|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Blessed with the V badge, this Innova is the highest trim level of the entire line-up. Largely, it’s the Innova for social climbers who refuse to be associated with the hoi polloi and their more pedestrian E or G trimmed models. It’s the MPV of choice for those who’d rather be caught dead eating at Burger King than Jollibee. That said, you can’t tell the V apart from the rest of the Innova line except for the solitary badge at the back. It’s something elitists won’t like, but the rest of the car buying public will. Toyota’s been pretty restrained in going hog-wild with the Innova’s design and that’s a very good thing. It still remains nicely proportioned and modern looking even if the latest iteration’s a love-it-or-hate-it affair visually. Personally, the enlarged grille and new front bumpers create a more striking presence that’s much better appreciated in person although the added garnish at the back does indeed look a bit tacky no matter how you look at it.
While the Innova V doesn’t look that radically different from the outside, it’s the inside that grabs the headlines. Crack the door open and you’re greeted by the familiar whiff of leather, café-colored leather seats at that. Likewise, the steering wheel and shift knob are also covered in cowhide. It’s hard to fault the choice of leather in the Innova—it’s soft but durable enough for the long haul; very similar to the ones they install in the range-topping Fortuner. However, those with messy toddlers will cringe at the light palette which is hard to keep clean. After just two weeks of use, color transfer will occur between dark jeans and the seats, so imagine how it will be after years of use. Aside from the leather seats, the V also gets rather convincing faux wood trim.
All this talk of wood and leather won’t convince your purveyor of luxury unless the subject of seating comes into play. Like upgrading from Economy to Business Class, the Innova swaps its second row bench seats for two individual Captain’s Seats. This move produces both positive and negative effects, though personally, they’re mostly negative. On one hand, it gives unparalleled comfort with individual sliding and reclining options. The arm rests also provide an excellent respite for the busy executive. However, the practical-minded will note a reduction in the Innova’s seating capacity from 8 to 7. It also makes entry to the third row much more difficult as these seats do not fold or tumble. And those who use their Innovas as a light-duty business vehicle will find the loss of cargo flexibility a bit discontenting considering the perfect size of this MPV.
Aside from these changes though, the V is equipped pretty much like the G variant. Don’t expect a bamboozle of luxury tech like HID headlamps or headrest-mounted monitors or a back-up camera. Instead, you’ll encounter Innova mainstays like the LED backlit gauges, front climate control and rear air conditioning, a multi-function computer, and back-up sensors. The biggest change for 2014 is the addition of a touchscreen entertainment system with a full array of inputs and Bluetooth hands-free and GPS navigation from whom else, but AVT. And like most systems they design, they washout at the slightest hint of sunshine and produce a laggy response at best. Sometimes you’ll miss the good, old Fujitsu Ten radio.
Mechanically, the Innova’s little changed since it first launched 9 years ago. Under the hood, it’s still powered by the 2.5-liter D-4D common rail turbo diesel engine. Without the benefit of a variable geometry turbo, it still makes do with a 102 horsepower, 260 Nm output. It sounds like a blender full of gravel, but pulls remarkably well. It’s largely smooth and torquey and can make quick work of accelerating the Innova even with a full complement of passengers on board. Fuel efficiency is quite good, averaging 9.09 km/L in the city after two weeks of use. The 4-speed automatic is also well suited with smooth, unobtrusive shifts. It’s also ready to kick down a gear on command.
The Innova may not look like a body-on-frame vehicle, but underneath it shares its platform with the Hilux pick-up truck and the Fortuner SUV (the IMV Project, remember?). Sharing chassis is nothing new, of course; but what is remarkable is how Toyota tuned the Innova for a much more compliant ride than its pick-up or SUV cousins. The low speed ride is holding up to the test of time and it’s very resistant to potholes. The body shudders a bit on uneven roads, but that’s mostly because of the third row seats which are anchored crudely with a hook on the grab bars. On the highways, the Innova is very stable with controlled wind noise. The steering is truck-like with its vague feel and the need for a lot of turns from lock-to-lock. Still, the Innova remains a great MPV with its tall eye height and the ability to safety traverse through 500 millimeters of water.
The Innova is by no means a sports sedan or luxury cruiser, and it has no pretensions of being either. Yet despite its age, it’s still winningly refined and commendable as a practical way of transporting the family. As enticing and solidly executed as the Innova V is, it’s hard to recommend this for the social climbers, much less the upper crust of society wanting a new family vehicle because of one thing: the price. The 2.5V is now pegged at P 1,261,000—putting it within shooting distance of other 7-seater SUVs or even 5-seater compact crossovers. Perhaps in lesser trims, the Toyota Innova remains a great and convincing buy for a family car. In the case of the V variant though, the case may not be as convincing.
2014 Toyota Innova 2.5 V
|Ownership||2014 Toyota Innova 2.5 V|
|Vehicle Classification||Entry-Level MPV|
|Body Type||5-door MPV|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Common Rail Direct Injection, Turbocharged|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||102 @ 3,600|
|Nm @ rpm||260 @ 1,600-2,400|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,670|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||4-Link with Coil Spring|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Wood/Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 50/50 third row|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|