Apart from a diverse variety of mammals, canine friends and rickety trucks, the Toyota Innova has also called Indian highways its home since 2005. It’s an ubiquitous piece of kit the Innova, comes in shades of grey, and is happy wearing both yellow or white registration plates. The Japanese people mover is the preferred choice when you father plans that bi-monthly road trip with family, or when your slightly underachieving, but dear friend gets picked up to go to the call center to tick off a few smug Americans.
Anyways, let’s cut to the chase here, and list down the most important attributes that has made the Innova so popular –
- Inoffensive appearance
- Effortless performance
- Good interior space and comfort
- Friendly dynamics
- Legendary reliability
- Unreal resale value
In case you haven’t noticed yet, there is an all-new Innova being readied to smoother away the warm vibes that the old one gave off. It is called the lnnova Crysta, and we drove it in Goa, so let’s see how the new Innova fares on the parameters that matter
Toyota Innova Crysta Design and Styling
If you thought that the Innova looks inoffensive, the new one is a bit chintzy, especially from the front, while from the rest of the angles, it just looks big and rather inoffensive. Mind you, it has a lukewarm road presence, and is significantly bigger* on the outside than the Innova it replaces, but doesn’t look as cohesive, or as pleasing as the old one; or maybe it’s just me. It’s sharp and smart in places, but looks wooly and soft in other areas – let’s dissect its appearance in words.
*At 4,735 mm long, 1,830 mm wide and 1,795 mm high, the new Innova Crysta is 155 mm longer and 60 mm wider than the old Innova, while height and wheelbase (2,750 mm) of both remain the same.
The front end gawks at you with its serpentine trails of chrome, which even travel inside the insanely long headlamps. The headlamps themselves are jeweled up with projector units, and because DRL strips are too mainstream, there are four LED dots on either side, which kind of look cool. All these jeweled up illuminating elements can only be found on the top trims, while the lower trims continue with normal, clear lens headlamps.
Then there’s the massive, trapezoidal grille, which is half black and half white. Mulatto references aside, it looks quite intimidating when viewed head-on, and consists of piano black finished slats on the lower section, and silvery finished slats above, highlighted with the aforementioned, serpentine chrome lines.
In spite of having such spacious headlamp clusters, the designers couldn’t find accommodation for the indicators there, so they (the indicators) were asked to move. They found solace in the fog lamp clusters below, with whom they lived happily ever after. Note – given the trend, the Innova doesn’t make any bones about it being a pseudo-SUV of sorts, so there are no traces of pretentious sump guards or body cladding to be found anywhere; everything’s clean as a whistle – pure, shiny sheet metal.
The sides show a lot of metal, while there are a handful of timid lines trying their bit to break the swathes of metallic monotony on the sides. The strongest character line has to be the one that slashes through the middle, digs into the bodywork over the rear fender and disappears into the tail lamps. Everything else is subtle, including the fender flares, while above the waist, things get a little interesting. There’s a chrome strip that runs along the base of the windows, bringing some shine to the sides, while the rear window suddenly runs crazy and slashes the D-pillar diagonally, finally breaking the monotony. The large, 17-inch alloy wheels look neat, and save the Innova Crysta from looking like a suitcase from the sides, while chrome on the door handles saves some of the work done by the chrome strip above them.
You’d wonder how aerodynamics are involved with something that doesn’t look very sharp, but there are subtle fins on the Innova Crysta’s front quarter panel and tail lamps that actually let it slip through the air better, allowing for better noise insulation inside – we’ll see how that works later.
From the back, the large rear overhang and the boxy demeanor make the Crysta look like a mini-bus. Those boomerang shaped tail lamp extensions don’t help much, nor do the contouring on the tail gate. The rear spoiler is adventurous, and manages to stick out in a good way.
Large 17-inch wheels get lovely detailing on the spokes; come wrapped around with 275/55 Bridgestone rubber.
The diagonally slashed D-pillar is the only interesting bit going on the sides; chrome beading adds a streak of class.
Top-end Z trim levels receive chromed handles and ORVM caps; note the puddle lamps.
Toyota Innova Crysta Interior space, features and comfort
Once inside, the tables are turned twice over in the newer Toyota’s favor; yes, it is that good. The first thing you feel is the sheer space inside, which can easily shame that shady 1-BHK on Pali Hill that your ‘struggling’ friends had rented out. I don’t know if you’d relate to that analogy or not, but for your reference, the old Innova, quite spacious inside itself, feels much smaller in comparison. In spite of the wheelbase being the same on both the generations (2,750 mm), the larger dimensions all around allow for all the extra room inside.
Then there’s the ambience and materials. The top level Z trims we drove will also make the old Innova feel bare, with their Hazel Brown leather upholstery (2.8-AT; Black Leather on 2.4-MT), wood finishers and leather wrapped everything. There’s ambient lighting inside, which only glows in blue, and if you’re in the second row and choose to look up, there’s this arch-like ceiling ornament which hosts the top air vents, apart from the personal reading lamps. The large, multifunction steering wheel is leather wrapped (so is the gear knob) with wood inserts, while the flamboyantly styled dashboard (you can already see the old Innova walk away teary-eyed) is highlighted with wooden and dull silver accents. Yes, the wood is vehemently fake, but who cares? There’s chrome on the inside door handles, and the door trims are all done up with large tracts of matching brown/black suede, which feels terrific to rest your elbows on.
The seats, upholstered in leather with contrast stitching, are cushy, yet supportive and well bolstered, and as mentioned before, there are acres of head-, leg- and elbow-room everywhere. The third row is decently spacious too, though long journeys are still not something that can be undertaken in that space. The driver’s chair gets 8-way power adjustability, while the second row Captain Seats come with a slide & one-touch tumble feature that makes access to the third row a fairly easy. The third row seats get a 50:50 split, and both the second and third row seats can be reclined. Armrests come as standard on the second row chairs, while all passengers get height adjustable headrests. The second row also gets individual tray tables affixed to the front seat backs. If not the traditional Indian meal, the tables will accommodate your Macbook Air for sure. There are AC vents on the top, as well as in the third row, which means cooling yourself in the new Crsyta will never be an issue, as the powerful compression chills the cavernous cabin within seconds. If travelling in the earlier Innova made you feel like transporting yourself from point A to point B, the Crysta makes that experience doubly special, especially as you laze in its spaciousness, revel in the new, up-market ambience, and get spoilt by the gamut of new features.
Instrumentation is nice, with chunky dials on either side and a 4.2-inch TFT multi information display and illumination control in the middle. This display is remarkably comprehensive, and shows information like fuel consumption, cruising range, average speed, elapsed time, ECO drive indicator and ECO score (referring to the driving modes), outside temperature, navigation display, audio display, phone caller display and warnings; more like a watered down version of Audi’s sharp Virtual Cockpit feature.
Elaborating on the features, the Crysta does bring a lot of new equipment to the table. While the earlier Innova’s center console bored you with its strictly functional knobs and switches, a swanky, 7-inch touch-screen equipped infotainment sits flush in the center console of the Crysta. The screen’s capacitive touch is fairly responsive, and also includes a flick and drag function. The system also provides DVD, Bluetooth, Aux-in, remote control and voice tag (only for contacts) features, apart from an in-built navigation feature, which worked like a dream during the drive, with fast and precise route recalculations. However, sound quality through the 6 speakers feels strictly average. Other notable features on the Crsyta include keyless entry, push start/stop button, speed sensing auto lock, cruise control, seat back pockets, tilt & telescopic steering column, auto up/down power windows, door courtesy lamps, dead pedal, and two 12V DC ports.
I have saved the interior storage for the last, as in this area, the new Innova Crysta trumps not only the Innova, but most other utility vehicles on sale today. Get this – the Crysta has space for not five or ten, but as many as twenty bottles! Each door bin has space for three bottles; one 1-litre bottle and two 500 ml bottles. This is more of an India specific thing, as it turns out that research enlightened Toyota that Indians travel in the Innova for fairly long distances, mostly through arid climes, and they prefer 1-liter water bottles over anything else. Here’s an A grade to their homework. Then there are two gloveboxes in the dashboard; with the upper glovebox being cooled and both being illuminated, and an assortment of cubby holes all around to store knick-knacks. There are also a couple of retractable drink holders on either side of the dashboard, with both drinks getting cooled by their strategic placement in front of the side air vents. Call me unambitious, but I’d happily stay inside the new Crysta like its home.
Boot space with the third row up stands at 450 litres.
The multi-function steering wheel is rather large, leather wrapped and has a ‘red wood’ insert’; 2.8-AT get ‘brown wood’.
Automatic climate control is chilly; even second row occupants get to fiddle with fan speed.
Detail: The thin aluminium strip that marks the curvature of the dashboard was one of he toughest elements in the interior to produce because of its complex curves and chamfers.
These large suede armrests integrated with the door trims are a pleasure to rest elbows on.
Levels of fit/finish, plastic quality and materials used inside the Innova Crysta are top notch.
The presence of a dead pedal in both the versions is a boon.
Finally, the key to the new Innova Crysta
Toyota Innova Crysta Engine, transmission and performance
The Innova Crysta will be sold in India with two diesel engine options – a 2.8-litre unit (1GD) exclusively mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a 2.4-litre (2GD) unit only available with a 5-speed manual transmission. Both four-cylinder units are from Toyota’s new GD family of turbo diesel engines, and while the 1GD is rated at a healthy 174 PS @ 3400 rpm and 360 Nm @ 1200-3400 rpm, the 2GD makes do with 150 PS @ 3400 rpm and 343 Nm @ 1400-2800 rpm. The latter makes more power, as well as more torque than the erstwhile 2.5-litre diesel engine, which maxed out at ‘just’ 200 Nm of twist and 102 PS. The GD engines have seen some strong engineering going into them, with engine friction reduced by 20% than before, while their thermal efficiency rating of 40% is claimed to be the highest in the world for diesel engines.
Slide the shifter into D and the more powerful of the Crysta siblings effortlessly glides into motion. Let’s talk about the NVH levels first because during the product presentation, the folks at Toyota couldn’t stop talking about how they significantly improved cabin insulation from before. To their credit, they’ve done a fantastic job, and with the engine idling, the new Crysta feels like a tomb inside or as quiet as tombs with diesel engines can become. Diesel clatter is well contained as compared to the Innova, and even on the move, there’s barely any wind or road noise filtering through, let alone any squeaks or rattles. The problem however, is with the engine noise as you give it some heavy right foot. A heavy, tired and loud drone punctures the cabin’s silence in as the 1GD works with the automatic transmission, making it audible.
Performance isn’t a cause for concern though, as the 1GD picks up speed with ease. The engine revs pretty eagerly for a big diesel when the right foot calls for it. There are three driving modes available here – ECO, Normal & Power; each distinctively varying power delivery and throttle response. The 6-speeder automatic gearbox is smooth and effortless as well, with relatively quick shifts and well spaced gear ratios. Though it doesn’t have a creep function, it performs really well in traffic, and never gets confused. The torque converter also has a manual mode, wherein one can manually up- or down-shift using the shifter. In all, the unit turns out to be an effortless cruiser.
Start the lesser endowed 2GD engine, and the leather wrapped manual gear shifter does its trademark shuddery jig. The shifter could also have done with better ergonomics, as even for drivers with long arms, it is positioned a bit further away from usual – blame it on the huge cabin. Anyways, straightaway the 2GD strapped to the manual transmission felt more eager than its more powerful variant. Gear ratios on the Crysta are well spaced, and the engine doesn’t feel strained at everyday cruising speeds like it did on the older car. Clutch action is long, yet light, and there’s oodles of torque available anywhere in the power-band, making for effortless performance; a distinct Innova trait. Tractability is fantastic, especially in traffic, and though the difference in gross weight between the 2.8-AT and the 2.4-MT is just 20 kg, the latter felt more effervescent. Unlike the former, where engine noise can be an issue, the 2GD doesn’t shout or boom its way into the cabin. Its particularly fuel efficient as well, and driven with a light foot, it can actually deliver as much as 15 km/l in the real world! Gear shift quality isn’t seamless and felt rubbery, but we reckon things will improve with age. Right then, even though the older Innova performed really well, especially at being tractable, the Crysta still trumps it, particularly the 2.4-MT, the version that’ll see the most buyers.
Toyota Innova Crysta Ride quality and driving dynamics
The new Innova Crysta builds on the same body-on-ladder frame that the old Innova left off, bit stiffens it significantly with additional elements, allowing for a more rigid structure. The trade-off is extra weight, with the new Crysta weighing more than 200 kg more than the older model. Add a softer suspension set-up with longer dampers into the mix, and you get a cushier ride quality than before. It still wallows a bit around corners, but things have improved when compared to the outgoing model. There’s also some nose dive, and even though it’s softer to ride in than before, it doesn’t tackle bumps and expansion joints with the same nonchalance than say, a Tata Safari Storme.
The hydraulically operated steering rack is too heavy, especially at lower speeds. I don’t really see a lady parking this vehicle with grace. Also, the steering wheel size is bigger than average; maybe to counter the heaviness. It sheds some of that heaviness as speeds build up, but there is an annoying dead zone around the center which takes time getting used to. The 2.8-AT, as well as the 2.4-MT comes with 16-inch discs up front and drums at the back. Braking performance left nothing to complain about, as both ABS and EBD chimed in to haul down 2450 kg (gross; 2.8-AT) of Innova Crsyta with ease.
As for safety, the Crysta is pretty well kitted out with 7 airbags, stability/traction control, hill start assist control, 3-point front and rear seatbelts, along with a rear-view camera with guides.
Toyota Innova Crysta Verdict
The new Toyota Innova Crysta takes the game forward by not one, but an easy two levels. It feels more up market, is bigger and grander to look at than before, and as for interior space, comfort and refinement, it makes the older Innova feel like an older generation car. The 2.4-MT, surprisingly, won me over, rather the more powerful 2.8-AT. The lesser endowed version is also the one that’s destined to fly out of showrooms, with lower variants of it ready to hit the Indian highways once again wearing yellow plates. The improvements are so comprehensive that it had to skip a class, so it has to reflect on the price, which still remains a mystery. Watch this space as soon as the official prices are announced.
Toyota Innova vs Toyota Innova Crsyta pictorial comparison
Toyota Innova Crysta Mega Image Gallery