First Drive: 2016 Toyota Innova 2.0G, better in every aspect

Toyota’s MPV range has always been the brand’s hallmark. From ultra-luxurious people mover to the budget fleet vehicles, Toyota has just about the car for everyone to choose. Even more so with the introduction of the all-new Toyota Innova, UMW’s fourth MPV launch this year.

Shortly before the official launch of the second-generation Toyota Innova, UMW Toyota invited the media for a test drive event. UMW has arranged the first and second generation Innova to be driven back-to-back for us to experience the improvements of the all-new Innova over its predecessor. After spending a day with the top-of-the-range Innova 2.0G, it certainly lives up to its tagline – Prestige Perfected.2016 Toyota Innova Media Test Drive

QUICK FACTS

NameToyota Innova 2.0G (AT)
Engine1,998cc; inline-4 DOHC with Dual VVT-i
Transmission6-speed automatic with Sequential Shifter
Max Power137 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Max Torque183 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
PriceRM126,000.00

For the most part, the Innova shares the same recipe from the previous generation – a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated 1TR-FE with Dual VVT-i, an IMV platform like the Hilux and Fortuner and a rear-wheel drive layout. The 2.0-litre 1TR-FE engine now churns out 3 hp and 1 Nm more, bringing the figures up to 137 hp and 183 Nm. A new six-speed automatic with Sequential Shifter is equipped here to provide better fuel economy and refinement. Opt for the 2.0E manual variant and you will get a five-speed stick instead. Regardless of transmission choice, the Innova is a certified EEV.

The Innova can be had in three variants, namely the 2.0G (AT), 2.0E (AT) and 2.0E (MT). Exterior styling wise, the G and E are identical to each other, except for the front fog lamps, chrome radiator grille and door handles. These however, are all omitted on the 2.0E. Besides that, keyless entry and power folding wing mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamp are also omitted. Fortunately, the 16-inch twin five-spoke alloys wrapped in 205/65 profile Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tyres is standard across the range.2016 Toyota Innova Media Test Drive

The interior is a vast improvement over the previous generation and fortunately for consumers, the Innova is packed with goodies inspired by its bigger siblings. The black themed interior (as opposed to beige in the outgoing Innova) gives off the impression of a much more premium vehicle (a la the Vellfire). The leather wrapped multifunctional steering wheel with wood inlays and Optitron meter with 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-info display is taken straight off the RM190k Fortuner.

Our test unit was fitted with the optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (RM2,990 with GPS navigation, RM1,990 without navigation) with reverse camera and navigation connected to six speakers. The touchscreen unit is simple to operate with crisp and vibrant colours while the audio quality from the six speakers is simply a delight. Parking is made easy with the reverse camera coupled with front and rear parking sensors. Although, I’m not sure if the Garmin-based navigation system is worth your extra RM1,000.2016 Toyota Innova Media Test Drive

Compared to the previous generation, Toyota has certainly worked their magic on the overall ergonomics of the new Innova. Folding the second row seats is much simpler thanks to the One Touch Tumble function where the old car requires a two-step motion. The third row seats with One Touch Easy Space Up were very light making it easy to stow them away. Not to forget the Easy Close Back Door (vacuum door) exclusive to the G-spec Innova made closing the tailgate a much more graceful affair.

Other features that are available only on the G-Spec Innova such as row roof mounted air vents for both the second and third row (with automatic controls), 10kg tray and blue ambient lighting certainly add to the premium impression of the cabin. Not to mention an impressive array of safety features including seven airbags, ABS with EBD, BA, VSC, hill start assist and Emergency Stop Signal.2016 Toyota Innova Media Test Drive

Just before we get into how the all-new 2.0G Innova drives, allow me to just touch on the quirks of its predecessor. To recap, the old Innova 2.0G is powered by the same 2.0-litre 1TR-FE engine but mated to a four-speed slushbox producing 134 hp and 182 Nm of torque. On the get go, the four-speeder is slow to react to throttle inputs and lacks refinement.

NVH levels were also subpar with wind and road noise seeped into the cabin even at moderate speeds. Over bumps and humps, rebounds are very apparent although to be fair the damping is setup to support heavy loads. However, for the Innova’s intended purposes and considering that this is an 11-year old model, it’s fairly acceptable. The question then becomes: just how much better can the new model be? Let’s find out.

Immediately the extra two cogs and improved gear ratios made acceleration a breeze. Hard on the throttle and the gearbox kicks down a gear or two to supply the power you need for overtaking manoeuvres. Power delivery is smooth and linear and getting up to highway speeds is not so much of a chore compared to the old model. Although, I could imagine the 2.0-litre petrol mill will struggle under a full load but at least the powertrain is a smoother operator.2016 Toyota Innova Media Test Drive

On the highway, NVH levels were noticeably more refined. Even at highway cruising speeds, wind noise was not as apparent as before, even by industry standards. Road noise was also kept at bay possibly due to the low rolling resistance Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tyres and more liberal use of sound deadening materials.

According to UMW Toyota, the new Innova is fitted with larger rear shock absorbers coupled with revised damping settings to provide better ride comfort. Over the same stretch of roads, the old Innova dances around from the undulating surfaces, but the new one wafted through with significantly lesser rebounds, making it a much more pleasant ride. Around bends, despite its 1,700kg weight, the MPV holds its composure surprisingly well.

Overall, the second-generation Toyota Innova is indeed Prestige Perfected. It drives far better, comes with plenty of goodies to play with and the top-spec 2.0G is all yours for RM126k. Those of you who are in the market for an MPV below RM150k, there are already a few such as the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid, Mazda Biante or even some grey market imports. However, this Innova is definitely worth your time, consideration and money. Need more reasons? How about a 5-Yeary unlimited mileage, manufacturer-backed warranty programme and the reliability that comes with every Toyota-badged cars?2016 Toyota Innova 2.0L Launch in Malaysia - AutoBuzz.my

Matthew’s Take: The Toyota Innova seems to have made a tremendous leap forwards in terms of overall packaging. But what is most impressive is the newfound feel of luxury in the cabin. I’ve spent a great deal of time driving the outgoing Innova 2.0G, but the entire experience gets diluted down to it being a common people carrier with nothing much to prove (still can’t get over the hurricane that comes with every cold-crank of the engine). The second-generation model however, takes things up multiple notches. It will undoubtedly sell in good numbers, but I hope the full-spec variant (with projector headlamps and such) will join the lineup in due course.


IMAGE GALLERY

Adrian Chia

Adrian Chia

He believes that the perfect remedy to Monday blues is a mixture of 4 wheels, clear roads and a pinch of twisty tarmac. When he picks a car, his mind goes safety over style, corners over straights and stability over speed.
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