Innova Crysta: An unbeatable product

Japanese companies never make hasty decisions. They study minutely every problem and then decide so decisions are slow but the implementation is well thought out and fast. Indian auto journalists were shocked when Toyota suddenly replaced the very successful Qualis with the Innova in 2004. Now they are shocked again by the new Innova Crysta that is bigger, more powerful and more expensive.

The sub branding of Crysta is there to underline that the new Innova is a completely different vehicle. It has shed most of the Innova’s MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) qualities that made it so popular for long distance taxis and is now a virtual SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) ideal for large families. It is 15 cms longer and a bit wider and taller to make it a very spacious and comfortable vehicle.

The reliable old 102 hp diesel engine has also been replaced by three powerful new ones. 2400 cc 150 HP diesel, another 2800 cc 174 HP diesel and a 2700 cc 166 HP petrol plants. With big 16 and 17 inch wheels on the top models these offer most of the features of the big Fortuner SUV. The prices of these models have also gone up a lot narrowing the gap with the prices of the Fortuna. Though the old Fortuna is still being sold it is an open secret that a new upgraded Fortuna will soon be here. As Toyota will not leave an empty slot in the big taxi segment one can guess that a there will soon be a model to fill this space as well.

The first impression is the aggressive looking front face with a huge whale shark like black grille and air intake below two chromed slats that link the sleek projector headlights. On the insides there is however a complete transformation from the utilitarian looks of the outgoing Innova. The Crysta sports a classy looking dashboard with big round instruments and a centre touch screen for all the audio and infotech stuff. There is very elegant black fabric or leather seats. The second row of seats remains as spacious as ever but there is more room in the third row as well as a bit more space behind it for luggage. The rear seat folding has been made sleek and simple and there is a useful back seat table behind the front seats. The top models also have a huge array of features for safety like ABS brakes, stability control and airbags. It also has a ‘hill start assist’ that is very useful for starting on slopes as it prevents involuntary roll back. There is also cruise control that is really quite useless on our roads. Needless to say there many other gadgets for convenience and comfort including a smart, keyless entry system, GPS navigation, wireless door locking et cetera.

Buyers have a confusing choice of 22 models of which the eight top models will offer a six-speed automatic transmission while the rest will continue with the faithful 5-speed manual gears. On the road the Crysta seems to have a softer suspension to flatten out potholes and bumps but it remains so well planted that driving at speed feels very secure and safe even with the quick acceleration from the big new engines. The petrol model like all cars with petrol engines is a shade quieter and smoother. Toyota has repositioned their Crysta to shake up the market and offers an unbeatable product.

The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist