Toyota Innova HyCross
The Toyota Innova is a case study for the strength of a brand. It has been a tried-and-tested option for families and cab operators who are looking for a three-row MPV for years. In 2016, to up the premium quotient of the Innova, Toyota launched Innova Crysta in 7- and 8-seat configurations. As we all know Innova's biggest strength is its comfort and safety. Crysta came up with more features, and premiumness to attract individual customers. As predicted, Crysta too fared well in the market and met expectations. Toyota doesn't want to stop there and now they have come up with a hybrid crossover in the form of Innova HyCross. This shows the hunger for the company to bring technology, comfort, safety, and features, all under one package.
In terms of design, HyCross looks impressive and it looks more like an SUV now with a bigger look than the current Crysta. The upright front end of the new Innova sports a new hexagonal grille with chrome surrounds that is flanked on either side by a set of sleek sweptback LED headlamps. The lower section of the front bumper feature triangular sections on both sides that play host to the LED DRLs that also act as indicators. Overall, the front has a premium look. The side profile looks completely new with its neatly sculpted body lines, subtly defined squared-out wheel arches, and plastic body cladding. The twin five-spoke 18-inch alloys seem small for the size but are well designed nevertheless. The designers have worked extensively to give it a crossover like look. The rear too has a crossover look and goes away from being an MPV. The sloping rear windscreen, integrated spoiler element on the roof that houses the third brake light along with sleek wraparound LED taillights looks more like a crossover.
Innova HyCross is built on Toyota’s global TNGA-C ‘High’ platform. This platform being monocoque is good news because it makes the Innova HyCross more spacious, efficient, and importantly easier to drive along with a car-like driving experience. Keeping this in mind, we stepped inside the cabin and it was a big surprise for us. The cabin is not only spacious, but it also has drastic changes, you won’t believe that it is an Innova. It comes with a host of new features that Indians would love. The first thing to notice is the massive panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting and reclining seats with leg support.
It comes with a new layered dashboard design with a floating 10-inch infotainment system as well as the air vents accentuate the width of the dashboard. The dual brown and black colour tones add to the aesthetic appeal. There is a new steering wheel that looks mature and the instrument cluster gets a 7-inch digital display, Interestingly the gear console is an extension of the dashboard, so it sits below the HVAC controls, and the lever operates with a rather solid, satisfying click. This further aided to have two cup holders between the front seats and a large armrest-cum-storage box.
The 9-speaker audio system is powered by a JBL sound system, acoustic and tinted windscreen, electric tailgate, paddle shifters and tyre pressure monitoring system. Hycross also comes with ADAS features like adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep assist, blind-spot monitor, auto high beam, 360-degree camera and more.
The front two seats are electrically operable with two memory functions and add more comfort due to the ventilated seats. Due to the extended wheelbase, the knee, leg and foot room for middle passengers is plenty. In the captain seat variant, you get a set of part-electric chairs with ottomans, extensions on which you can rest your legs when you really want to stretch out, thus taking comfort to the next level. There are dedicated climate control unit and a foldable tray with cup holders between the captain seats. In Hycross the rear AC vents have been moved to the sides of the roof to accommodate the sunroof. The third row offers a good amount of space and comfort, in fact, even adults will be comfortable even for long drives, but for taller people the headroom is insufficient. Like in the Crysta the third row gets air vents, as well as cubbies and cup holders although there is a single 12V charge outlet unlike the USB ports for the front two rows.
Toyota will be offering HyCross in two engine options – a 2.0-litre hybrid paired with an e-CVT and a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine. As we have mentioned a lot of times, there won’t be any diesel engine on offer with this car. Both the engines are 1,987cc, four-cylinder direct-injection engines, however, the hybrid model runs on the Atkinson cycle. Here the intake valves remain open for longer during the compression stroke for a lean air-fuel mixture therefore the petrol unit makes merely 188Nm of torque by itself, compared to the non-hybrid’s 205Nm of torque. In the hybrid model, an electric motor is aiding the petrol engine for which the power is drawn from the 1.6kWh nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery, which is placed under the front seats.
Like all the hybrid cars, the Hycross also start in EV mode, as speeds increase, it is the petrol engine that takes charge. With the battery motor lending its electrical assistance, the car feels quite responsive and the hybrid makes light work of small increments in speed. The e-CVT is at ease when driven sedately and feels in complete sync with this hybrid system. The Hycross is a fairly brisk machine, the 0 to 100 kmph claim of 9.5s but post that the performance tappers. The MPV could have had a better high-speed overtaking ability, at part-throttle, there isn't enough torque to make quick passes as say a similarly powerful diesel engine.
The Hycross is more refined than the Crysta it feels planted at high speeds, with little float or slack. The ride smoothens out very well here too, so again long-distance comfort will be a big positive. Body roll is kept in check and the long wide car does a good job of hiding its mass here as well as if not better than similarly sized SUVs. The steering tune further enhances this sense. It's not overtly light at city speeds but feels precise. There are paddle shifters on offer, so drivers can manually select six predefined ratios, and then there are drive modes too – Power, Normal and Eco.
Hycross feels more sophisticated in the way it goes down the road, that’s the overwhelming sensation you get when you drive it. The suspension itself is softly sprung and soaks up most of it comfortably and good damping keeps body movement in check. The monocoque construction begins showing its prowess almost immediately. Body movements are far better controlled, and even though the suspension feels a touch firmer than the Crysta’s, it drives with a lot more confidence this time around, due to its longer wheelbase, offering a planted highway ride. The electric power steering in Hycross makes manoeuvring and parking this large MPV a breeze. And besides being light and easy, its tight turning radius is very impressive. What’s nice is that the steering feels consistent, and it doesn’t kick back aggressively like Crysta’s hydraulic steering.
The new Hycross is the true option for families looking for a proper three-row MPV with great fuel economy. The price of the regular petrol engine starts from Rs. 18.30 lakh for the base G seven-seater variant and goes all the way up to Rs. 19.20 lakh for the GX eight-seater variant. The self-charging hybrid model price starts at Rs. 24.01 lakhs and the top of the line ZX (O) comes at Rs. 28.97 lakhs (all prices are ex-showroom, pan India). In this segment, the main competitor for Hycross will be Kia Carnival. With this price, design, interior quality, hybrid drivetrain and better ride quality Hycross scores well but at the same time, it has big shoes to fill since it follows Innova, which has been dominating Indian roads for decades.