for Toyota. As the newest model hopes to continue to take on its German performance competitors, it is interesting to see the history of the Toyota Crown and how far the vehicle has come since its first model.
RS Model-S30 Model 1st Generation (1955 – 1962)
The first generation Crown set the base for the vehicle as performer when it unexpectedly sold well in both private and commercial markets in Japan. The vehicle’s performance and suspension made it a choice car for taxi service, which it still holds claim to today in the modern version for the Japanese market. The original design featured unique suicide-style rear doors reminiscent of the original Toyota AA, as well as a split front windshield; both features which eventually disappeared in later refreshed versions. Unfortunately, the first Crown did not fair well in the United States and was only sold between 1957 and 1960. This was mostly due to a less than impressive marketing stunt of travelling across the country, and barely crossing the finishline. In 2000, Toyota released a limited run of a modern rebuilt RS Crown called the Origin (which sold for ¥7,000,000)
S40 Model 2nd Generation (1962 – 1967)
The second generation Crown was created to be everything the first was not. Focusing on the bigger the better, the vehicle saw an increased set of performance and styling attributes. With many queues taken from American cars such as the Ford Falcon, the newer version hoped to gain a better hold in the foreign market. As a Toyota first, the second generation was also build in Australia using CKD (Complete Knockdown) Kits utilizing a large portion of domestic parts. This new method of getting its vehicles overseas proved to be effective and established the company’s long-lasting relationship with Australia. In 1964, the Crown Eight was introduced as the top of the line full-sized Crown with Japan’s first mass-production V8 engine.
S50 Model 3rd Generation (1967 – 1971)
The third generation introduced the Super Deluxe Crown that featured the more robust 2M engine as well as extras such as, power windows, air-conditioning, and a luxury fabric interior with embossed crown logos. This generation of Crown also added to the previous line-up of sedan, pick-up, and wagon versions with the first coupe hardtop. The S50 marked then last Crown-pickup variant while establishing the brand as Toyota’s top luxury car offering.
S60 & S70 Models 4th Generation (1971 – 1974)
The fourth generation came with further engine improvements as well as a radically re-designed exterior. Two new top-of-the-line trims were introduced beginning with the Super Saloon and followed by the Royal Saloon. Both of the new finishing levels continued to push the idea of a luxury vehicle, a point that Toyota learned early as crucial to the prolonged success of the brand. This model also began the Crown’s association with unique high-end features as it included a remote trunk opener within the key ignition, as well as a button on the floorboard to activate the radio’s seek function. The fourth generation Crown was the first to have the Toyota name brand as all previous versions were labeled as Toyopets.
S80 & S100 Models 5th Generation (1974 – 1979)
The fifth generation Crown, was perhaps the most dynamic yet with the offering of a 2.2 diesel in later models. The 2M and 4M engines were also fitted with fuel-injection options and four-wheel disc brakes to further differentiate the Crown’s balance of power and performance. The changes in body style saw the vehicle increase in length and lose its official hardtop status with the inclusion of a B-pillar.
S110 Model 6th Generation (1979 – 1983)
The brand had begun to settle into itself by the sixth generation and find its place in the Toyota line-up. Consistently increasing the power package, the S110 was available in a 2.8L engine and improved on what would be the Crown’s last four cylinder engine with a turbo package. Although this was the last of the hardtop models, new options included a glass roof, two-tone paint, cruise control, and a rear passenger mini fridge. By the last year of the generation, the vehicle offered 10 different engine variations including a turbo diesel.
S120 Model 7th Generation (1983 – 1987)
Although the seventh generation still offered a variety of engine choices, the body styles were limited to the sedan, 4-door hardtop, and station wagon. Not including the entry level model, the S120 was the first of the Crowns to offer 4-wheel independent suspension. Additionally, a special 190hp 3.0L was available in the Japanese market for the Royal Saloon which soon became a popular engine-swap for the Toyota Supra of the same period.
S130 Model 8th Generation (1987 – 1997)
The eighth generation model saw its bodywork and design polished into a form that would define its future variants. The diesel engine options were geared toward Asian markets which performed as the most common vehicles used as taxis in Hong Kong and Singapore. In Indonesian, the rather unique large-sized Super Saloon was offered in a 5-speed manual transmission.
S140 Model 9th Generation (1991 – 1995)
The ninth generation saw the Crown line-up slimmed down into one sedan hardtop with four engines ranging from 2.0 – 4.0L. This year also saw the Crown Royal Saloon G evolve into the Crown Majesta which was offered as full-sized premium luxury vehicle in 1991. The Majesta variant was produced with a V8 engine and came packed with pricey electronic options that were comparable options to its German counterparts. Although the Crown and the Crown Majesta have a shared history, they are marketed as completely separate vehicles with unique exterior and interior styling.
S150 Model 10th Generation (1995 – 1999)
As the most definitive version of the Crown, S150 tenth generation model is still produced with the same styling and performance values as the original. Although it was not widely exported, the few that made it out of Japan stayed in Southeast Asia. The S150 was offered in a sedan and hardtop body with 2.0-3.0L engines including a diesel version. The tenth generation was also the first to use a non-separated chassis construction and come in a 4WD option. The Crown Comfort iteration of this generation continues to serve as the most common vehicle used as a taxi and instructional vehicle in Japan. With a more stripped down interior maximizing interior space, as well as an automated rear door, they can be commonly seen in any major city in Japan.
S170 Model 11th Generation (1999 – 2003)
The eleventh generation Crown began to shift its focus to its interior space and styling. Through a shortened front end, the vehicle was able to gain more space in the cabin and trunk adding to its comfort and ride quality. Although the hardtop was given the axe, the Crown Estate wagon was introduced as the first new wagon style in 3 generations. Two new engine options were also added on including a 2.5L Turbo for the Crown Athlete and a 3.0L mild hybrid featured in the Royal trim.
S180 Model 12th Generation (2003 to 2008)
The twelfth generation was an exciting refresh to the Crown family that was designed based on the Zero Crown concept car. The new Crown series dropped the older 4-cylinder engines in favor of more efficient and more powerful 6-cylinder options as the only choice available. Toyota’s “G-Book” integrated navigation that was previously released in the experimental WiLL series [ link ] , was now at home in the new sedan. These upgrades also included a larger cabin that beat-out any of the German competitors in its class.
S200 Model 13th Generation (2008 to 2012)
The thirteenth generation S200 finally set the Crown as a leader in luxury styling, performance, and comfort by being widely recognized as more luxurious than its Lexus equivalent. Although the Crown may have stolen some of the spotlight of its luxury class sibling, it did so in style with exclusive features such as 3-D navigation guidance. Not only was this a breakthrough in turn-by-turn directions, the Crown set a new world standard with its integration of map data and vehicle performance computation that adjusted to car’s suspension and engine power output depending on its location. To further set the Crown apart, Toyota also released a TRD version of the vehicle that boasted a 0 to 100/kph speed of 4.4sec with the help of a V8 4.6 twin turbo engine putting out 555hp to an 4WD transmission. These numbers made it the largest and fastest model to date.
S210 Model 14th Generation (2012 to present)
In December 2012, Toyota debuted the fourteen generation of the Crown under its “Re-born” branding and did so with a jaw-dropping exterior in hot pink. Although many enthusiast understandably questioned the paint job, the goal of the new model was to give a new face to a relatively conservative vehicle with a revitalized, aggressive design language. Borrowing a few queues from its Lexus sibling’s “spindle” design, the new Crown manages to keep just enough of its old self to be recognizable, while taking on its new attitude in stride. Although the pink paint job does not seem to be a standard option just yet, the base powerplant of the vehicle is set to be a V6 engine with a hybrid option.