Since 2004, the Innova has been the winning recipe in the MPV segment, unifying the looks of a modern minivan with a versatile seven-seater layout, the efficiency of modern commonrail diesel or smoothness of VVT-i gas engines, as well as the long-term durability of body-on-frame construction.
Truth be told, Toyota didn’t have to build an all new Innova, but they did it anyway. After spending some time with this Innova 2.0G, I can easily say that it’s much better than we expected.
The new model is far sleeker than before, using many of Toyota’s newer design cues such as the grille that seamlessly integrates with the headlights and blends fully with the shape of the front air intake. The rear is neat, expecially with the unusual taillamps; this Innova is definitely edgier in the design department.
The new Innova is also clearly longer, wider, and taller than its predecessor. The platform is new and improved, utilizing many of the lessons learned from the previous 11 years of the Innova, though the wheelbase is exactly the same.
If there’s one aspect that the Innova has improved by leaps and bounds, it’s the interior. Toyota has clearly stepped up their MPV’s game in terms of appointments, features, and luxury. The design used on the dashboard, the interior door panels and even the ceiling have definitely come a long way; if anything, they are now comparable to more expensive Toyota models. There are even shades of Lexus in there.
Climate control is standard on this G variant, and there are vents on the ceiling for the rear passengers. Steering wheel buttons are fully integrated and not an add-on like on the previous Innova. The AVT 2-DIN head unit is standard, and has certainly leveled up in terms of interface and functionality. There are cupholders on the driver and passenger side A/C vents to keep a drink cool, while the upper glove box has a vent to cool drinks as well.
The Innova G now seats eight instead of seven; two in the front, three in the middle and the back. The second row is actually a very nice place to be in for a long drive, thanks to that folding center armrest and small folding tray tables mounted on the backrest of the front seats. You do have to be mindful that the rear occupants will tend to have limited knee room.
I particularly liked how Toyota improved on the ease of folding the third row. Toyota designed the holding strap to clip onto the D pillar instead of the grab handles like before. Also, that third row is spring loaded, so it folds up with barely an effort.
The 2.0L gasoline engine is a carryover from the previous Innova, which was kind of odd; they improved so much but retained the powerplant. Still, the 1TR-FE is a decent motor, offering 136 bhp and matched with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. I do have my doubts about the torque, because at 135 lb ft, it’s going to have a challenging time moving a heavier vehicle that can now carry eight occupants.
As a town tooler, the Innova works well, especially with its good suspension. As expected, the engine has to be motivated a bit to get the Innova moving. It’s not quick by any means, but it’s quiet and smooth. Being a body-on-frame MPV, you can easily traverse most road debris or obstacles with the ground clearance of the Innova.
One thing that the Innova 2.0G could use a bit of an improvement on is fuel economy. In moderate to heavy traffic (17 km/h average), the Innova clocks in at 6.4 km/l with Eco Mode. That improves up to 7.6 when traffic gets lighter (20 km/h average) and on the highway at 12.2 km/l (87 km/h average) but still, it could be better.
On an uphill, the driver can activate Power Mode to get going, but it does sacrifice fuel consumption to do so. On a downhill, it’s all good; the handling and braking are decent for its size and weight. Still, if you drive up mountains on a regular basis, the diesel is the way to go.
The only question that remains is pricing: this 2.0G is priced at PhP 1,232,000. Sure, the 2.0 gasoline may not be great, but it’ll be very inexpensive to maintain long term. As it stands, the Innova is still the class leader that we expected it to be. It won’t impress in terms of fuel economy or performance, but customers will certainly appreciate the superb leaps made where it matters most: design, quality, and comfort.
ENGINE: Inline-4, 1998cc dohc 16V, VVT-i, 6-speed AT
MAX POWER: 136 bhp @ 5600 rpm
MAX TORQUE: 135 lb ft @ 4000 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 11.2 sec.
TOP SPEED: 180 km/h (est.)
FUEL MILEAGE: 6.4 km/l City / 12.2 km/l Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: PhP 1,232,000
+: Excellent build quality, smooth, high levels of comfort
-: Needs a diesel for better power and fuel economy
C! RATING: 9/10