This road test of the 2012 Toyota Innova was uploaded on 9th Feb 2012
Toyota has ruled the MUV segment in India for a long time – more than a decade. When it first launched the Qualis, it changed the way we Indians looked at a family vehicle. It not only broke sales record in this segment, it set new benchmarks too. And then, the Innova took over and how! Indians finally found a comfortable, reliable and efficient family vehicle, one that could do both city commutes and highway trips. The base versions went well with the taxi segment too. Infact, Toyota ended the year 2011 by selling a record 5020 units in December 2011. However, the Japanese giant had something good in store for us at the 2012 Auto Expo when they raised the bar further by launching the face-lifted and loaded new 2012 Innova. The result was that in Jan 2012, 6794 Innovas were sold in India. Yes, that is an awful lot of numbers for a vehicle that has its top end version selling at over Rs 13 lakh. So, how good is the new 2012 Innova? Bunny Punia spends a couple of days with Toyota’s finest to reveal a few things right here!
The Innova has always looked good. It isn’t a sexy or a hot vehicle by any means but then a MUV is never supposed to be this way. What the Innova always has had are handsome, appealing and classy design lines, something that goes down pretty well with private buyers and big families. The new one simply improves on this fact. Up front, it doesn’t take too long to notice the changes. The almost almond type headlamps are replaced with more rectangular ones, which are of the wrap-around variety. These do remind us of the Altis/Camry sedan and this is a good thing. The grille is bigger, has more chrome and the bonnet too gets a slight face-lift – look at the front end from a distance and you the prominent and raised bonnet lines. Similarly, the front bumper is new with a wider air-dam and neatly placed fog lamps. Side profile remains unchanged (apart from the new side skirts) though at the rear, the tail lamps now get the clear lens treatment. Ofcourse, you can’t dismiss the ‘Innova’ embossed chrome garnish.
Go into the finer details and you also notice other subtle changes like new alloy wheels, OVRM mounted indicators, side skirting etc – all these do help in give a more up-market look and feel to a vehicle that is already the king here! Fit and finish and overall paint quality, as expected, is of the highest standard.
The new 2012 Innova measures 4525mm in length, 1760mm in width and 1760mm in height with a wheelbase of 2750mm. Our test model came shod with 205/65 tyres on 15-inch alloy wheels.
The Toyota Innova has been known for its roomy, practical and high quality interiors. This is supposed to be a family vehicle, a people mover and it does justify the MUV tag perfectly. As expected, the new version improves on this account, though not very significantly as the number of changes are pretty less and more on the lines of new features.
Step in and you immediately notice the first change. The steering wheel is all-new and similar to the one seen on the Altis sedan – it gets all the features too in the sense of steering wheel mounted controls for the audio system, Bluetooth connected mobile phone and driver information display. Look behind the wheel and the slightly different styled speedometer console catches your eyes too. Things don’t stop here – the top end 2012 Innova we drove gets a new touch screen system with multiple capabilities. It a double-DIN head unit with a DVD player, USB+Bluetooth connectivity as well as six speakers in all. Audio quality is pretty good and the system also doubles up a display for the reverse camera. The silver effect around the system looks good and along with the faux-wood gives a more up-market feel to the vehicle. It should be noted that is the same system seen on the new 2012 Fortuner as well.
The color treatment for the cabin has changed too. Plastics are now finished in a lighter hue of beige and the seats finished in dual tone colors. The comfort and practicality factors remain as high as ever though I still feel that the last row is not really suited for full sized adults. The new Innova is being in both 7 as well as 8 seat configurations. Boot space, with the three rows in place is best suited for mid-sized soft luggage bags.
One of the main reasons why the Innova is the preferred choice in the commercial segment is due to its bullet proof and boringly reliable D-4D engine. This 2.5-litre intercooler unit is a gem of a unit and simply goes on and on for lakhs of kilometres before needing any major maintenance. At the same time though, for extended highway trips, we have always found the Innova’s final drive ratio to be a little too short. No doubt, this does help in city driving but take the vehicle to the highway at speeds over 110km/h and it cries for a longer 5th gear or a new 6th one.
The new 2012 Toyota Innova is mechanically unchanged which means the overall power and torque figures too remain the same. This 102Bhp engine is refined, punchy and efficient. In city, the flow of torque at low engine speeds is very good and you can ponder in traffic in a higher gear even with a full load passengers and the air-con running. Driven sanely, the Innova returns around 11kmpl in city limits. The 5-speed gearbox is a joy to operate and though the throws are long, the shifts are smooth and positive. Engine sound, when cold, is a lot though with the windows rolled up, the NVH levels are pretty good.
The Innova also continues to sell with the 2.0-litre petrol engine and though this one sells in less numbers, the engine is very strong on performance.
A MUV is always thought of as a vehicle that doesn’t handle well and is not safe at high speeds. The Innova shatters this notion and how! This MUV is like a car to drive – in the way it provides comfort over bad roads and the way it feels during spirited driving on open roads. Slow speed ride with a single person on board is a little bouncy though the moment you build up speeds, the Innova simply glides over bad roads, undulations and pot-holes. Add to this the light steering and good visibility and this vehicle turns out to be a very good city companion.
Out on open roads, the Innova holds its own against the rivals. Be it high speed stability or handling manners on hilly roads, the Innova is car like to drive and simply doesn’t make the driver or the passengers nervous at any time. The top end model comes with ABS which is again a boon.
With adequate ground clearance and a torquey engine, the Innova also handles off-road section pretty well. I have been a witness to the older version completing the Gulf Monsoon Scooter rally – a section which is full of slush, tricky paths and deep sticky pot-holes!
The new Innova range starts at Rs 8.87 lakh (ex-Delhi) and this is where buyers tend to think twice. However, we say, no doubt the Innova is an expensive MUV to buy, it is still worth every penny. Look at it as an investment too – the vehicle has the best re-sale value in the segment by a huge margin. The maintenance costs are very low and unlike some of the rivals, you don’t need to care about the mechanicals for ages! The comfort and practicality factor is high and so is the overall quality. So, where do you tend to loose with this vehicle as a personal buy? Just the initial cost we think and that will be recovered easily when you sell the vehicle a few years down the line. You do pay more, but you back more (re-sale value in percentage as compared to other MUVs) as well. Add in the brand factor and the favours further tilt towards this Toyota. It gives you the practicality and space of a MUV with comfort, quality and features of a car.
The diesel range for the new 2012 Toyota Innova is priced from Rs 8.87 lakh to Rs 13.19 lakh while the petrol range is priced from Rs 9.38 to Rs 12.59 lakh, all prices being ex-showroom.