Our market has a rather funny reaction when it comes to MUVs or people movers. In the past, Indians have traditionally shunned MUVs – as a result of which the segment has posted moderate sales numbers at best.
However, there are always exceptions to every rule – and such is the case with the Toyota Innova in our market. Brought in as a replacement to the fairly successful Qualis, the Innova immediately caught the fancy of consumers and has been the best-selling product for Toyota in India. In fact, there are thousands who fanatically swear by the Innova for their daily use. And despite it being around for well over a decade, and now looking decidedly long in the tooth, they wouldn’t choose any other car.
So, with the new Innova Crysta, Toyota is looking to build further on the kind of goodwill and brand equity that the Innova has built over the years. Of course, the new Innova gets significant improvements. There are new engine options – 2.4 and 2.8-litre diesel units, as well as a 2.7 petrol option – major changes in the styling, inside and out, and the option of an automatic gearbox. Most of these changes were much needed, as the earlier Innova was now antiquated and beginning to look its age. Moreover, with its 2.5-litre diesel engine, it wasn’t a car that we particularly looked forward to driving.
However, this changes immediately with the new car. Not only does it have sharp, aggressive and a much more assertive design, which moves it a notch up from traditional people movers, but, with its brand new interiors, it raises the game for the whole segment with a newly designed dash and improved multimedia interface. The quality of the plastics, seats and other aspects of the interiors have also been completely upgraded, and the Innova now feels like a premium vehicle rather than a budget daily runabout – which it used to feel like earlier. In fact, in the upper end versions, the leather seats and the suede door pads give it a distinct feeling of luxury. However, there is one gripe that we have with the climate control readout on the centre console – due to its angle, it’s impossible to read in direct sunlight.
The driving manners of the Innova Crysta are also a revelation, as the new car now drives more like a car and less like an MUV. With the new suspension setup and chassis rigidity, body control is much improved compared with the old car. This one deals with bad roads far better, and is much better planted at high speeds. Combine this with the new seats, and the new engine and gearbox, and it makes covering hundreds of kilometres in the Crysta an incredibly easy task.
Overall, with its combination of striking looks, massively upgraded interiors and equipment count, as well as improvements in both comfort and driving manners, the Innova Crysta seems set to dominate its segment – as it has done for years already. Sure, with its premium pricing it does lose out on the value-for-money front – but with the overall package substantially upgraded, it makes the cut for our Best of 2016 roster.