Some would say ‘why-fix-anything-that-ain’t-already-broken’ is a sound business philosophy but Toyota certainly doesn’t think so. The 11-year-old Toyota Innova still practically controls the MPV market in India and that, for most other automakers, would have been reason enough to maintain the status quo. The Japanese giant, however, seems determined to take the popular nameplate to a new high with the introduction of the second-gen model, the Toyota Innova Crysta.
The new-gen family MPV has gotten much more premium than the model it replaces. It has grown in dimensions, packs more power and offers a lot of additional goodies. This means, the Innova Crysta targets a different set of customers compared to the older car, and its perceived rivals are strong selling premium SUVs.
Has Toyota done enough to dissolve the strong bond between the Indians and their SUVs? Will it uphold its predecessor’s legacy as a supremely comfortable family multi-purpose vehicle? Read on to find out.
Aesthetics wasn’t one the strong suits of the old Innova. The styling didn’t offend many people but at the same time didn’t win any accolades either. The new Innova Crysta continues to embrace the quintessential MPV profile but it wears it with a very sporty attitude.
Save for the basic shape, there is absolutely nothing to visually connect the new model to its predecessor. A massive hexagonal grille takes the centre stage on the front fascia. Two prominent chrome slats neatly merge into the smart wraparound headlamp clusters which house twin barrel elements (one projector and one halogen) and LED daytime running lights. The turn signals are integrated into the fog light enclosures.
The silhouette is familiar but the new large angular greenhouse and the resultant triangular C-pillar renders a whole new character. The subtle bulges around the wheel arches, understated sheet metal crease lines and five-triple spoke 17-inch alloy wheels further enhance the MPV’s appeal. We would’ve liked body-colored door handles and wing mirror caps but most Indians do love chrome bits.
The simple rear fascia is composed of a wide windshield, a roof-mounted spoiler and two-part boomerang shaped combination light clusters. To condense it into a single statement, the Toyota Innova Crysta is undoubtedly an MPV but a premium looking one at that.
A quick glance at the Innova Crysta’s interior is more than enough to observe that it has come a long way from the first gen model. The dashboard complies with the brand’s global design philosophy. The multifunction four-spoke steering wheel with wooden insert and leather wrapping comes from the top drawer. An elegant single-piece silver insert that flows across the width of the dashboard sets the tone for a multi-layered and design.
Enriched by faux wooden inserts, upmarket door pad trims and high-quality plastic surfaces, the new MPV’s cabin is sure to impress its target audience. The material and build qualities are hard to find fault with but the door shut quality fell short of our expectations.
The driver seat on the fully loaded variant is electrically adjustable. Combined with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, the seat offers an ergonomic setup irrespective of the driver’s height and build. The seat itself is leather wrapped and feels plush with ample thigh support and adequate side bolstering. Visibility from driver seat is excellent, thanks to large daylight opening and well designed rear-view mirrors. The front passenger seat makes do with manual adjustments but it offers the same level of comfort as the driver seat.
As of now, the Innova Crysta is only available as a 7-seater which means you get a pair of bucket seats in the middle row, both with one-touch fold-and-tumble functions for easy access to the rear row. The two seats can slide back and forth allowing for optimized space utilization for both middle and rear row occupants. The middle row seats are mounted slightly higher than the front seats and are ideal for long distance journeys. The cushioning is just right, leg room is not an issue, and the passengers also benefit from individual arm rests. There is enough light inside the cabin to make the ambiance airy but we would’ve liked to see more head room.
Coming to the third row of seats, ingress and egress are fairly easy but as usual, passengers are forced to adopt a knee-up sitting position with no thigh support. The increased body length of 70 mm has gone into increasing the leg room for both middle and rear row passengers. The overall comfort level is not outstanding but it’s much more usable than most other third row seats out there in the market. We particularly like the individual three-point seat belts for all the three rear row occupants.
The headliner sports a neat indirect blue illumination strip to enhance the in-cabin experience. The well laid out cabin has as many as 20 bottle holders and ample storage space for other nick-nacks.
To put it simply, the Toyota Innova Crysta’s cabin is easily the most improved aspect compared to the good old Innova. It never fails to please you irrespective of where you sit.
Under the hood
The Toyota Innova Crysta is available with new GD family of diesel engines displacing 2.4- and 2.8-litre. The smaller motor comes as a replacement to the old 2.5-litre power house while the 2.8-litre unit targets customers who are looking for an automatic option.
2.4-litre GD Diesel
The 2.4-litre mill dishes out a healthy 150 PS and 343 Nm of torque. It’s a good 48 PS and 143 Nm of torque more than what the older motor managed to deliver. A 5-speed manual transmission drives the rear wheels.
Needless to say, the improvement in performance is massive and you can realize it right from the moment you let go off the clutch. The peak torque is generated between 1,400 and 2,800 rpm so the motor has enough grunt at any given moment irrespective of which gear you are in. Drivability within city confines is fantastic and the motor doesn’t hesitate to munch highway miles either.
The Power and Economy drive modes (in addition to a default mode) significantly alter the way the power is delivered. With a combination of highway and city stints, we managed to extract an indicated fuel efficiency of 10.1 kmpl which is pretty decent.
While the overall gear shift quality has improved compared to the old gen Innova, it still has long throws and a notchy feel. However, the engine’s excellent torque spread eliminates frequent gear shifts.
All in all, the 2.4-litre GD diesel powertrain is highly flexible and offers performance which matches the new-gen MPVs premium appeal. In our opinion, this engine ties up with the interior to become the most improved aspect of the car.
2.8-litre GD Diesel
The range-topping 2.8-litre GD diesel engine is available exclusively with a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission. The motor produces 174 PS and 360 Nm of torque.
It appears the transmission losses negate the power and torque advantage the bigger engine has over its smaller sibling. Don’t get us wrong, the 2.8-litre mill is no doubt a strong performer but the difference in real-world performance over the 2.4-litre unit can hardly be felt.
The 6-speed AT operates in an unobtrusive manner under normal driving conditions. Both upshifts and downshifts are very smooth but the transmission doesn’t like to be hurried. The motor starts coasting moments after you lift off the accelerator to enhance efficiency.
The engine and gearbox combo feels absolutely at home in stop-go city traffic and it’s very easy to adapt to its nature.
Noise Vibration Harshness
This is another department where the Innova Crysta registers significant improvement over the outgoing car. Both engines are audible under heavy acceleration but work in reasonable silence while cruising. The automatic variant’s coasting function adds to the quietness inside the cabin.
Vibrations are also kept well within acceptable limits. The Innova Crysta does an impressive job of keeping the wind noise away from the cabin although a bit of tyre noise filters in at high speeds. The MPV masks speed very well, making it a great cross country equipment.
The second generation IMV ladder-frame chassis gets increased plate thickness and enlarged cross-sectional area for higher rigidity. The weight gain in offset by the usage of high-tensile steel. So the end result is a much more accomplished chassis at the cost of minimal weight gain.
The double-wishbone suspension setup with torsion bar is noticeably softer than before but Toyota’s engineers have got the damping spot on. As a result, the Cyrsta is even more comfortable than its predecessor and simply glides over most road imperfections as if it’s born to do so.
The ladder-frame chassis may not be modern but the electronic assistance features like Vehicle Stability Control, ABS, EBD and BA does come in handy to offer sound active safety. Despite its size, heft (kerb weight of almost 1.9 tonnes), and soft underpinnings, the Innova Crysta displays exemplary discipline and body control when pushed hard around the corner.
If you overcook it, you can clearly feel the VSC pitch in to keep its promise. We also liked the way the hydraulic steering system feels. The straight line stability and the grip from 215/55 R17 tyres are equally impressive.
The Innova Crysta employs massive 16-inch front disc and regular rear drums to shed the momentum. Panic braking from 80 kmph resulted in the 7-seater coming to a quick halt in a straight line. Commendable.
The fully-loaded Z grade comes equipped with a host of safety and comfort features that justify the MPV’s premium tag. Safety is addressed by 7 airbags (including driver knee airbag), VSC, ABS with EBD, BA, HSA, 3-point seat belts for all the 7 passengers, etc.
Other salient features include projector LED headlamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, a neat 6-speaker touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and reverse parking camera, automatic climate control with rear AC vents, cruise control, and so on.
Is it worth owning?
We honestly don’t remember when was the last time we drove such a vastly improved new gen model. The Toyota Innova Crysta is so much more better than the car it puts to rest in almost each and every aspect. Mind you, the old Innova itself is an impressive vehicle to start with.
Both engines are strong on performance and driveability, the styling grows on you, the cabin oozes class, equipment list is elaborate, and it has got great dynamics. We really felt challenged to find fault with this vehicle.
So, it’s not an exaggeration at all when we say that the Toyota Innova Crysta is the best 7-seater one can buy in India this side of INR 20 lakhs. That said, we do hope that the automaker passes on the cost benefits of increased localization (stands at around 80% now) to is customers rather than taking advantage of the brand recall to command a high premium.[Photos – Ashwin Ram N P]