Cars Toyota Innova Zenix

Published on November 27th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota Innova Zenix 2.0L Test Drive Review In Malaysia

Is this new Innova able to continue its segment leadership?

When Toyota Asia Pacific announced late last year the arrival of an all new Innova, many older Innova owners were ready to trade-in their family workhorse for a new workhorse as the Innova from its humble beginnings four decades ago as the Indonesian ‘Kijang’ and ASEAN ‘Unser’ has been a class best reliable family vehicle.

This time around, Toyota has decided on a name extension and this 2023 model Innova is now called the Innova Zenix. The name Innova comes from work ‘innovate’ and the name Zenix comes from the word Zenith which means peak performance.

Also new this time is a hybrid variant for the Innova. It is powered by a 5th gen Hybrid Electric powertrain that consists of a 2.0L Dynamic Force petrol fed engine and a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor.

This powertrain is good for 186PS and power gets sent to the wheels via an E-CVT. This Dynamic Force engine in this application is extremely efficient, achieving 41 percent thermal efficiency thanks to the D4-S system and the Atkinson cycle. This hybrid powertrain comes with a self-charging 6.5 Ahr nickel-metal hydride battery.

The Hybrid version is also a 7 seater vehicle and is priced at a lofty RM202k. Yes, its expensive because it is imported from Indonesia.

This is why we are test driving the 8 seater version which uses a normal aspirated 2.0L Dynamic Force petrol fed engine with an output of 174PS and 205Nm of torque. This engine is mated to a new 10-speed Direct Shift CVT with sequential shiftmatic. This version retails for RM165k which is RM37k less than the hybrid version.

The previous fast selling Toyota Innova was powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol fed engine that produced 139 PS and 183 Nm of torque, this reasonable amount of power was sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed Super ECT automatic transmission. It was priced from RM111k to RM129k which raised eyebrows at the time, but was still in the budget range of many Malaysians.

The Rivals

Now with this latest Zenix version, the asking price of RM165k puts it out of range for many Malaysians and this is why you don’t see that many on our roads right now. Plus, at this price is competes directly with the all new 7 seater Chery Tiggo 8 Pro SUV priced at RM159,800 and the popular Proton X90 which has a RM152,800 asking price.

The Impression

Styled and engineered to target the large SUV market preferences that are prevalent in Malaysia the Innova Zenix breaks with convention. An MPV at heart but a Crossover vehicle in style, the Zenix brings an element of excitement to Toyota family vehicle buyers.

Despite being a humble MPV from the first model decades ago, this Innova Zenix is no longer on a ladder frame, no longer rear wheel drive and instead has SUV like features. With muscular wheel arches and a wider profile, the front design of the new Toyota Innova is heavily inspired from the popular Corolla Cross, featuring a larger hexagonal-shaped front grille finished in contrast black with chrome treatment.

It comes with wrap-around LED projector headlamps with a new set of daytime running lamps at the top edge just like with the popular Toyota Veloz.

The Cabin

Once behind the steering wheel, the driving position is high and outward visibility is very good. The cabin controls were the easiest and most intuitive to operate, just the way Toyota designers wanted it for ASEAN customers.

It also has a 360-degree parking camera and USB-C ports around the vehicle. Toyota did not short change here in terms of standard equipment. You get auto up-down power windows all around, ambient lighting, leather upholstery, roof mounted air-con vents for all three rows and a lot of practical amenities. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the new 10.1-inch head unit is also present here which is an important feature to have over direct rival Proton X90.

The driver gets an easy to use and read 7″ Colour TFT Multi-Information Display.

The biggest strength here is the third row of seats. It’s the most accessible and flexible in the Toyota Innova Zenix. The 2nd row tilts forward and slides very far forward, there are wide areas to step allowing easy entry and exit with grab handles on all three rows to aid.

The third row here also has 3 seatbelts and headrests, though it’s likely only children will be able to sit 3 abreast. Still, the only one that can legally seat 3 in the back.

The Innova Zenix offers the best in-class safety features, powered by the all-new Toyota Safety Sense 3.0.

The Drive

Well from ignition it is a responsive and quiet engine. The cabin is very well insulated and built to a high standard. Accelerate slowly and this Zenix just glides along, hammer the accelerator and the engine returns a buttery smooth progress. The 10-speed gearbox is a smooth operator.

With good gear ratios, this gearbox makes the ride energetic and the average fuel consumption meagre. Front passengers will be comfortable with seats that are well bolstered and soft and the rear passengers will have enough legroom and shoulder room, even if there are three adults in the rear 3rd row. 

Toyota Innova Zenix 2.0L Specification

Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC

Capacity: 1,987cc

Transmission: 10-Speed CVT With Shiftmatic

Max Power: 174hp @ 6,600rpm

Max Torque: 205Nm @ 4,500-4,900rpm

Price: RM165,000.00

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