Kurt Verlin
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Could the Toyota Crown Be Coming to the U.S.?

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2018 Toyota Crown driving down a city street
Photo: Toyota

The Toyota Crown was the very first Toyota vehicle to be exported to the United States, but after a 15-year run, the automaker stopped selling the famously luxurious car in North America. That was nearly 50 years ago, and after that half-century absence, the Crown may be coming back.

A few days ago, Toyota filed a trademark registration for the “Toyota Crown” name intended to “cover the category of automobiles and structural parts thereof.” It’s common practice for automakers to register trademarks to protect the rights of a name, so it’s no evidence of the Crown’s return. Nonetheless, it’s suggestive.

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The Toyota Crown is fairly unique in the Toyota world as the only nameplate that gets its own badge. When you buy a Crown-branded vehicle, the front grille doesn’t sport the usual Toyota emblem but rather its own unique, very vaguely crown-like emblem.

Toyota doesn’t shy from slapping the Crown brand onto other vehicles, which means that if it were to bring the Crown back to the United States, it wouldn’t necessarily have to do it with a brand new model. The recently revealed Crown Kluger, for instance, is destined for the Chinese market and is identical to the Toyota Highlander XSE sold in the United States with the exception of the digital gauge cluster — and the emblem, of course.

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Earlier this year, Toyota also trademarked the “Grand Highlander” name as a possible replacement for the Sequoia, which sounds like the kind of name that would be used in the American market where customers are all too concerned about size. It’s possible the Crown would be used in a similar way, turning the name into a sub-brand for more luxurious models, though it’s not clear what Lexus’s role would be in all of this.

In any case, branding exercises are not uncommon in the corporate world. If we see future U.S.-spec Toyota models come out with a Crown trim or something of the like, we won’t be surprised.