The Toyota Innova, for the longest time, has been one of the bestselling vehicles in the country today. Some may refer to it as an "Asian Utility Vehicle", or others just call it or any of its contenders in the segment by its modern term: Multipurpose vehicle. For me, I would rather prefer the former. And when the company lent me its Blackish Red Metallic top-of-the-line diesel V automatic variant and got to drive it around town for a week, I knew right then and there why this seven-seater captured the hearts of many.
At the onset, some may say that this people mover has not evolved through the years; and hence, has become plain and dull. Moreover, during its upgrade last year, it only had a few minor refresh, like the blacked-out grille, a new front bumper and its spoked alloy wheels.
Yes, it may not be the fairest of them all when it comes to this aspect. But who needs a stylish MPV when one only needs it to perform?
Inside, its practical yet smart panache continues with its streamlined layout, particularly on its seats and dashboard. Front and center is its seven-inch touchscreen display, equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, mated with knobs and buttons underneath. While, its steering-wheel controls and an analog instrument panel are well complemented by faux-wood accents.
Its fabric seats and seating — meanwhile — are arranged in a 2+2+3 layout with passengers getting the convenience of captain's chairs with armrests and their own air conditioning vents.
Furthermore, under its hood, it's powered by potent 2.8-liter turbodiesel churning 172hp and 360N-m of torque. If you ask me, no other MPV in the market offers such; and hence, it indeed lords over competition in this matter — by leaps and bounds. Bar none.
What's good about it is that one has the option to choose whether it would like the vehicle to perform to its fullest potential or just mellow down and scrimp on fuel. This choice is laid out with two buttons: The Power and Eco mode, placed right below the touchscreen up front.
With skyrocketing fuel prices, I opted for the latter during my weeklong drive and was able to squeeze an ample 12.5 kilometer per liter in a combined city and highway drive. And take note, those urban drives were literally "crawling" since I'd always get to find myself stuck in rush hour "Ber" months traffic.
NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) levels were steady. While handling is efficient enough and on point.
Overall, the Toyota Innova — truly — is built for no-nonsense function and performance, with a bit of style and comfort on the side. And these make it a hit in the Asian market.