One could say that the Toyota Crown is an icon in the country. It's among the first Japanese luxury sedans in the Philippines and was once a status symbol for the wealthy. It remains an aspirational car to this day, and for some, it's still the definitive Japanese luxury saloon.
About 20 years have passed since we last got Toyota's large sedan in the country. Since then, five generations have rolled out and it remains a popular car in its home market. That got us thinking though, why can't we have the Crown? According to Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), there are two reasons behind it.
The first reason is Lexus. According to Toyota, the Crown's role is already served locally by the luxury marque, and it's also about the same price as other Lexus sedans offered in the country. The comparable model to the Crown in the Philippines is the Lexus ES 350, and it retails for PhP 4,478,000. A Crown with a similar engine starts at JPY 7,393,000, which is approximately PhP 3,400,000. While it's about PHP 1,000,000 less than the Lexus, you have to factor in taxes, and the Crown could be the same price as the Lexus even if you factor in the JPEPA (Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement) tax break.
But even if Toyota Motor Philippines wants to bring in the Crown here, there's another factor that prevents them from doing that. It's all because of its steering wheel; its location to be exact. The current-generation Crown is not engineered for left-hand drive. If TMP brings it in here, Toyota Japan will have to re-engineer the whole car, which will not be cheap. That also means it will bump up the price significantly, and a left-hand drive Crown will be prohibitively expensive if sold here. The Crown isn't exactly a mass-market model outside of Japan, and it simply won't be worth redesigning it just to accommodate a few thousand units a month.
For some, it's sad news but the economics work against it. Yes, there is a left-hand drive Crown in China, but it's based on the previous-generation model. Even so, it still needs some modifications to suit the Philippine market. Again, those adjustments will drive up prices and make it just as, or even more, expensive than the Lexus ES 350.
With that, you could say the Lexus ES 350 is the spiritual successor of the Crown in the Philippines. Sure, it's not rear-wheel drive, but in terms of size and features, the ES 350 should satisfy the luxury sedan buyer.