The Toyota Innova was first launched in India back in 2005 and since then the Innova has built a strong name for itself by proving its reliability and practicality. Over the years Innova has dominated all of its competition to hold on to title of the unchallenged king of the MPV segment, which makes it one of the most successful passenger vehicles from Toyota in India. Through the years, we have seen Innova in different forms and with different types of technologies over the years but this time the new Innova Hycross is a completely different vehicle altogether when you compare to the Innova Crysta.
While the previous genaration models were based on a ladder-on-frame chassis with Rear-wheel drive and had petrol and diesel engines, the new Toyota Innova Hycross is based on a monocoque chassis with front-wheel drive and most importantly it does not have a diesel engine in the lineup as it makes use of a strong hybrid setup.
So what is the new Innova Hycross all about and what are the features it gets, what are the powertrain options, what are its pros and cons, how is it to drive and most importantly is the new Innova still an Innova despite switching to a monocoque construction, FWD and a hybrid powertrain? Read the complete review for all the answers.
Toyota Innova Hycross exterior design and looks: Trying to be an SUV
Talking about the design of the new Innova Hycross, the MPV gets a more SUV-like appearance upfront with a wide grille, a raised bonnet line with a good amount of chrome and sharp creases all around. It gets a hexagonal front grille with a gunmetal finish and the headlamps are now sleeker with all LED technology (higher variants). The car also gets dual-function LED DRLs (DRL + Indicator) with LED fog lamps placed below. All of these elements give the Hycross more of an SUV stance.
Moving on to the side, the Hycross despite its attempt to look like an SUV reflects an MPV silhouette but now features a strong shoulder line and flared wheel arches for added visual muscle. The glasshouse near the D-Pillar is revised which gives it a sleeker rear quarter look.
The Hycross sits on five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, which seem a bit disproportionate and under-sized to its body and stance, especially given the bulky styling. At the rear, the Hycross gets a roof-mounted spoiler that carries the high-mounted stop light and the MPV also gets sleek LED tail lights with a scooped-out number plate that looks good.
Innova Hycross interior: Cabin comfort, space & features
The cabin of the Innova Hycross follows a brown and black theme with matte silver highlights. It gets a multilayered dashboard and all four AC vents have been smartly snuggled inside the chrome. Clearly, the new Hycross scores high in the cabin quality department. The choice of materials used gives a premium feel. The richly textured dashboard top, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and nicely crafted buttons along with the overall tactile feel of all the switchgear provide a plush cabin experience.
The star of the cabin is the 10.1-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It is sharp, easy to operate and offers good touch response. The MPV also gets a 360-degree camera which provides a decent view but the pixel clarity could have been better considering the premium positioning of the vehicle. The Hycross also features a 7-inch digital instrument cluster for the speedo and MID, flanked by analogue dials for the tacho, fuel and temperature gauge.
The gear selector has been moved from the centre console to the dash and the lever operation was smooth and solid. The driver and co-passenger seats are ventilated, although only the driver’s seat can be electronically adjusted.
Other notable features include auto climate control, panoramic sunroof, wireless Android Auto & Apple CarPlay and memory seats. There’s also a good audio system, ambient lighting, a powered tailgate, paddle shifters, USB Type-C charging ports among other features.
The second row is available as a bench or in a captain seat configuration, which we had in our test vehicle. The seats are very similar to those in the front with the same impressive contouring, under-thigh support and cushioning. In the captain seat configuration, the seat backrest can be electronically reclined and you also get Ottoman extensions that are electronically controlled. It’s quite close to a business class seat experience and that’s quite an achievement for an MPV of this segment.
For the comfort and convenience of second-row passengers, there are window shades and a dedicated climate control unit. The second and third rows have roof-mounted aircon vents and Second-row occupants also get foldable tray tables with cup holders between the captain’s chairs.
Getting into the third row isn’t that hard. The middle row slides in front giving you enough space. Once in place, you’ll appreciate the space on offer. Average-sized adults will be able to find decent legroom space although under-thigh support is lacking as one would expect in most third rows. The backrest reclines in a 50:50 ratio, and Toyota has even offered three individual headrests. That said, we believe Toyota has done well to deliver a usable third row.
Innova Hycross: Safety
The Innova Hycross gets autonomous driver assistance systems (ADAS) features such as blindspot monitor, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, high beam assist and lane keeping assist. Other safety features include six airbags, ABS with EBD, Traction Control and ESP. Also, consdiering the lightweight construction, which Toyota claims to ofer improved rigidity, overall safety should be good in this MPV.
Innova Hycross: Engine and Electric motor
The new Innova Hycross is available in two powertrain options – a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol and a 2.0-litre strong hybrid. Both are front-wheel driven and there’s no manual transmission on offer. The hybrid is what we drove – it’s a 1,987cc, four-cylinder petrol engine that operates on the Atkinson cycle. Based on Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid architecture this engine produces a combined 183 bhp of power and 206 Nm of torque.
The engine is paired with an electric motor that draws energy from a 1.6kWh nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery. The car starts off in the Pure EV mode with complete silence just like EVs if the battery has enough charge. When you increase the speed to beyond 50 kmph or demand quick acceleration the engine kicks in to recharge the battery and to provide propulsion power. It’s worth mentioning that the transition from electric to the engine is very smooth. When the engine kicks in you will be able to notice but not to an extent where it disrupts the refinement levels inside the cabin.
Innova Hycross: How does it perform and handle?
The acceleration of the Hycross is very linear and when accelerating hard it is the petrol engine that takes charge. Toyota claims that the Hycross can do 0-100 in 9.5 seconds which is impressive for a car this size and it does feel quick off the line. It gets three drive modes – Power, Normal and Eco. In power mode, the throttle response gets sharper and feels more aggressive but there is not enough grunt like on a diesel. The good news is that the Crysta diesel will be sold alongside.
Talking about the gearbox system, the Hycross gets an e-CVT gearbox. As long you are driving the Hycross in a relaxed manner it feels in complete sync with this hybrid system even at highway speeds. However, with an aggressive driving style, particularly at highway speeds, the e-CVT exhibits the rubber band effect where the engine makes a lot of sound but the vehicle doesn’t appear to move that quick.
Now let’s talk about efficiency, which is one of the key reasons for buying a hybrid vehicle. During our short drive, which involved a generous use of throttle, the Innova Hycross fuel-efficiency averaged at around 15 kmpl! For a vehicle of this size and weight, these figures are mighty impressive. in regular driving cycles, we expect this number to go up to 17 kmpl or beyond with ease.
Moving on to the ride & handling, with a monocoque construction, the Hycross feels nicely planted and offers more confidence than the Crysta. The body movements are far better controlled and give confidence at high speeds, which makes it a good long-distance cruiser. Overall grip through corners is good but body roll is evident once you push it. The all-wheel disc brakes though give it added confidence. What really has improved is the ride quality and cabin comfort as the vertical movement is now a lot lesser due to the monocoque construction.
Another big change in the Innova Hycross is the new electric power steering. The steering is significantly lighter than that of the Crysta. This, coupled with the great all-round visibility makes the Hycross a very easy to drive vehicle despite its dimensions. All said and done, the Hycross is quicker than the Crysta and feels more planted too but it lacks engagement and doesn’t offer and fun in the whole exercise of driving. This is the shortcoming we referred to in the headline as well. While this is an observation, it isn’t a drawback in particular because the vehicle is aimed at ferrying people in comfort and luxury and not dropping kids to the school in a scared state with the driver having a big smile plastered on their face.
Conclusion: Is the Toyota Innova Hycross worth buying?
The final thing missing in this puzzle is the price because it hasn’t been announced yet but that is set to happen in a few days. Quite honestly, pricing will play a key factor in Innova Hycross’s ultimate success, but after what we’ve seen and driven, there’s no doubt that Toyota has gone ahead and achieved a great improvement on an already great vehicle. The Innova Hycross offers good space, great ride quality, decent handling, and good performance and it is a step up on the Crysta in every single objective way.
If Toyota can price this from Rs 22-28 lakh (ex-showroom) it will be a great move by the company. Most people still don’t find EVs suitable for their requirements but want to get the EV experience. For such buyers, the Innova Hycross can be the best bridge in the present market scenario as long as Toyota doesn’t outprice itself.