2018 Toyota Century: Meet Japan's new king of old school luxury

Practically aristocracy in Toyota's home market, this new-generation Century will be shown at this month's Tokyo Motor Show with hybrid power.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read

You probably don't know this, but you're looking at the latest scion of royalty here. This is the 2018 Toyota Century, and it's just the third generation of an automotive icon that has transported Japan's rich, famous -- and infamous -- since 1967. 

Set to be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, this latest Century limousine may have a certain neoclassical flair, but it's technologically up to date underneath. The new Century -- seen here in its trademark black paint --  is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 hybrid powertrain, making this the first time electrification has been featured in this model. 

Centuries have long been known for being quiet cars, and this new hybrid setup should help deliver what Toyota refers to as "overwhelming serenity," even if it loses the previous generation's trademark V12 engine. Carrying a 2UR-FSE designation, the new car's 32-valve V8 seems to be a relative of the one we've seen in the outgoing Lexus LS600h.

2018 Toyota Century offers classic Japanese luxury with a hybrid twist

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This being a car that's more about being driven than actual driving for one's self, the back seat is suitably opulent in both dimension and execution. It features wool upholstery, power articulating and massaging rear seats, and even an integrated leg rest. Wool may seem like an unusual choice for an automotive interior to western tastes, but it's a traditional luxury touch in Japan. Naturally, leather is optional for those with different sensibilities. 

An LCD panel located in the rear armrest permits operation of audio and HVAC, as well as allowing for remote articulation of all seats.

Modern advanced driver assist safety features like precollision auto brake, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also part of the new Century experience, as are LED headlamps.

2018 Toyota Crown
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2018 Toyota Crown

That's wool upholstery and side curtains, friends.


At 200 inches long, the Century is a big car -- roughly half a foot shorter than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Care has been taken to actually make the rear of the car more upright for better interior room. The rear pillar is raked less steeply than before, and combined with a longer wheelbase and lower sills, the new generation should be both easier to get in and out of, and more comfortable.

As is appropriate for something wearing a epochal name and conservative styling, the new Century is likely to be a very long-lived model. Its predecessor bowed out of production in February after a nearly 20-year run.