Wednesday, March 16, 2016

First Impression: The all-new, second-generation Toyota Innova

About a month ago, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) invited select members of the motoring media to test drive its IMV lineup of vehicles around the Clark International Speedway. At that time, Toyota only had the Toyota Hilux, which was launched in 2015, and the Toyota Fortuner, which made its local debut in January 2016. The next-generation Toyota Innova had yet to make its presence then since it was to be launched in late February but the Japanese carmaker nonetheless made it available to us that time. The only catch though was that TMP asked us not to mention anything about it until its local launch. Well, since that has already happened, we can finally share with you our first impression of the all-new Toyota Innova.

The design of the all-new Toyota Innova is a vast improvement over the outgoing model. While its predecessor immediately gives of a Mom-mobile vibe with its soft corners, the upright grille and its bold, dual-bar accent that blend neatly into the headlights give the second-gen Innova a more masculine face, so much so that the Dads in the family will no longer feel emasculated when they get behind its steering wheel. Out back, the taillight design, which closely resembles that of the Honda HR-V, enhances the car's luxurious image that IMV chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima believes that the all-new Toyota Innova "will satisfy customers who are looking for something special in addition to the Innova's much loved heritage."

As gorgeous as the all-new Toyota Innova's exterior design is, it's the interior that shows the most improvement, with its design brief supposedly to give it a cabin that wouldn't look out of place in the more upscale Toyota Alphard. That's why the all-new Toyota Innova's dashboard is different from that of the Fortuner and the Hilux. Gone is the symmetrical, mostly plastic design of the old Innova and in its place for the new Innova is an asymmetrical look that makes tasteful use of wood paneling. Perhaps the biggest concessions to the all-new Innova's Alphard-like cabin is its use of a 10-step illumination of the ceiling-integrated LED strip and the front seatback-mounted tables for the second row occupants that can carry up to 10kg. The third-row seats are still of the tumble variety instead of the more practical fold-flat ones but they're easily stowed thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism.

The all-new Toyota Innova is powered by two different engines: a 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine that puts out 134hp and 183Nm of torque, and a 2.8-liter inline-four diesel mill that produces 169hp and 360Nm of torque. Toyota also did a clever bit of engineering to the engines by fitting it with what it calls as Torque Demand. When a vehicle goes over a speed bump, its typical behavior is to hesitate as it crawls up over it. With the Torque Demand system, power delivery is smooth and linear, allowing the vehicle to clamber over minor obstacles with ease.

We were only able to drive the all-new Toyota Innova for a very short time in Clark, and more recently in Panglao Island in Bohol where TMP launched it locally so we can't give you yet a more thorough feedback on its ride. What we can tell you for now though is that Toyota has tuned the double wishbone front and four-link coil spring rear suspensions for comfort, giving it a more car-like feel than its predecessor.

Interested buyers can choose from 14 variants locally, starting with the entry-level J variant with a gasoline engine and manual transmission at P919,000 to the range-topping slushbox-equipped V variant diesel at P1.46 million. A bit steep of a price jump from the prevous model, but then again, the all-new model's a much better car.

Manufactured locally at TMP's Santa Rosa, Laguna plant, more than 50% of the all-new Toyota Innova's components are reportedly sourced locally. Delivery of the vehicle to the Innova's customers will begin in April, with TMP targeting a sales forecast of at least 2,000 units per month.

Sure, the all-new Toyota Innova may be quite expensive now but we think buyers won't hesitate to buy one once they see that this is far removed from the old model. That's right, Toyota has another winner in its hands.

Photos taken with Fujifilm FinePix XP80

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