“Dude, that’s totally a wagon,” exclaimed a particularly astute observer as a 2025 Toyota Crown Signia sat in profile nearby.

Dude’s got a point. Toyota’s new hybrid “crossover” is long and low, with a minimal, inch-or-so ground clearance boost beyond the typical sedan norm. Apparently. Sure doesn’t look like it. The body is still on the tall side relative a wagon, but looking at the spec sheet reveals dimensions far closer in proportion to a Subaru Outback or Volvo V60 Cross Country than the similarly priced Lexus NX, or the vehicle the Crown Signia effectively replaces, the Toyota Venza. It doesn’t even have tinted rear windows.

Not that you’re going to hear much objection to a new wagon offering here at Autoblog, even if it needs the crossover tag to be more palatable to the masses. To be fair, though, the Crown Signia isn’t just a long-roof version of the Crown, Toyota’s attempt at reimagining the sedan. The Signia has that aforementioned ground clearance, is 4 inches taller in overall height and is 2 inches shorter in overall length. Passenger capacity dimensions favor the Crown “sedan” as well. The platform is shared (although basically every Toyota that isn’t a truck shares some variation of the TNGA platform), as is the interior design and standard hybrid powertrain.      

Then there’s the name. Besides sounding like a business hotel in Nagoya, take a look at the pictures above and note that “Signia” doesn’t appear anywhere on the car, with “CROWN” instead taking the lead. This is apparently at the behest of company Chairman Akio Toyoda, who wants to elevate the Crown sub-brand in prominence. Now’s probably a good time to explain that the Crown has long been Toyota’s Japanese market flagship; a grand, decidedly old-school sedan that typically served as a limousine.

Frankly, though, this Crown seems to have as much in common with the Queen Elizabeth TV show as it does a Tokyo limo. There’s just very little flagship about it. Yes, it’s only available in top-shelf XLE and Limited trim levels, both of which include leather seating as standard after potential customers balked at the $44,985 XLE initially having cloth seats. Beyond the equipment list, though, the design and materials are just as ho-hum as they are in the Crown sedan the U.S. gets. It’s certainly no nicer than the new 2025 Toyota Camry XLE, which we experienced on back-to-back days with the Crown Signia outside San Diego.

The powertrain is without question a step down, as it features Toyota’s fourth-generation hybrid system versus the new-and-greatly-improved fifth-generation system found in the Camry and Prius. The Signia’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder kicks in earlier, is louder when it does so, and the noise thereafter is the gravelly drone we have long come to expect that sounds more like a leaf blower than an automobile engine. That the gen 5 powertrain is so much more refined is the primary reason we’ve been so positive about the new Camry and Prius; that the Crown Signia has last-gen tech seems like a misstep for something that’s supposed to be a more refined, near-luxury sub-brand.

Overall system output stands at 240 horsepower, which isn’t a lot for a midsize crossover, but by wagon standards, it at least smokes a standard Outback and gets to 60 mph in a Toyota-estimated 7.1 seconds. Much like the similarly underpowered and hybrid-only Venza, however, the Crown Signia counters with exceptional fuel economy for the segment and otherwise. EPA estimates stand at 39 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined for every version, as all-wheel drive is standard. Also of use is the Crown Signia’s 2,700-pound max towing capacity, which bests the RAV4 Hybrid’s 1,750 pounds, NX 350 Hybrid’s 2,000 pounds and the Venza that isn’t rated to tow at all.

Our short test drive consisted solely of mountain road driving, which again, does the fourth-generation hybrid system no favors. The e-CVT’s yo-yoing of revs as you ease on and off the throttle gets old (gen 5 does a much better job of keeping revs up where they should be, especially when in Sport mode). It’s an even bigger bummer when you discover the handling isn’t so bad, with the electric motor powering the rear axle capable of skewing the overall front-to-rear power split to 20:80 in order to help push you around corners. It definitely feels more like a car than a RAV4 or another SUV-like crossover, but then, speaking of feel, the steering has none. Engaging Sport mode adds a welcome extra bit of effort at turn-in, but that’s it. In total, the new Camry is more enjoyable to drive, as are other crossovers in the Crown Signia’s elevated price range (the Mazda CX-50 comes to mind).

In terms of comfort, we didn’t drive on normal-enough roads to conclude anything beyond “the ride seems fine.” Similarly, Toyota says much was done to provide a quiet cabin, with abundant sound deadening materials throughout and front-side laminated glass combining with inherent noise-quelling elements of the TNGA platform. We’ll have to take their word for it until we drive the Crown Signia more, although on the subject of interior noise, it’s hard not to once again circle back to the gen-4 hybrid powertrain drone.

Returning inside, the front cabin has the same space-efficient vertical phone charger bin as the Crown Sedan, plus two USB-C ports and a gap between the two useful cupholders that lets you place an extra phone. Toyota’s 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard and benefits from the recent, game-changing update that keeps the system’s left-side menu icons permanently docked while using Apple CarPlay (though you’ll be click-click-clicking back and forth with Android Auto). A 12.3-inch instrument display with different layouts is also standard.

Other standard niceties for the $44,985 XLE include the aforementioned leather upholstery (no SofTex to be found), heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and power liftgate. The $49,385 Limited adds a fixed panoramic glass roof, ambient lighting, 11-speaker JBL sound system and Digital Key smartphone access features. It’s also eligible for the $1,865 Advance Technology package that packs on more driver assistance features beyond the already robust standard allotment that includes adaptive cruise control. 

In terms of space, the Signia may have nearly 2 fewer inches of rear legroom than the Crown sedan (and a bit less than the Venza, too), but it is more passenger friendly than the Lexus NX and Volvo V60. A 6-foot-3 passenger can comfortably sit behind a driver of equal height on a seat that’s placed comfortably high off the floor. There’s abundant headroom, too, which speaks to its taller, more crossover-like body than the typical wagon. Cargo volume – unaffected by the Nickel Metal Hydride battery sitting under the rear seat – is listed as 25.8 cubic feet for the XLE and 24.8 for the Limited (the difference is the panoramic roof), and although that’s about 10 cubes less than a RAV4, the notably long and wide space may be better at lugging luggage than that number suggests. Most of the RAV4’s advantage comes up high, which is less functional for carrying cargo.

The interior space is likely to be one of the main reasons a Toyota loyalist opts for a Crown Signia instead of a Lexus NX 350h hybrid, which is within two or three grand when comparably equipped. Two or three grand isn’t nothing, but the NX’s superior interior quality and the undeniable Lexus brand cachet certainly count for something – even if “Toyota Crown Signia” sure sounds fancy. By contrast, the Venza was priced between $35,000 and $45,000, and was more easily explained as a luxurious, less utilitarian alternative to the RAV4 Hybrid … or as a more budget-friendly alternative to the NX. The Crown Signia? Maybe, maybe, it can be a better-equipped alternative to similarly priced luxury-brand SUVs, larger mainstream-brand SUVs and even various all-electric offerings.

But, dude, what about wagons? Well, there aren’t any hybrid wagons anywhere near its price point, so score! Ultimately, though, maybe we’re getting too caught up in comparisons and trying to slot the Crown Signia into a particular silo. Whatever it is, it provides lots of space, gets great fuel economy, and has loads of standard equipment, though the price seems hefty. Call it a crossover, call it a wagon, just don’t call it a hotel in Nagoya.

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