Published on January 24th, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota Innova, how it rocked when it first arrived

The first Toyota Innova arrived at a time when Malaysians were needing sensible, well priced, simple and safe family motoring for 7 persons. It ticked all the boxes and it was in its own little way perfect for family commuting. It never set the motoring world alight with its design or drive dynamics and still it sold like hot muffins on a cold evening in Cameron Highlands. It never won awards and it never was on the wish list of any motoring journalist. It was designed and built to appeal to those on a budget with the need to use all 7 seats on occasion. Time passed and the competition released some snazzy vehicles with better ride, handling and also interior features.

Toyota listened, watched and responded. This is the 2nd generation Innova and it has moved the goal posts forward and for this reason alone Toyota should be commended.

In the looks department, this new Innova now carries the signature Toyota family look…..the ‘Alphard’ nose as my neighbors remarked when I brought the vehicle home. The lines are sharper and with more chrome jewelry worked into the design, which Asian buyers like.

The cabin is really where the ‘wow’ factor comes to life as the improvements over the older version can be really appreciated by current Innova owners. Design is very upmarket, with features and material shared from the Camry sedan.

Seat design is better providing greater torso comfort and rear 2nd row seat comfort is very good with rear separate air-conditioning controls to keep 2nd and 3rd row passengers cool and composed in our humid weather conditions.

It feels sharper than many of its immediate rivals and drives far more like a large sedan than a people mover. The steering would benefit from a little more weight but this Innova does have excellent body control and stays composed at all speeds. This new Innova drives respectably well for a ladder-frame MPV. The rear-wheel drivetrain pushes it along smoothly, shifting gears quickly and smoothly all of the time. The body structure is quite stiff and free of the usual quivers common to body-on-frame chassis and the steering is boosted for my preferences, not too light with a nice feel. Those who frequently speed on the open highway will feel connected to the road with high-speed confidence building up.

The suspension is spot-on in comfort even when commuting in and around Petaling Jaya’s pot holed roads. Even with no passengers on board, it’s compliant over rough spots while rolling modestly in corners. While there’s no diesel engine option yet for Malaysia, the current 2.0L petrol has been awarded EEV status for its fuel sipping abilities.

With this Innova, significant upgrades in safety equipment are being offered. Active Safety systems that include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) with Hill-start Assist Control are available for the Innova G Variant. Additionally, up to 7-SRS airbags are provided for increased protection in the event of an accident and all variants include an airbag to protect the driver’s knees from injury during a frontal collision.

The body structure of this Innova has been strengthened with high tensile steel used in many areas. As a result of the improved structural strength and enhanced safety features, this Innova has been rated 5 stars for Adult Occupant Protection by ASEAN NCAP in January this year. The vehicle also recently received a Grand Prix Award (MPV category) for its highest points scored in Child Occupant Protection. The award recognises vehicles for their Crash Worthiness Performance in their respective vehicle segments.  This Innova comes with a 5-year warranty, subject to terms and conditions.

For now…..I do believe there is no direct challenger yet and it is a strong alternative for gray/used MPV buyers.


Toyota Innova 2.0L Specifications

Engine: Inline-4, DOHC, 16V, Dual VVT-i

Capacity: 1998cc

Max Power: 139PS @ 5600rpm

Max Torque: 183Nm @ 4000rpm

Gearbox: 6-speed Auto, FWD

Top Speed: 180km/h

0-100km/h: 10.0seconds

Price: RM126,000 as tested

(air conditioning vents on the roof top to keep the second and third row passengers cool)

 (third row seating is actually quite comfortable)

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