This MPV is one of the most recognised and respected in India and for a good reason. Since its launch in 2005 the Toyota Innova has been the best-selling premium MPV in our market and this is despite its price going up by a whopping Rs 6 lakh in its lifespan of 11 years. So what qualities did this Toyota possess, that despite being overtly expensive and being more than decade old, tight-fisted Indians were still flocking the Toyota showrooms? The answer is simple – peace of mind ownership. There are still lakhs of old Innova’s running on our roads with lakhs of kilometres on the odo and still feeling indestructible. This is testament to the thorough reliability and engineering know-how of Toyota for which the buyers are ready to shell out the extra moolah for. Now Toyota is about to launch the next generation of the MPV and after driving the new Innova Crysta one thing is clear, they are going more upmarket with this one, with a more sculpted styling and a completely redesigned interior which boasts of segment first features.
When you set eyes on the new Innova Crysta it’s obvious that Toyota wanted to take its MPV to a more luxurious and desirable place. And it shows in its design. The exterior is dominated by the two-slat hexagonal grille that runs vertically down the bumper. Toyota says this was done to make the car look wider. The grille is flanked by nice looking sweptback double barrel projector-halogen headlamps with DRLs. And that’s followed by the angled fog lamps lower down. What completes the striking fascia is the sharp lines with which the bonnet connects to this dramatic front end.
Move on to the sides and you are greeted by the earlier Innova’s characteristic MPV boxy cues. Toyota has tried to mask this look by smartly opting to use a sloping angular design for the third row window. Also, while the overall profile of the rear remains the same, the tail lamps are new and extend under the window. Engineers have incorporated fins on to the edges of the tail lamps and door mirror plates to aide streamlining. That said, the body lines from the wheel arches and the belt line meet at the rear bumper which sleekly surround the boot opening. This design imparts an unmistakeable premium look to the Crysta.
If you thought the exteriors are completely different, wait until you step inside! The Innova has transformed from being an economy class cabin, to a business class lounge. Toyota has used materials from the top-shelf, and it shows. Everything you touch, feel and turn is built to last. The only place where we found iffy quality, was the lower half of the dashboard.Just like the old Innova, one can ‘walk’ inside the cabin. Once you do, the first thing to grab your attention is the futuristic dashboard. It is tilted towards the driver ever so slightly and has a bucket load of cuts, creases and curves that make it look super cool.The centre console is dominated by the touchscreen audio unit, that doubles up as the screen for the navigation and the reverse camera. Controls for the automatic climate control are positioned right below it. The Innova scores really high on practicality. There are plenty of cubby holes strewn around the front half of the cabin that one can use to store their knick-knacks.
The meaty leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good to hold. It houses buttons for the audio, calls and the MID. Speaking of which, the instrument cluster houses the tachometer and the speedometer with the MID sandwiched in between. It reads out the fuel consumption, cruising range, average speed, and even has a compass.The front seats score high on comfort, with cushioning and support being amongst the best we’ve seen in this segment. The drivers seat can be adjusted electrically and has a healthy range in terms of reach and height. However, since the target customer will be lounging in the rear seat, let’s see how that fares.The rear bench has been redesigned by Toyota keeping in mind long distance travels that Innovas are usually subjected to. The seats now accommodate larger frames better and cushioning is better as well.
We have to admit that the Japanese automaker has properly upped the ante here as well. Rear seat occupants get their own armrest and automatic climate control. Moreover, there are drop-down foldable trays attached to the front seats that can be used to place laptops or refreshments. And lest we forget, there’s lounge lighting on offer as well!The third row of seats is best left to kids. One tends to sit in a ‘knee up’ position, that can get uncomfortable over long journeys. That said, thanks to the sheer width of the car, accommodating three people here too, isn’t a big task.
The new generation Innova gets new diesel engines which will replace the existing KD family of engines which powers the current generation models.
The new Innova Crysta is launched in the market with two diesel engine options.The smaller 2.4 Litre unit is capable of producing about 150 Ps of peak power and 343 Nm of torque, this engine is paired to a five speed manual transmission. The other engine on offer is the bigger 2.8 Litre unit which produces about 174 Ps of peak power and 360 Nm of torque, this engine is paired to a new six speed Automatic transmission with sequential gearshifts. This engine actually also gets two different driving modes including economy and power modes.
The petrol variant of the Innova Crysta is available with a single powertrain option which includes the 2.7 litre Dual VVT-I unit, this engine is capable of producing about 166 Hp of peak power at 5200 rpm and 245 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. The engine is paired to 5 speed manual as well as 6 speed automatic transmission. The petrol powered Innova Crysta returns an ARAI certified fuel economy of 10.83 kmpl for the automatic transmission and 9.89 kmpl for the manual transmission.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The Toyota Innova has grown in size and gets a new frame but is also heavier now. In the early days of the Innova, people worried about the dimensions of the car as it was called too big for the city. The new one is even bigger and thus less maneuverable. Still underpinned by a body-on-frame platform with the steering still being a hydraulic unit, the Innova feels heavier to drive than before as the steering is on the heavier side and requires effort at low speeds, taking u-turns can be taxing. It does weigh up decently at high speeds but there is still a lot of slack in the straight-ahead position.
There is very good stability as you cross triple digit speeds, the Toyota Innova Crysta holding its line well on our not so perfect roads. The car also gets what Toyota likes to call ‘aero stabilising fins’. Without doubt, the biggest improvement has come to the ride quality of the vehicle. The work on the suspension is immediately apparent as this MPV rides beautifully even on bad roads. Bumps are absorbed very well and that’s inspite of the firmness at low speeds. Vertical movements are very well controlled and as you up the speed, the flatter ride only becomes better. There is quite a lot of body roll though but the Innova handles quite well for its weight and size. The brakes have good stopping power.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
The braking system of the Innova Crysta has front disc and rear drum brakes with anti-lock braking system as a standard in all variants. The Innova Crysta models have three airbags, one for the driver, one for the co-passenger and the third one for the knee of the driver. The top-end variant ZX has a front side and curtain airbags as additional safety features for the occupants
The Innova Crysta has gone on sale at a price range of Rs 13.84-20.78 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai). Yes, that puts it out of the realm of conventional MPVs from Maruti, Honda, Chevrolet, Mahindra and Renault and almost into the territory of seven-seat SUVs and even executive sedans. When you’re paying this much money, you have certain expectations of space, quality, luxury and comfort, and the good news is the Innova Crysta delivers on just about all of them. Sure, refinement is still not the greatest, and the steering, clutch and gearbox can get a bit tiresome in traffic, but these are minor setbacks in the scheme of things. The Crysta takes all the old Innova’s strengths that customers just love, and amplifies them. Yes, you will have to pay a premium for it, but as most owners of the previous car will tell you, it will be worth it.