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Every other MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) cannot help but get measured against the Toyota Innova. As one of the very first MPVs in the country, it has set the bar pretty high and continues to do so. Sadly, that comes at a price, and the P1.754 million top-of-the-line V grade finds itself already as expensive as a few Fortuner variants.
Its body is not the most stylish in the market, certainly not more than the Xpander. It exudes a different aura — the kind that feels like an older responsible, dependable, and reliable brother. There is no fancy cladding around it, no exterior trim, and not even side skirts as an optional accessory. It does have essentials like LED projector-type halogen bulbs, LED daytime running lamps, and LED front fog lamps plus, side mirrors have a power-fold feature.
The façade is very well put together. It looks like pieces of a puzzle that perfectly fit — from the curves on the hood, headlamps design, and the chrome grille. The windshield angle, also called rake, is pretty high for an MPV for better aerodynamics.
At the back are a rear spoiler with a high-mount stop lamp, a shark’s fin antenna, and a relatively large window that makes it easier to see traffic coming up to the Innova.
An easy way to tell it apart from the other variants are the 17-inch alloy wheels.
It doesn’t scream expensive (even if it is) because of its understated styling and simple lines, but it has an innate beauty that grows on you. Its looks didn’t make much of an impression the first couple of days, but it grew on me before the week ended.
The smart entry system of the Innova is not as intuitive as the Camry, RAV4, or a few other Toyotas. It will only unlock when the handle button is clicked. It is a minor detail, but hopefully it gets passed down for higher ease of use.
Roominess is one of the Innova’s great features that is evident even from the front row. There is a good amount of headroom, and even with a center console, there is still plenty of elbow room to go around.
I expected leather upholstery and power seats in the cabin, but for now, it gets Noble Brown fabric and manual adjustments. Captain’s seats (with slide, recline, and one-touch tumble feature) in the second row are unique to this trim and are one of the reasons I love this seven-seater variant a lot. Third-row seats have a ‘one-touch easy space up’ feature, but I would prefer that it tucks flat into the floor for cargo space.
There aren’t any padded surfaces on the dashboard, but the cockpit feels premium because of the silver trims, faux wood accent, and the horizontal orientation of the climate controls. Then there is the second-row overhead console with extra air-conditioning controls that keeps the rest of the interior cool.
I like the shade and depth of the instrument panel as it makes the digits and markers look vivid. Passengers will also appreciate the tray tables on the second row. If there’s something it needs more of, that will be USB ports. It only has one, and it’s even positioned right on the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay).
All Innovas share a 2.8-liter diesel engine with a variable nozzle turbo. The 174-PS isn’t lightning on the streets, but just a little extra throttle pressure, and it will breeze by average traffic. It doesn’t have quick acceleration as the six-speed automatic transmission is inclined to use the 360 Nm of torque for cargo pulling and carrying. Average fuel consumption in mixed driving conditions is 15.3 km/l.
Handling feel is weighted, maybe a little more than I wanted, but I love holding the leather & wood multi-function steering wheel. It felt thick in my hands and easy to grip.
The wishbone with coil spring front and four-link with coil spring rear suspension are terrific. Even with the vehicle’s healthy ground clearance, it sashayed around corners smoothly and was pretty well-balanced. There is a hint of stiffness to the ride, but it’s barely noticeable, and could even be mistaken as crossover-like.
I mentioned a few things the Innova lacks that make you wonder why it is priced so high. Toyota needs to make those standard in the next-gen unit to keep the competition honest. More and more MPVs are coming that are more appointed, yet cheaper.
Despite its shortcomings, it is a trusted name with outstanding durability and performance. That is why it continues to be the benchmark of MPVs in the country regardless of price and provisions.
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