Paint it pink: New Toyota Crown color causes a stir in Japan

2013 Toyota Crown pinkThe Toyota Crown is like a Japanese Lincoln Town Car: a big, conservative sedan meant for shuttling businessmen between the airport and the board room. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is pushing his company to build exciting cars, but that seems like an impossible task when it comes to the Crown. Unless it is painted pink.

No one was expecting the pink hue when the 2013 Crown was unveiled to the media in Japan last week. The retina-searing paint gets plenty attention on it own, but seeing it on a car that looks like a cross between a Lexus LS and the previous generation Toyota Avalon inspires fears that the universe is about to break.

Toyoda said the color choice was in keeping with the mission to make Toyota’s cars more exciting. He said the pink paint was meant to change the Crown’s conservative image, and attract more female buyers.

Pink may not be an option when the production Crown hits Japanese showrooms this year, but Toyoda is personally pushing for it.

Along with the new color, Toyoda said drivability and performance were emphasized during the Crown’s redesign. The mesh grille on the “Athlete Series” Crown is also a major statement considering what the previous 13 generations looked like, and is a bit odd looking in any context.

Launched in 1955, the Crown is a big, luxurious sedan with no sporty pretensions. Like the now-discontinued Town Car, it predates the notion that luxury cars should drive like sports cars or have fashionable or overly-expressive styling.

The Crown is also a popular choice for police cars and taxis in Japan. A Crown Comfort, based on the 10th generation model from 1995, is still sold as a fleet vehicle.

The newly redesigned Crown Royal Series (did Toyota actually attempt a pun?) comes with a 2.5-liter V6, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Athlete Series comes with a 3.5-liter V6, an eight-speed automatic, and is only available with rear-wheel drive.

A hybrid with a 2.5-liter inline-four and nickel metal-hydride battery. Toyota says the Crown hybrid produces 220 horsepower, and matches the performance of a 3.0-liter V6.

The first generation Crown was one of the first Japanese cars sold in the United States, but the 2013 model and its pink paint will not make the trip across the Pacific.

From the redesigned Avalon to the Scion FR-S, Toyota has been trying hard to get rid of its stodgy image. The pink Crown is most unusual attempt so far, which makes us wonder what Toyota will try next.

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