How to make a good car even better? Well, that’s the question engineers and designers at Toyota would have been answering when they started work on the new Innova. The original Innova was launched way back in 2005 and has a huge fan base all across the length and breadth of the country. Most owners swear by its reliability, while passengers swear that it’s the most comfortable car they’ve ever been inside of. So, Toyota had its work cut out in developing the new one. The company has completely changed the looks of the car and made it look bigger, more upmarket and desirable than before.
If you put the new car with the old one side by side, you will realise the sea of changes. The Innova has the typical MPV shape, but the new styling is very dramatic. The talking point is the huge grille with black slats in its lower section and two chrome bars at the top that look aggressive and stand out. Large rectangular shaped swept-back headlamps that house LED running lights and projector elements in them are standard on the top version. The flared wheel arches along with the 17-inch wheels give this MPV a mean and purposeful stance and helps make it look very muscular as well.
The first thing you will notice as soon as you enter the cabin is that the cabin now resembles a luxury saloon more than an MPV. In fact this cabin resembles the bigger and plusher Camry now. The new Innova will simply wow you. The front seats are wide and very well-shaped to offer good support all across. Most buyers buy this car to be chauffeur-driven in. Toyota knows this too well. The second row’s captain chairs are better than before, offering even better levels of support as well as cushioning. Quality of materials has gone up as well. The car also gets AC vents in all three rows and also has large windows to give it an airy feel. Overall, an excellent job done by Toyota. There is generous use of leather from the company as well and you get plenty of useful features as well including a 7-inch touchscreen. You also get traction control, cruise control, seven airbags in the top version, automatic AC, among other things.
The last row of seats offer decent space as well and there are plenty of cubby places to keep your odds and ends.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The old 2.5-litre engine has been replaced by two options. Innova Crysta comes with two entirely new diesel engines, a 2.4-litre, 150bhp with a five-speed manual gearbox, and a 2.8-litre 174bhp with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Engine refinement has been improved in a big way. The engine only displays clatter when cold. Once it picks up heat, the NVH improves considerably.
In terms of outright performance the car feels brisker than before and that means that overtaking on the highway is better. It’s also got three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Power. Eco is best for when you’re in town and want to stretch every last litre of diesel, while Power yields the quickest responses to accelerator inputs. But Normal mode is the best for everyday driving, delivering a good mix of power and efficiency.
Also, the new car has better spread gear ratios which means that when you are cruising on the highway the cabin is a relaxed place to be in.
Ride and handling
The Innova has always been known to offer a solid ride and it’s no different on the new one. This car manages to annihilate most bumps and potholes without any fuss at all.
The suspension is tuned a little on the soft side and absorbs all sorts of road irregularities well. Highway manners are absolutely rock solid. Crysta stays flat and composed, keeping cabin occupants comfortable throughout. The steering offers good amounts of feedback as well, considering it is an MPV.
Yes, the new car is a lot more expensive than the outgoing one but good things come at a price. The new Crysta is easily the most luxurious people-mover on offer at this price point making it the last word on MPVs.
Images by Mohd. Nasir