The Mitsubishi Eclipse and Ford Mustang are not the only fabled names to catch the SUV bug as Toyota's long-running "Crown" is also getting the sport utility vehicle treatment. We originally caught wind of a potential Crown-based SUV in November 2020 when a Japanese magazine reported about the controversial move, stating it would be based on the North American market Highlander.
Fast forward to April 2021, fully revealing images have been published in China by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Each and every new car sold in the People's Republic has to go through MIIT's homologation process, and images are published on the website whenever that happens. Known locally as the Crown Kluger, the new SUV does indeed look like the Highlander.
Gallery: 2022 Toyota Crown Kugler (CN) at MIIT
The vehicle hasn't been officially announced by Toyota in China, but it could debut later this month at Auto Shanghai. Aside from sharing images of the Crown Kluger, the MIIT site also includes quite a few technical specifications. For example, we know the large SUV is 5,015 millimetres (197.4 inches) long, 1,930 mm (76 in) wide, and 1,750 mm (68.9 in) tall. That makes it a tad longer and taller than the US-spec Highlander while having the exact same width. Measuring 2,850 mm (112.2 in), the wheelbase is identical to its North American counterpart.
The Crown badge at the front confirms it's not your typical Highlander even though the exterior styling has been largely carried over. Several specifications have been homologated by MIIT, all of them with a hybrid powertrain and a curb weight of just under 2,000 kilograms (4,409 pounds). The SUVs ride on 18-inch alloy wheels and share a hybrid 2.5-litre engine with 189 bhp.
While a Toyota Crown SUV does come as a bit of a shock, let's keep in mind there once was a Crown pickup truck (1962-1971) and other body styles beyond the traditional saloon, including a coupe and an estate. Perhaps the SUV treatment was inevitable given current market trends, although we’re fairly certain some will see this decision as being blasphemous.
An official reveal of the Toyota Crown Kluger is likely imminent, and if an Auto Shanghai debut is planned, we'll see the SUV on 19 April during the show's first press day.