Back in 2005 when it was first introduced as a 7 and 8 seat MPV in India, the Indian market devoured the Toyota Innova. It seemed to be the best thing since the automotive equivalent of sliced bread. Over the years Toyota has upgraded the Innova and it has transformed into a premium offering now. In 2016, the second-generation model was introduced as the Innova Crysta. It offered a 2.4-litre diesel manual and a 2.8-litre automatic while a 2.7-litre petrol version was later introduced. However, in the BS6 era, to manage costs and streamline the engine line-up, Toyota dropped the more powerful 2.8-litre diesel, upgraded the 2.4 and the 2.7-litre petrol to BS6 and threw in an automatic transmission option with the smaller diesel engine. So we decided to drive the BS6 compliant 2.4-litre motor, now mated to the automatic transmission to see what it’s like and also to see if there is anything new on offer with the Innova Crysta.
From the outside, you would not be able to tell if its a new BS6 era vehicle or and older model. The Innova Crysta look identical as it has since it arrived with a large front grille, LED projector headlamps, flat side panels, same alloy wheels, and the inverted L-shaped halogen tail lamps. Much is the story on the inside. The interior has also not been touched what so ever. But the in-cabin experience continues to offer the plush aura as before. However, the plastic quality in certain areas still leaves room for improvement. The seat layout is still the same offering 7 and 8 seat configurations and offers tan leather upholstery as before in the top-spec 7-seat ZX trim which we drove. The captain seats in the Innova Crysta are wide and as always supremely comfortable with a great amount of space allowing for an unhindered journey of any duration. Thanks to the availability of ample space in the third row, two passengers can sit comfortably, while a third can squeeze in as well. The air-con vents in the back, along with the large windows tend to help not make it claustrophobic for short to medium journeys for third-row passengers.
In the infotainment department, however, the Innova Crysta has a lot of catching up to do. The 7-inch touchscreen system offers rudimentary navigation using a complicated interface and the touch response is also quite slow. Considering the price, not offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is a major miss for the Crysta. Simply elevating this system would make the Innova that little more desirable with that touch of modernity.
Behind the Wheel
The 2.4-litre turbo diesel develops 148bhp and 360Nm of torque, identical to the performance from the BS4 version of the motor. The automatic transmission is a 6-speed torque converter and has now been integrated with the smaller engine. To comply with BS6 emission regulations, the powertrain has been equipped with a selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF). But as these vehicles in India are predominantly driven in the lower rev range, the DPF can get clogged. If the DFP gets clogged, the driver will be alerted on the instrument panel following which the vehicle must be parked. Then the driver will have to initiate the process of unclogging the DPF by pressing the switch placed on the driver side lower dash. This will run the engine at high revs for a certain duration when the vehicle is stationary to help burn the soot and unclog the DPF. This will not be a regular occurrence during the ownership of course as its requirement will be based on usage and ambient temperatures.
With the upgrade to BS6, the engine feels more refined to drive at lower revs that helps elevate the in-cabin experience in a positive direction. The Crysta is comfortable at cruising speed in all aspects. While there is decent low-end grunt, there is some noticeable turbo lag, but there is enough power and torque on tap to help push the vehicle when required. Once the turbo does kick in, the Innova Crysta accelerates quite effortlessly.
Coming to the transmission, the unit leaves room for further refinement. When you put the vehicle into drive or reverse, it has the old fashioned clunk and sends a jolt through the vehicle. At cold start this jolt is so prominent that it feels like a small vehicle has actually rear-ended you. But once you get moving the transmission goes on about its work at cruising speeds. There is some hesitation when you floor the throttle, but the kick-down is decent for its purpose and won’t be difficult to drive in city conditions. While there are Eco, and Power modes, leaving it in Comfort is ideal for most city and highway conditions. There is also more than enough poke to allow for easy overtaking on highways and expressways, although, Power mode may come in handy when fully loaded with passengers and luggage. The engine is of course not comparable to the more powerful 2.8-litre, but it does get the job done.
The steering is an old fashioned hydraulic unit which makes the heavy vehicle difficult to park, but on the move, there is not much to complain about for normal use. But there is some noticeable play at any given speed. Additionally, at higher speeds, the steering actually becomes lighter and there is very little feedback that can lead to hairy situations on the highway. The ride is fairly comfortable and the Crysta moves along well when cruising. But using old fashioned utility vehicle underpinnings, it can be bumpy on uneven roads, and choppy on broken roads. But, thanks to the way the suspension is set up, the bumps do not make the ride uncomfortable, however, the bumpiness can become an issue for the third-row passengers on long journeys.
The Innova has built a reputation of being a no-nonsense, comfortable, value for money and an easy to maintain vehicle with bulletproof reliability ever since it arrived. While many have tried to dethrone the Innova, most have failed to make any significant dent. The Innova Crysta may not offer all the thrills and frills that its modern counterparts do, but it’s not designed for that purpose. Its predominant purpose is to be a workhorse, and it does the job as intended and perfectly. That said, the asking price for the Innova is pretty steep for the top of the range models. Some creature comfort features could have been thrown in to make the deal a little easier to digest. But if it’s undisputed mechanical robustness you are after, you would be hard-pressed to find a rival that can match the might of the Toyota Innova Crysta.
Toyota Innova Crysta Specs:
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