Toyota Innova is one name which has gained too much attention in the market. The MPV has risen through times to become one of the most loved in the country. Innova can be seen anywhere and everywhere on road and has been used by customers in different forms, which justifies the segment in which Innova operates. The Japanese giant launched the Innova in Indian market way back in 2005, replacing the hot iteration of that time – Qualis. It has been 8 years, since Innova was inducted in the Indian market, since then Toyota has done subtle changes to keep the car alive in the market but nothing major has been done, and still the car sells like hot cakes. Even though Innova is popular among the cab fleet owners citing its low cost of maintenance and reliability of the vehicle, Toyota Innova is just as popular as private cars too, which is often not the case for most of MPVs.
The latest update of Innova sees many cosmetic changes done to MPV – which is received well by some and also was critiqued for its new face. We got to spend some time with the newly designed MPV, which looks like coming straight from a salon with new sharp and highlighted front fascia.
The most striking part about the new Innova is the newly minted front grille, which looks more like a wide-opened Japanese robot. The new Innova has lost some of its elegance to get the sporty look through the new three spoke front grille, which are widely spaced and are separated from the headlamps. The headlamps are carried forward from the old Innova, old? Well no, Toyota is selling that Innova alongside the new Innova to give wider and cheaper choice to fleet owners, which is a smart move and will allow Toyota to maintain the volume it gains from the MPV. The fog lamps and the air-intake are redesigned extensively with chrome inserts on the fog lamps, trying to make the new look Innova - more fancy!
Everything else about the Innova is still the same from the outside, except for the cladding, which is now at an angle to add more sportiness to the car. A new sticker job and a rear spoiler on the MUV is added for the sake of sportiness, well, at least the thing does not look out of the place and really does the job well. For private owners, things like these would up the ante from the normal boring looking white Innovas with yellow number plates! From the rear, the new Innova looks even more distinct now, the newly formed tail section looks premium and better than the older Innova. With almost similar to previous update tail-lamps, Toyota has added a long chrome strip joining both the ends with reflectors under them, smart? Well, as long as it makes the Innova look better. The exterior change-log ends here, well, the changes are subtle but differentiates the new Innova from the older one distinctly. Toyota has played with chrome a lot in the new Innova, everything from the fog lamp housing to the door handle his dipped in chrome. Same is the case with the side moulding, which is now lower to the crease of the body! For closer details, Toyota has also equipped the Innova with chrome exhaust tip.
So far so good for the exteriors! Once you enter the car, you will see small wooden insert or subtle changes in the dashboard of the car. The Z variant, which spent time with us is the most loaded version and has a long list of equipment. Innova is space oriented car and the Unique Selling Point of the MPV is the space it offers. The light grey and beige interiors helps to make the cabin feel airy, bright and bigger. The lower variants carry a shade of brown instead of grey. The central dashboard remains mostly the same, and the console is titled very slightly towards the co-driver instead of passenger. Interiors are comfortable with lot of space, which is well managed and well segregated in number of cup holders and space under arm-rest. The Innova looks strongly built, and the quality is better than any other car in the segment like Xylo, Evalia or Tavera. The car is well-built and everything connected very well with each other and there are no visible spaces in the console. The height can be adjusted on the driver seat and steering column can be titled as per the requirement. The steering wheel is well-proportionate and is covered in leather, which feels nice even if you hold it for extended period. The steering has neatly laid buttons which can be used to take over the multimedia and Driver Information Display completely. The touch-sensitive screen can be given commands from the steering wheel directly, the volume buttons, the next-previous button, mode, phone answer/reject and MID can be controlled from the steering itself.
The instrument cluster is clutter free and is same like the one seen in Fortuner. The three dial cluster remains illuminated during the day too and the brightness can be controlled through a small knob. The MID, which is located above stereo console unit has many functions in it, changing the mode lets you to choose between Compass, outside temperature, average speed, instantaneous fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency, distance to empty and elapsed time from the start-up. The display also shows time, which remains there, no matter on what mode you are on. The center console has inserts of faux wood and chrome, which makes it look good but does not matches with the rest of the interior. The touch sensitive screen audio player has DVD stereo, FM with 12 channel memory. The sound quality is alright and will do for most of the owners who choose this car. The reverse camera is situated up on the rear spoiler and gives a good job of telling how close the things are. The USB, AUX and 12V charging socket gets the place just before the gear stick. Toyota has added multiple 12V sockets in the MPV, which are always welcomed by the passengers. The V and Z variants get the automatic climate control and the second and third row AC have different controls situated along with the vents on the roof.
Space has been managed rather well, with the third row seats can accommodate two adults and one kid comfortably and three adults squeezing. The second and front row seats have good arm-rest supports, while there are retractable cup-holders for the second row passengers. Toyota has also added bottle holders on the last row, pockets on either side of the vehicle can hold up to three bottles. The seats can be folded individually accord to the need and the space can gulp a lot of luggage.
The new look Innova draws power from two types of engines. One is the 2.5 liter diesel with maximum power of 101 Bhp which maxes out at 3600 rpm with 200 Nm of maximum torque, which is widely spread from 1200-3600 rpm, Toyota adds an intercooler to the BSIV version of the car unlike the BSIII variant, which has an identical torque output. The petrol powered Innova is not famous, hence comes with a huge waiting period, although Toyota offers a 2.0 L engine with an maximum output of 130 Bhp. For obvious reasons, the petrol siblings of the Innova are not as famous and draw lower resale value than the diesel version.
The engine is one of the most reliable and has DOHC common-rail technology, offering fantastic drivability, be it in the city or the highways. The turbo can be felt if noticed minutely, else the MPV is sorted out in its own ways. The best part about driving the Innova is its gearbox, makes for an excellent tool for commuting around the city. The car never asks for more gas even when starting from the 2nd gear and the 3rd gear has been made in a way that it caters a wide range of speed without the knocking the engine out. Even though the gears feel short when tapping the gas paddle like an air pump, but everything else seems nice. There is no dead paddle, but huge paddles and free space around the paddles makes space for your feet easily. The gear stick is placed ergonomically with the arm-rest. With leather cover tip, the gear shifter feels nice to hold to, and there are very less shakes, apart from the start, which can shake a bit of you if the gear stick is engaged and your hand is resting on the stick.
The car is well geared, and behaves very well with good amount of cushion on the shock-absorbers. The wide ratio steering wheel does not feels heavy, but has to be worked on quite a lot during tight corners but the steering feels just right during the cruising highway speeds. Toyota is yet to offer an automatic transmission with the Innova, but they would not do it because an automatic Innova would take away a major chunk of customers from the Forturer AT.
On the safety department, Toyota offers ABS and two air-bags for the driver and co-driver, but for a car which always carries more passengers than driver and co-driver could have offered curtain airbags for the safety of rear passenger, well, that would have jacked up the prices though.
Toyota has been raking number with the Innova, which is rare for a car that has reached so late in its life. The good part of the Innova would be lower cost of ownership but fleet owners might face some trouble as the service period is just 5,000 km apart for the diesel model. The prices also have been swelled, the starting price is from 12.59 lakh and the maximum that you pay for it is 15.06 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi.)
We do expect Toyota bring an all new model of the Innova, but that would not happen any time soon as the company is currently enjoying the status of Innova. Well, a very nice keep to be on the passenger seat and relax and is equally well when you get on the pilot’s seat, Toyota has surely made Innova an all-rounder.