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.
Design and Style
As far as looks are concerned Toyota have gone for the tried and tested formula and the Innova Crysta’s profile looks very similar to the old car's silhouette. But Toyota has added elements like the prominent crease which gives it a more dynamic look and the larger 17inch rims add a bit of muscle.
The angular quarter glass behind the C-pillar looks quite unique and adds character too. In the front the large hexagonal grille dominates proceedings and the two slats on top neatly meet the angular projector headlamps which has DRls too. The rear end is simple but the boomerang shaped tail lamps make the new Innova look wider than it is. Overall, the Innova Crysta looks modern and its appearance will draw a more positive response than before.
Like with the old car the Crysta uses a rudimentary ladder frame chassis. But it’s a brand new one and to make the new frame more rigid, Toyota has added more cross-members and additional welding points. On the flip-side this has made the chassis much heavier than before and despite the weight saving through using high tensile steel for the body, the Innova Crysta weighs nearly 200kg more than the old car. On the measuring scale the Crysta has grown in every direction too. It is a substantial 180mm longer, 60mm wider and 40mm taller than the old car. Incidentally the wheelbase at 2750mm is exactly the same as the old car.
As with every car we test, we parked both the variants of Crysta on the weighing scale and the results were surprising. The automatic weighed in at 1880kg which is just 10kg off Toyota’s claim while the manual was even better with it weighing just 5kg more than the claimed 1855kg kerb weight.
Arguably the biggest transformation has happened on the inside and the cabin feels spacious, open and crisply styled. The modern dashboard looks fresh, is well detailed and the swooping dash top looks really great without being overdone. Details like the single piece of metal strip which runs across the top of the dashboard looks premium and classy. Visibility from the high front seats is good and this makes it easy to drive especially in traffic.
Despite the swooping dash, ergonomics are spot-on and everything from the touchscreen to the Air-con controls are tilted upwards for ease of use. The blue backlit instrument cluster looks modern and the digital centre screen hosts a comprehensive trip computer. USB and aux-in ports are cleverly placed in the middle for an easy access for front and rear passengers. As an observation we would have preferred more USB ports especially considering it’s a premium seven seater. The touchscreen is intuitive to use and it host various information like satellite navigation, eco display (which shows how efficiently you are driving), Bluetooth telephony and music system controls. On the downside I would have preferred the volume control to be a knob for easier access while driving.
As far as upholstery is concerned the top of the line ZX variant gets leather seats. But while in the manual transmission variant you get an all-black cabin which looks sporty, the automatic features a more classy brown upholstery. Overall quality especially on the upper portion of the dashboard is quite good and Toyota has added some elements to justify the high asking price. The touch points like the armrest on the doorpad is covered in soft velvety fabric, the chunky leather wrapped steering with large control button is great to hold, the gloss black finish on the front doorpads look classy (weirdly the rear doorpad gets wood finish) and even the control stalks are of high order. But considering it’s an expensive car we expected better consistency especially lower down in the cabin.
The sea of black hard plastics around the glovebox, cupholders and doorpads look shiny and the graining could have been better too. Even the air-con buttons are too small and the chrome finish doesn’t look very convincing. We also felt that although the old Innova didn’t have the premium leather dash top and modern design, it had better quality consistency across the cabin.
Thanks to the larger dimensions the cabin feels wider and is more spacious than before. Seat comfort is first rate and the contoured front buckets are very comfortable. The driver seat in this top Z variant is powered too, and combined with the telescopic steering adjust, finding an ideal driving position is extremely easy. The middle row sees the biggest improvement and the extra cabin width has allowed Toyota engineers to give larger and more accommodating captain seats.
The middle-row buckets are supportive, underthigh support is really good and the reclining backrest makes this a great chauffer-driven car. The ceiling mounted blue ambient lighting and the large glass area makes this a great place to be in.
Even the front passenger seat can be adjusted using a well designed lever from the back. If you love working on the go, the foldable trays in the back are placed at an ideal height and their 7 kg weight capacity make them perfect to place your laptops on.
The third row though is not a huge improvement over the old car and the combination of the high floor and low seat makes it comfy only for short stints. You also get a removable headrest for the middle passenger (how will he fit in the narrow seat is a different matter) and all three occupants get three point seatbelts.
Visibility from the third row though is hampered by the stylish triangular quarter glass. With all three rows up, boot space is reasonable and can be extended by folding the last row when not in use.
Safety and Equipment
We had the top Z variant on our drive and it was packed to the brim. It gets a touch screen infotainment system, navigation, bluetooth, USB and aux-in ports, Eco and Power engine modes, powered mirrors with retract, three zone climate control ambiente roof lighting folding tables for the second row, 12-volt sockets for all three rows and a massive 20 one-litre bottle holders.
In terms of safety kit the Innova Crysta really impresses. The top Z variant came with seven airbags, ABS, brake assist, ESP and hill-start assist. Toyota also revealed the Crysta will get three airbags (driver, passenger and driver knee airbag) and ABS standard across the range.
Engine, performance and braking
As far as engines are concerned, Toyota has thrown the kitchen sink out of the window and the Innova now has transformed from underpowered to being the most powerful MPV on sale in India. The manual transmission car is powered by a 2.4-litre which makes 150bhp at 3400rpm and 343Nm of torque between 1400rpm and 2800rpm. While to compensate for the extra weight and power sapping torque converter transmission, the automatic variant motor displaces 2.8-litres which is good for 174bhp at 3400rpm and 360Nm of torque between 1200rpm and 3400rpm.
Lets start with the manual transmission first. As soon as you turn on this motor you realise that it is leagues ahead of the earlier 2.5-litre motor. It’s much smoother, the machine-gun rattle heard during cold starts is reduced and the nearly 50 per cent hike in power can be felt from the word go. Like before, power is available instantaneously and the Innova Crysta accelerates with enthusiasm. This motor feels less strained, the engine is much more flexible due to the wider powerband, and overtaking is now much easier.
It’s much more free-revving too and does not feel out of breath on top like the earlier motor. To aid city drivability the ratios on the first three gears are on the shorter side and the tall fourth and fifth makes it quite relaxing on the highway too. As a result the Crysta manual posted some impressive times. It took a scant 12.9 seconds to reach 100kmph (more than six seconds faster than the old car) and thanks to the minimal lag time of 10.03 seconds for 20-80kmph in third is just exceptional. There are downsides to the mechanicals too. The refinement though better than before is still not the best and you can hear a sharp clatter all the time. It also gets quite quite noisy when you rev it hard. The gearbox has shorter throws as compared to the old car but still it feels rudimentary with its rubbery shifts and there are lot of vibrations seeping through, especially at idle.
In this top ZX variant Toyota offers driving modes too. In Eco mode there is a slight hesitation from the motor at low revs as you can feel a step in power around 2000rpm. Switch to normal mode and the power delivery becomes linear and in sport mode the motor markedly feels more responsive and eager.
If the manual variant variant is quick then the automatic transmission shod Crysta is even better. Floor the accelerator pedal and the power delivery is linear with the gearbox shifting smoothly around 4000rpm. It feels freer revving than the 2.4 motor and is stronger throughout the rev range. On part throttle in D mode, like all modern automatics the 6-speed gearbox rapidly upshifts in favour of fuel efficiency.
The Crysta automatic also tends to coast in Eco mode as soon as you come off the throttle (it's like driving in neutral with no engine braking). But this also tends to confuse the gearbox as it keeps hunting gears especially while cruising. The gearbox though is quick enough and makes most of the torque available. In power mode the Innova posted some impressive numbers. It took 11.6 seconds to reach 100kmph and the quick in-gear time of 6.73 second in the 20-80kmph in kick down run is down to the flexible nature of the engine. Unlike in the manual transmission car the difference in drive modes is not that pronounced and while behind the wheel it will be difficult to tell which mode you are driving in.
Ride and handling
As this is a family MPV Toyota has gone for a softer suspension over the old car. As a result the Crysta feels plusher as compared to the jiggly low speed ride of the old car. It takes in most of the rough stuff quite well with decent body control. As with most ladder frame cars you get some shimmy when you encounter sharp potholes. Even at higher speeds there is more vertical movement over undulating surfaces but it doesn’t get to the point of being called uncomfortable.
The softer setup has compromised the new Innova’s handling too. Due to the heavier kerb weight and the plusher setup the Crysta rolls considerably more and it feels like a heavy car too. Even the steering is on the heavier side so it doesn’t feel as nimble at low speeds too. On the plus side the steering is quite direct and you can still steer the Innova with confidence and there is loads of grip from the 17-inch wheels.
Don’t be mistaken, the Innova Crysta is not a bad handling car, but it doesn’t feel as nimble as the old one. The difference in dynamics between the automatic and the manual transmission car is felt only at low speeds. To compensate for the heavier engine and transmission Toyota has given the automatic a slightly stiffer front suspension setup and surprisingly the steering is even heavier (which is weird as the automatic variant should be easier to manoeuvre in traffic). The brakes though are quite good with good initial bite and more adequate stopping power.
Price and Fuel Efficiency
The Innova Crysta has become even more expensive than before but you do get lot more standard features than the old car. Although the top variants are lavishly equipped, the base variants despite not being cheap are absurdly expensive. On the subject of fuel economy when driven in Eco mode, both the Crysta variants returned some decent numbers. Despite it gaining more than 200kg the Crysta in the manual returned 10.9kmpl in the city and 14.6kmpl on the highway. While the automatic variant returned a respectable 9.8kmpl in the city and 13.8kmpl on the highway. Thanks to the large 55-litre fuel tank, the manual has a good range of 600km while the automatic can go for than 550km before fill-ups.
|CAR NAME||Toyota Innova Crysta
|Variant||2.4 ZX 7 STR||2.8 ZX AT 7 STR|
|Displacement||4 cyls, 2393cc||4 cyls, 2795cc|
|Valve gear||4 valves per cyl, DOHC||4 valves per cyl, DOHC|
|Power||150bhp at 3400rpm-2800rpm||174bhp at 3400rpm|
|Torque||343nm at 1400rpm||360nm at 1200-3400rpm|
|Power to weight||80.86bhp per tonne||93.04bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||184.90Nm per tonne||192.51Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual||6-speed Automatic|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Construction||Body on frame, MPV|
|Type||Rack and pinion, Electronic power steering|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
||2.4 ZX 7 STR 2.8 ZX AT 7 STR|
|20-80kph in kickdown*/3rd gear||10.03s||6.73s*|
|40-100kph in kickdown*/4th gear||11.92s||8.56s*|
|80-0kph||25.45m 2.65s 25.45m 2.65s|
|Tank size||55 litres||55 litres|
|Seat base length||490mm|
|Seat base length||490mm|