Think people carrier and the first thing that comes to the mind is the Toyota Innova. Now in its third upgrade, we take it for a quick spin to tell you why it is the king of the MPV segment.
It was just the other day when I wanted to book a cab for my family of five for a pilgrimage trip. While I wasn’t particular about the vehicle, the only thing I was looking for was decent comfort and certain levels of safety considering it was going to a long haul. With the Toyota Innova fitting the bill just right, I asked for one. However, not only was he out of all his Innova’s but even the one’s he borrowed from another travel agency were booked. While he had other vehicles, he just didn’t have any Innova at all. It’s a popular vehicle, I get that but this was plain unbelievable. And it’s not just in case of cabs. The very first Innova came to India in 2005, eight years down the line nothing much has changed. It’s gone through its third facelift and multiple price increase and still managing to sell with a waiting even now. While this might be the last facelift before Toyota brings in the all new Innova with a completely new platform and engines, lets take a look at what this new Innova has to offer.
The biggest upgrade comes on the outside, primarily at the front. There is an all-new 3 slatted chrome grille which now extends all the way down into a new squarish bumper. The fog lights also get a chrome surround to add a contemporary touch. The sides remain the same barring a chrome strip running across the length of the car and some new body graphics. The rear gets a chrome garnish too with a pair of flush fitted reflectors with a nice little spoiler finishing things off. Overall it does freshen up the old MPV’s appeal but the front could have been worked upon a little more aesthetically. The grille is too large and the retained headlights do not gel with it giving the new Innova an odd face. Whether the new look grows on us or not remains to be seen.
Step inside and you notice the interiors have been spruced up too. The top Z variant that you see here gets leather two tone seats which add to the luxury bit. What does not is the bright silver panel surrounding the audio system and the climate control. There is extensive use of wooden finish as well with the dash, gear knob and the armrest adorning the treatment. Everything else remains the same. The ergonomics are just fine with a very car like driving position. Lots of space and with the captain seat arrangement, the Innova makes for a very comfortable 6 seater but an uncomfortable 7 seater.
Crank it up and the Innova wakes up to a familiar clattery idle. The D-4D engine has proved itself to be quite a workhorse and even after all these years remains unchanged. The 2494 cc lump pushes out a 102 PS and a very average 200 Nm of torque. While the figures remain the same, we have nothing to complain about as far as performance is concerned. Toyota has made sure every bit of that horsepower is utilized well and it shows when you get going. Performance is effortless and even under a full load the Innova does not feel like its running out of steam out on the highways and if driven in the powerband, it’s quite fuel efficient too.
While performance is not an issue with the Innova, what is, is the driving comfort. Let me explain that a little more elaborately. While the overall NVH levels are mighty good, the most irritating bit are the vibrations seeping in through the gear lever. And that’s not the only irritating bit. The gear throws are quite long and should the occasion come where you need to keep shifting it’s quite a taxing affair, especially on the shoulders. This is perhaps the only area where the Innova’s old school roots come to the fore.
The Innova then really builds on what it already had. While I won’t consider the looks as an upgrade, the slightly better interiors along with the nip and tuck are just means to add a year or two before the all new Innova arrives. But is the Innova just as good a deal as it always was? With prices starting at Rs. 12.45 lakh for the base GX version and going all the way to Rs. 15.06 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the featured here Z variant, the Innova comes across as quite an expensive proposition considering its now slightly dated underpinnings. With a lot more options available in the form of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, the Nissan Evalia and the Mahindra Xylo amongst others, the Innova does not really come across as good value. But what it does bring to the table is top notch quality, proven reliability and no nonsense means of travelling and if these are a priority in your purchase, look no further.