The Innova Crysta. It’s a case study in itself. It’s such a successful MPV that all and sundry - from Mahindra Marazzo to the Ertiga – have tried to replicate it. But, every time they think about upping the price, they fear rejection.
Not Toyota. In its second generation, the Innova Crysta is priced nearly Rs 30 lakhs for the top the line version. And to think it started at under Rs 10 lakhs all those years back just makes this price seem ridiculous. But, it continues to sell. And handsomely at that.
So, why does everyone want to buy the Innova Crysta? Here is a list of things that make it click, and a couple that doesn’t.
Perfect for Six
This, the top of the line ZX trim comes with captain seats for the second row. So it has seating for two up front, two in the middle, and three in the last row.
Now, the front and the second-row captain seats aren’t just big and cushy, these are comfortable, adjustable for almost everything, and great to spend long hours in.
The last two seats aren’t as comfy, of course. These are meant for three adults complete with a headrest and a three-point seat belt for the middle passenger. But, we feel its best left to two.
Space-wise, there’s decent head and knee room for the occupants in the last row. And for the rest, well, there’s space by the truckload! Headroom, knee room or shoulder room, you name it, and there’s an excess of it.
Practical All Round
The Innova isn’t just great at moving people, it’s practical in other ways too. If you have just four people and a lot of luggage, the last row can be folded up, liberating enough and more space to throw in many bags. And, if there are just two people and ll luggage but no hotels in the vicinity... well, drop the second row, roll out a mattress, and you are set.
Besides luggage, the Innova Crysta is also reasonably easy to get in and out of, for the first two rows. And even the last row doesn’t need gymnast credentials to get into. Moreover, there’s a place to put your coffee, your water bottle, wallet, Smartphone, and other knick-knacks you might have on you.
And in the ZX trim, there are other comfort and convenience features too. You get keyless entry and start. Reversing parking sensors with camera. Electrically adjustable driver’s seat. A cooled box. One touch up and down for all four windows. And automatic headlamps, among others.
Over the years, Toyota – and Innova engines in particular – have been the benchmark when it comes to reliability. This 2.8-litre diesel is of the same mould. Only with more power and torque. It makes a little over 170bhp and a handsome 360Nm of torque. So, even though the Innova Crysta is heavy, the 2.8-litre engine doesn’t let it feel lethargic.
It is coupled to a 6-speed automatic. It’s not the best torque converter auto in the business - not with its lazy shifts - but we still prefer it over the manual because the manual one comes mated to a smaller, less interesting Diesel engine. There are no paddle shifters here, but, you can shift manually using the stick. Something we rarely felt the need to do.
This engine and gearbox combo also works well on highways or for intercity travel. The engine has enough grunt all through the rpm range, and it especially comes alive between 2500-3500rpm, making it easy to make quick overtakes.
The Innova Crysta also gets to 100kmph in quick time. And in the sixth, at 100kmph, the engine is barely turning over 1500rpm, making the drive calm and unhurried and undemanding.
Now, the Innova uses a body on ladder construction - which is more truck or bus-like than a car. So, we don’t expect it to win any ride and handling competitions. But in a straight line, even at three-digit speeds, it feels completely planted. Bumps, undulations, crosswinds, or even a lane change, doesn’t upset its composure.
But yes, around a corner, it rolls, it takes time to settle back, and if the road is bumpy, its rear does tend to skip about a bit. But is it scary, or unnerving, or will it make you throw up? No. It’s just not very polished, so to say.
Well, both the Toyota and the Innova brand names are one of the strongest in the Indian auto scene. And they have earned it with their reliability and hassle-free ownership experience.
No wonder we don’t mind paying so much for this MPV. But here's the cool part. Chances are when you go to sell it after years and years of owning it and enjoying it, you might get a lot of your money back. Just ask the various first-generation Innova owners.
I know I keep circling back to the Innova Crysta’s price, but then, that’s the elephant in the room. Now, for Rs 30 lakhs (on-road) one expects a serene, vibe-free, luxurious and an easy to live with environment in the car. And that means a quiet and refined engine, a plush and almost cosseting ride, a silent cabin, and absolute isolation from any mechanical nuisance.
The Innova doesn’t give you that. The engine is loud, you can feel the mechanicals at work through the steering and pedals. There is wind and road noise, and over poor roads, one can hear and feel the suspension as well.
Price-Feel Good Equation
Okay, did we mention this particular version of the Innova costs almost Rs 30 lakhs on the road? But, the MPV’s interior doesn’t exude the same lushness. The look and feel of plastics all-round is barely a match for premium hatchbacks. There’s no soft-touch plastic anywhere. And the operability doesn’t give you that sense of engineering finesse one expects at this price point.
It also misses out on a few features, and the ones that it packs in could have been better executed. Like the multimedia touchscreen. It doesn’t even get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and it looks like it belongs to a generation gone by...
The Innova has its negatives, but not enough to eclipse its merits. And these are very compelling merits. Practicality, reliability, comfort, resale, snob value, and a decent set of features. Not the best, but decent nonetheless. Plus, it can haul six or seven adults all around the country without bother.
So, unless you dislike MPVs, or like me, can’t afford one, there’s no real reason not to buy one. And I think automatic is the way to go.
Pictures by Kapil Angane