“Total makeover” from a ladder frame chassis rear-wheel drive to a monocoque front-wheel drive; updated hybrid technology with a range of convenient features and cutting-edge features. This is how the Toyota Innova HyCross is trying to reclaim the throne.

Toyota Innova – a name that is very familiar in the Vietnamese market and probably needs no introduction. At its peak, Innova dominated the under 1 billion VND MPV segment for many years.

The Toyota model is known for its spaciousness that can comfortably accommodate 7 passengers, comfortable and reliable operation. These advantages have made Innova easily win over customers since its launch in 2006 and build strong trust among users.

At its peak, Innova can be said to be the “money-making machine” of Toyota. However, when the “storm” of cheap MPVs with the Mitsubishi Xpander as the eye of the storm swept through, the Toyota Innova quickly lost its competitive edge and gave up the throne to its fellow models and gradually faded into oblivion.

This is why in the upcoming launch of the new generation of products, Toyota has made comprehensive improvements and changes – with a new name: Innova HyCross (known as Innova Cross in the Vietnamese market) – hoping to change the game and regain the crown. Let’s see how experts in India think about this car.

Firstly, in terms of design, it must be acknowledged that Toyota engineers have been very successful in refreshing the Innova. In the new generation, the car features a more modern and youthful design, but overall, customers can still easily recognize the shape of the Innova – the former king.

The new Toyota Innova HyCross still has a SUV-style design, with increased dimensions compared with the previous generation. Specifically, the new version is longer and wider by 20mm, while the wheelbase has increased by 100mm.

The main LED headlights are designed in a modern style. The hexagonal chrome grille is the most eye-catching detail on the front of the car. The lower bumper is adorned with a LED fog light strip placed low. The fake air vents on both sides have a bright fishing line.

Along the sides of the car, the Toyota Innova HyCross uses 18-inch wheels with dual-tone silver gunmetal 5-spoke aluminum wheels, but they lack attractiveness.

The tire configuration is 255/50R18, giving a modest and uncomfortable feeling, not proportional to the car’s stature. Toyota should use larger tires (smaller sidewalls and larger treads), although this will increase the turning radius – which is also a notable point.

The side windows in the first and second rows are very large, while the third-row seats have quite modest windows. The new generation Innova also has a shark fin-style antenna on the roof, but lacks a roof rack.

At the rear of the car, the design of the LED taillights and the trunk lid are quite similar to many other Toyota models, typical of which is the Corolla Cross. Below, the exhaust pipes are also neatly hidden behind the rear diffuser.

In the new generation, Toyota Innova HyCross is developed based on the global TNGA-C chassis platform, which is shared with the Corolla Cross. Thanks to this, the weight of the car has been reduced by 200kg compared to the diesel automatic version in the previous generation.

Also thanks to this complete “makeover,” the cabin space of the new generation Innova HyCross has become more spacious. Therefore, getting in and out of the seats is easier and more convenient for passengers on all three rows.

The interior of the new generation Innova has undergone a “transformation” in terms of design, materials, and colors. The car is garnished with many softer rubber panels, and the seats and armrests are wrapped in attractive brown leather.

The saddle assembly has been made in one piece with the dashboard, creating a vertically arranged control center area, including an entertainment screen, air conditioning unit, gear lever, and electronic handbrake.

In the driver’s area, Toyota Innova HyCross features a large-size, eye-catching color display ODO. The steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters and full-featured convenience and safety driving support along both edges.

The overall feel inside the car is a more upscale, modern, and convenient atmosphere compared to the previous generation product. The screen is larger and more numerous, but at the same time, the mechanical buttons are still retained for easy operation without distraction.

Wireless charging is provided as an option. The front air conditioner is of the dual-zone independent type, and the front seats have cooled backs. Even the front passenger seat can be electrically adjusted with 2 convenient and comfortable preset positions – which was considered extravagant in the previous generation of products.

Toyota Innova HyCross also offers an intriguing entertainment package, with a 10.1-inch touchscreen that integrates wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections, JBL “branded” sound system, soundproof dark tinted windows, and even a 360-degree camera.

What’s more, Toyota even equips Innova HyCross with an ADAS technology package, including useful features such as blind-spot warning – rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, intelligent headlights/taillights.

Toyota Innova HyCross comes with two engine configurations: First is the naturally aspirated 2.0L gasoline engine producing a maximum output of 174 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and a peak torque of 205 Nm in the rev range of 4,500 – 9,000 rpm.

Second is the hybrid powertrain, including a 2.0L 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a maximum output of 152 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 187.3 Nm in the rev range of 4,400 – 5,200 rpm. This engine is combined with a strong 113-horsepower and 206 Nm electric motor, giving the Toyota Innova Hybrid 2023 a total output of 186 horsepower.

Real-world driving experience shows that the Innova HyCross still has the smooth start-up capability of other hybrids like the Corolla Cross, Altis, or Camry HEV. According to Toyota representatives, if driven normally in the city, the car can achieve up to 50-60% driving time in pure electric mode.

When the electric system intervenes, the Toyota Innova HyCross provides an exciting throttle response. The car’s acceleration capability is also impressive: 0-100 km/h in 9.5 seconds.

All acceleration operations take place smoothly and easily. When accelerating, the car does not emit a “whine” sound from the engine like the previous turbo diesel versions. However, the e-CVT gearbox is still difficult to “smooth” except for the advantages of smoothness and silence. Passengers will easily become uncomfortable if the driver presses the throttle to overtake on the highway.

With the new chassis platform and increased wheelbase, the Toyota Innova HyCross has lower center of gravity, making it more balanced and less prone to body roll. The car can confidently and smoothly negotiate corners. However, the tires are somewhat “harsh,” exposing weaknesses that reduce the driving experience. On the other hand, it absorbs noise well, especially in the second and third rows of seats.

Switching from hydraulic power steering to electric power steering also makes steering the Innova in and out of parking spaces or in tight urban areas much easier and more flexible than the previous generation.

In conclusion, the Toyota Innova HyCross is a comprehensive and synchronized transformation in terms of design, equipment, and performance. The car has become friendlier, more luxurious, modern, and convenient than the previous version.

The only obstacle that Innova has to face is the fierce price erosion wave in every segment. Moreover, the Japanese MPV will also have to face a very strong competitor from South Korea, the Hyundai Custo – which has also recently entered the market.

Anh Phan (Tuoitrethudo)

Source: AutoCar India