Toyota launched the Innova in 2004 and till date the vehicle has not received any major upgrades. There have been two small facelifts (one in 2009, while the other in 2011). Toyota launched the Innova in India in 2005, replacing the aging Qualis. While some of you would say if it ain’t broken, why fix it but we feel that Toyota is leveraging the lack of competition to not bother with improving the Innova. There is alot of scope with improving the Toyota Innova, which as of today is priced at an insane Rs. 15.37 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai) for the 2.5-litre VX, 8-seater variant.
The Toyota Innova is powered by a 2.0-litre, VVT-i, DOHC petrol engine which produces 132 PS of power at 5600 RPM and 181 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. The diesel engine is a 2500cc, D-4D, DOHC unit which produces 102 PS of power at 3600 RPM and 200 Nm of torque between 1400-3400 RPM. Both the engines are mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. These engines do the job very well and give the Toyota Innova good performance along with excellent fuel economy numbers. The diesel Innova returns around 10 km/l in regular city driving, while the petrol Innova returns 7 km/l in similar conditions.
The latest facelift for the Toyota Innova which was launched in India at the 2012 Auto Expo is not really something you would call impressive. The head lights have become smaller and the side profile remains almost unchanged (except for the new alloy wheels). The rear is so similar as the old model, that we feel this facelift was done for the sake of it. On the inside, some chrome has been thrown around on the dashboard, while the Innova now features Camry’s steering wheel. With these changes, Toyota got the opportunity to revise the prices of the Innova upwards, which has not really affected the buyers as many fleet operators use the vehicle, contributing to a major chunk of Innova sales.
But we still feel that Toyota is taking the Innova lightly by not giving it any major upgrades in the past 8 years. On the other hand, the company’s famous models like the Camry and Corolla have seen significant revisions. In today’s day and age, a vehicle goes through an all new model change in around 4-5 years of time but the same not happening to the Toyota Innova is baffling. Toyota could afford to not bother as the Innova has enjoyed monopoly status for a long time. But things are about to change as Nissan plans to launch the Evalia, Maruti Suzuki plans to launch the Ertiga and Ford could bring in an MPV in the same segment. Furthermore the Mahindra XUV500 offers so much more at a cheaper price but is not available off the shelf, which is preventing the latest Mahindra from eating into sales of the Innova.
What could Toyota do to improve the Innova? Here are a few suggestions. Improve the clutch, which gives away quite easily. Increase power and torque by improving the engine in terms of overall grunt and refinement. The air-conditioning can be improved and the brakes can be made sharper. The manual antenna can be replaced by a center mounted antenna and the wipers should be changed to twin blade ones. Safety systems like traction control and curtain airbags can be offered on the top end variants.