The Innova is by far the most successful product to ever roll out of Toyota India, period. It's an MPV that never had any competition. It created a segment and has continued to dominate it for more than a decade. From large families to fleet operators, the Innova has changed the way Indians define travel. However, we've been waiting for a full model replacement for some time now. While the Innova continues to sell in high numbers, the folks at Toyota started developing an all-new model almost five years ago. They took their time and have finally readied the new Innova Crysta. The MPV goes on sale in India by early May 2016. We've just driven the Crysta extensively in India to find out if it's a worthy successor.
The Innova Crysta looks a lot more premium when compared to its predecessor both inside and out
The Toyota Innova Crysta looks a lot more premium compared to the outgoing Innova. The styling is similar to Toyota models available internationally. It follows the same sharp design theme. There are large headlamps that house projector headlights. The chrome strips inside the lamp neatly flow into the upper section of the front grille like we've seen in the Corolla. The large front grille is part of the new Toyota family face and follows a hexagonal pattern. This new design has been seen in the Camry and will soon adorn almost every new Toyota in the future. The imposing grille adds to the Crysta's presence. The indicators and fog lamps sit together in the lower section of the bumper and also receive chrome detailing. The hood is higher and sculpted aggressively.
The silhouette of the Crysta reminds one of the previous Innova but then again, it still is an MPV. The sides are rather flat and there aren't many definition lines. The overall length has increased by 180mm, mostly in the longer overhangs - the wheelbase hasn't changed. The quarter window is cut diagonally - it reminds me of the Mitsubishi Outlander - and it is the only design highlight when viewed from the side. 17-inch wheels are much larger (15-inchers on the old one) than before and fill up the wheel arch well.
Large 17-inch wheels are offered standard in the top variants
Move to the rear of the Crysta and just like the front, it's a distinctive design. The major part of the sharply styled tail lamps are horizontally placed but there's also a V-shaped unit flowing downwards that houses the indicators. It's a rather large lamp and takes up quite a bit of the tailgate area. This makes the rear end look a bit narrower though the vehicle's width has increased by 80mm. There's also a large rear spoiler and a shark fin antenna that goes well with the flow of the roofline. Overall the Innova Crysta reminds one of the earlier car but is a lot more stylish and current in terms of design.
The multi-layered cockpit features quality materials that have been incorporated very well
Step inside the Crysta, and it's a different world. It's obvious that the Toyota designers spent a lot of time designing a modern and premium interior. The multi-layered cockpit features quality materials that have been incorporated very well. The top variant you see here gets various materials that includes faux-wood, gloss black inserts as well as plastic bits in a brushed aluminium finish. The upper part of the dashboard isn't flat anymore and it looks more upmarket. The slim air vents sit between the curved and middle section and still offer impressive ventilation. A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen takes up the centre section, while the climate control switches sit below, angled up towards the occupants. This also helps one rest the hand while operating the touchscreen.
Leather wrapped steering wheel looks premium
The steering wheel also follows the premium theme and is wrapped in leather and has a glossy faux wood upper section a la Camry. Clever design additions are openable bottle holders that sit in front of the air vents and an additional cooled upper glovebox.
The infotainment system includes comprehensive trip information
Instrumentation is clear. It features a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display only in the top variants. The driver sees a ton of information including trip info, car settings, navigation and audio/phone data.
Depending on the variant, the Toyota Innova Crysta gets brown or black upholstery. The door panels get a matching suede/cloth wrap for the armrests. While it looks unique and stylish, we aren't sure if it will last long. Besides the brown shade is prone to get dirty over time. Toyota has made sure that they increase the front seat size. They are firm and proved to be quite comfortable even after a 10 hour drive. However, thigh support isn't adequate.
The cabin continues to be spacious but offers more comfort. Note ambient lighting on the roofliner
Since a lot of Innovas are chauffeur-driven, a lot of effort has gone into making the middle section of the cabin a lot more luxurious and comfortable. The rear passenger can now adjust the front co-driver seat manually while the middle seats tumble forward in one single step by simply pulling a lever. The door pads get more detailing at the rear. There are also foldable trays behind the front seats while knee room has improved slightly.
The roof gets ambient lighting in the front and middle sections to give the interior a lounge like feel. We haven't seen this even in luxury cars! This feature is offered standard only in the top variants. One can also control the brightness of the ambient light or turn it off completely. Rear AC vents are standard and gain a new LCD temperature readout. Third row seats are an Innova signature. These seats now offer slightly better comfort too but is still better suited for children.
The Crysta offers upto 22 bottle holders, each door pad can hold three full size bottles
Bottle holders for the middle row passengers can be folded away neatly
Pop holders can not only hold cups but also a bottle. The Ac vents help cool the contents in less than an hour
Foldable tray serves as a snack table or a mobile work bench
The Innova Crysta offers a lot of storage options. In fact, the MPV can hold a staggering 22 large bottles. This is possible because each door pad can hold three bottles each. The bottle holders placed in front of the air vents have been seen before in other cars - Honda's Jazz tops that list. But the Innova Crysta's are the best we've come across so far. It not only holds a large bottle, the air-conditioner actually cools a warm water bottle in less than an hour.
300-litre boot is same as before
While the Crysta is longer than the outgoing Innova, the wheelbase is still the same. As a result cabin space is more or less similar. We expected boot space to increase but the Crysta offers an identical 300-litre boot capacity with the third-row seats in use.
The India-spec Innova Crysta gets two all-new engine options. The 2.4-litre and 2.8-litre DOHC common-rail diesels will be offered with a 5-speed manual and 6-speed automatic respectively. The BSIV ready engines produce a segment highest 150PS and 174PS at 3400rpm. Peak torque, meanwhile, is an equally impressive 343Nm (1,400-2,800rpm) and 360Nm (1,200-3,400rpm). That's equal and more torque, respectively, than the 3.0-litre Toyota Fortuner! The power and torque increase is a massive 45-50 percent! So despite the gain in kerb weight by about 200kg, the power to weight ratio is higher than before.
All-new 2.4 -litre GD with MT and 2.8-litre GD engine with AT make their debut in India
We drove both the variants and found the power delivery to be noticeably better immediately. The 2.4-litre 2GD-FTV is a lot more refined compared to its 2.5-litre predecessor and power delivery is more linear thanks to reduced turbo lag. There is a strong surge after 2,500rpm and power is produced all the way until 4,000rpm. While we couldn't test if the Crysta is quicker but it definitely felt like it. The 5-speed manual transmission has well-spaced ratios and makes good use of the torque on offer. Gearshifts however could have been smoother. The throws are much shorter and more car like now, a solid improvement. Gear lever vibration has reduced but it very much exists.
The 5-speed manual transmission has well-spaced ratios and makes good use of the torque on offer
The 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV meanwhile felt slightly more refined and displayed lower NVH levels. This engine gets added power and torque but didn't feel noticeably quicker. One of the reasons being the 6-speed automatic. It isn't as responsive as the 5-speed manual transmission. Roll-on performance, however, felt quicker but we can only confirm this after a road test. The automatic even gets sequential manual shifts but paddle shifters are not going to be offered. The transmission also gets an S mode that basically moves shift points to much higher up the rev range.
Both engines feature three driving modes Normal, Eco and Power. Power delivery is noticeably different in every mode. We ended up driving in normal mode for the majority of the drive. On our drive to Goa, the Innova Crysta cruised effortlessly at speeds over 120kmph. We couldn't test top speed but both the variants will cross 160kmph on the speedometer.
The Innova Crysta continues to use the body-on-frame chassis part of Toyota's new generation architecture developed especially for the Innova, Hilux and Fortuner. This new chassis is more rigid than before and is slightly heavier as well. The suspension has been upgraded too and gets stronger springs. The suspension and the new chassis has improved ride quality but it can still be a bit harsh over speedbreakers and potholes. Body roll has reduced and the hydraulic steering is sharper and lighter to operate. Steering weight at parking speeds, though, is on the heavier side. Ground clearance also seems to be higher than before - Toyota didn't have a number for us at press time.
Passenger airbag can be turned off, in case you have a little child seated on it
Push button start stop will feature in the top variants
Power seat adjust for the driver
As expected, the Innova Crysta's feature list is much longer now. The Crysta will be available in six variants and six colour options. All variants get ABS, driver, passenger and a driver knee airbag as standard. Automatic up and down power windows are standard. The top variant also gets curtain airbags, electrically adjustable driver seat, keyless entry, push start/stop ignition, cruise control and 17-inch alloys wheels to name a few features.
While we do know that the Innova Crysta is a big step up from the outgoing model, what we don't know as yet is the price. We expect Toyota to price the MPV from Rs 15.5 lakh to Rs 19 lakh, ex-Mumbai, roughly Rs 2 lakh more than the current Innova's prices. The new Crysta will retire the current Innova and replace it. If the price is right, the Crysta has the potential to continue its domination for many more years to come.
Images by Suresh Narayanan