I have known dozens of people who, even while contemplating buying a luxury car such as a Mercedes-Benz, ask the salesperson whether its rear seat is as comfortable as the Innova’s—often leaving the salesperson baffled! That’s the kind of fan following this MPV’s rear seat has earned. Be it intercity trips or urban commute, be it ferrying call centre staff or C-Suite executives, Toyota Innova is the first choice of most cab operators, who consider the vehicle a long-term investment. Drivers, too, swear by the MPV. “This is a Toyota, we don’t have to look any further,” most say. As do people who have bought it for personal use; believe it or not, over 70% Innova MPVs are bought by personal-use car buyers.
So, all these years—it was launched in 2005—what has worked for the Innova? A lot of things. An engine that, with timely servicing, can last lakhs of kilometres. Third-row seating space that can accommodate six-footers. A very efficient AC. Sturdy body that can last over 10 years. And, of course, comfortable-as-a-sofa second-row seats. The list is long. Now, the question is, can such a good machine be bettered? Toyota thinks it can; calls it the Innova Crysta. It is available in both manual and automatic variants.
The Innova’s is not a sexy design; it doesn’t always command second glances. But then products like this aren’t sold on looks, but on merit. Even then, the Innova Crysta does try to look better than the outgoing model. To an extent, it succeeds.
Upfront is a large hexagonal grille, with the twin-slat chrome that neatly merges with LED projector headlamps. On each end of the bumper are foglamps and turn-indicators. The side profile is more or less the same, but for the triangular third-row window. The rear gets inverted L-shaped tail-lamps and the top-end models get a spoiler. There is a shark-fin-type antenna on top, but it goes unnoticed because it looks too small compared to the sheer size of the vehicle.
The cabin is where the merit lies. Toyota has made the interior—at least that of the top-end version we drove—quite luxurious. The indirect blue ambient illumination stands out, and is bright enough to be noticed during daytime. The dashboard in the manual variant gets silver-line decoration—a metallic strip artfully runs across the dash—and the ornamentation is in red-wood finish; in the automatic, you get hazel-brown-wood finish. The 3D design combination meter looks neat and the 4.2-inch TFT multi-information screen displays the needed drive information, such as fuel consumption, average speed, temperature, navigation, cruising range, phone calls and more. At the centre of the dashboard is a seven-inch capacitive touchscreen for audio and related functions.
The second row, Innova’s tour de force, has been further improved. There is ample legroom, enough back and under-thigh support, and the seat can be reclined to turn it into a narrow bed. Using a lever, the rear left-side passenger can slide the front seat to make more legroom. The rear AC is now automatic and gets a digital display. The front seatback has a tray—like found on aircraft seats—which can be opened for eating or reading; however, it is too small to hold a normal-sized 14-inch laptop.
The third row has 50:50 split seats with a one-touch easy space-up function to create more luggage space. What makes the Innova Crysta unique is that all seven seats can be reclined and come with height-adjustable headrests.
The Innova Crysta gets two new engines. The manual is 2393cc (148bhp; 343Nm; 5-speed) and the automatic is 2755cc (172bhp; 360Nm; 6-speed).
The model which is being discontinued was powered by a 2494cc engine (101bhp; 200Nm).
Manual: There is considerable torque difference between the new model and the old, and it starts to show in the second gear onwards. Despite being heavier—the manual weighs 1855kg, 200kg more than the outgoing model—there is no apparent lack of power, and power delivery is uniform across gears. The gear-shift level, however, vibrates at low RPMs. The manual doesn’t get a dead pedal.
Automatic: This 6-speed gearbox with sequential shift is super-smooth, and gears change like they do in a DSG box, well almost. The kerb weight is 1870kg. It pretty much drives like a car and despite being a tall vehicle, body-roll is minimal.
To be launched in May, the Innova Crysta would certainly be more expensive than the Innova (R11.18 lakh to R16.73 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi), considering the fact that improvements are substantial. However, because the engine size is over 2000cc and it is a diesel, the Innova Crysta—despite it being a BS-IV compliant vehicle—cannot be registered in Delhi, and 8% of its sales come from the Delhi market.
The Innova Crysta’s prices start from Rs 13.84 lakh for the entry-level G 7-seater manual model to Rs 20.78 lakh for the top-end Zx 7-seater automatic (ex-showroom, Mumbai). This translates into a price increase of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh—depending on the grade—over the previous generation Innova. However, the Innova Crysta is a far improved and bigger vehicle with new engines and a new gearbox, so the premium is well worth it. Be it C-Suite executives or call-centre staff, passengers can be assured of a lot more comfort and extra space. For people who plan to buy it for personal use—over 70% of the previous generation Innova MPVs were bought by personal-use car buyers—this is a vehicle that is as close as a big MPV can get to an entry-luxury sedan, even if you include drivability. However, because its both engines are over 2000cc and it is a diesel, the Innova Crysta—despite it being a BS-IV compliant vehicle—cannot be registered in Delhi NCR, and 8% of its sales come from the Delhi market.
Toyota Innova Crysta Variant-wise Prices (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
2.4 G 7 Seater MT - Rs 13.83 lakh
2.4 G 8 Seater MT - Rs 13.88 lakh
2.4 GX 7 Seater MT - Rs 14.69 lakh
2.8 GX 7 Seater AT - Rs 15.99 lakh
2.4 GX 8 Seater MT - Rs 14.74 lakh
2.8 GX 8 Seater AT - Rs 16.04 lakh
2.4 VX 7 Seater MT - Rs 17.53 lakh
2.4 VX 8 Seater MT - Rs 17.57 lakh
2.4 ZX 7 Seater MT - Rs 19.47 lakh
2.8 ZX 7 Seater AT - Rs 20.77 lakh