Toyota Innova HyCross | First Drive Review 2023

Toyota has built a massive legacy in India, and the Innova name tag is a significant cause for its brand reputation in the country. The Innova was introduced back in 2005, and since then, it has impressed people with the space it offers, its comfort, and its reliability. I personally know people who have driven their Innovas for 6-7 lakh kilometers without any issues, and it still runs brand new. Not only the general people, but even fleet owners have really embraced the Innova and its successor the Innova Crysta for the comfort, refinement, and luxury it offers.

But the only genuine concern and, honestly, a complaint that most people had with the Innova was the lack of features it offered when compared to its completion. But that isn’t the case anymore with Toyota’s latest offering, the Innova HyCross. Packed to the brim with technology and features, the Innova HyCross is here to further dominate the MPV/SUV segment, and in the time I spent with the HyCross, I was genuinely impressed. Let me tell you why!

DRIVING

The Innova HyCross is equipped with two powertrains- a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated petrol engine combined with a CVT unit that produces 172 bhp and 205 Nm of peak torque. While the other is a 2.0-liter petrol engine coupled to an electric motor, or as Toyota refers to it, a self-charging hybrid powertrain. I drove the latter, which makes a combined output of 184 bhp and 206 Nm, propels the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds, which is impressive for a vehicle of this size. Accelerate, and the power from its hybrid engine feels smooth and effortless. Moreover, what really catches you by surprise is the silence you experience when you start the HyCross and not the diesel rattle you are used to in Toyotas. The vehicle also has a specific EV mode which allows the driver to drive in pure EV for a small distance, and the 1.7kWh battery gets charged via the motor when it depletes.

Yet another astounding feat is the instant power you have on tap, thanks to the electric motor. Acceleration from a standstill is instant and feels quite rapid. It also feels refined thanks to it running most of the time in EV mode at low speeds, and even when the four-cylinder petrol motor comes to life to charge the battery, it feels seamless, and the drive remains smooth and comfortable. The petrol motor is also refined; it is only when you floor the accelerator that the engine gets noisy as it stays at high RPMs to accelerate faster. Where this powertrain shines, however, is in terms of fuel efficiency. Toyota claims a figure of around 21km/l, and even during our testing, we were getting an average of nearly 17.5km/l under harsh accelerating and braking conditions.

Surprisingly, like the Crysta, the HyCross ride quality feels planted and comfortable. On the highway, the HyCross feels stable, and sudden potholes or undulations are dealt with with ease. Even at low speeds, the HyCross feels comfortable, making the ride for the passengers quite delighted. What is very impressive, however, is the sound insulation. The cabin remains silent even at high speeds, with very little road or wind noise seeping into the cabin, but the engine noise does creep in when pushed a bit. Combined with the supple suspension and comfortable seats, the HyCross is an exceptionally good long-distance companion.

INTERIOR

Step inside the Innova HyCross, and you are greeted with a premium-looking interior. The interior has a dual-tone dark chestnut theme with silver and gloss black inserts. Leather has been used on the dashboard, and the part quality feels good for the most part. The gear shifter is mounted on the center fascia rather than the center console, and paddle shifters have been provided. Overall, the cabin feels well-built and durable, just like you would expect from any Toyota, and it does feel like it will last for generations.

Previous generations of the Innova were known to be extremely spacious on the inside, and it’s safe to report that the HyCross is the same. The cabin feels nice and airy thanks to the large windows and the large panoramic sunroof. At the front, the driver can get highly comfortable behind the wheel and choose his perfect driving position using the 8-way electronically adjustable driver’s seat, which also has a memory function. The driving position is excellent, with a clear view of the road ahead.

Second and Third Row

Moving to the second row of seats, you instantly are cocooned in luxury. There’s excellent space for second-row passengers & your family members will be pleased. The two ottoman seats can accommodate even healthier occupants, and just like the front, the cushioning is just right. Plus, rear occupants can recline the ottoman seats and extend the calf support electronically to make their commute even more comfortable. But what I came to realize is that due to the placement of the batteries for the hybrid system under the front seat, the rear passengers aren’t able to place their legs under the front seat; tall passengers have to sit slightly awkwardly when the seat’s reclined to avoid pressing their legs against the underside of the front seat. But that issue can be resolved by sliding the second row behind to make more legroom for tall passengers.

You can access the third row of seats by sliding the second-row seats forward. Getting into the third row takes effort and is quite a task. Due to the table and cupholders mounted between the second row of seats, accessing the third row is only possible by sliding the second row of seats out of the way. Although, Once in, you’ll find that the last row of seats is actually pretty usable. They are placed at a decent height. The knee room is adequate, and even a 6-footer can fit by sliding the second-row seat forward via levers on the seatbacks. There’s also enough headroom for third-row adults. You can recline the backrest as well.

Features

Previously, most Innova owners had complaints here with regard to features when it was compared to its competition. But that is different with the HyCross since it is feature loaded. A panoramic sunroof, a 10.1-inch touchscreen head-unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, connected car tech, JBL 9-speaker sound system (including subwoofer), ventilated seats, 360-degree camera, ambient lighting, auto-dimming IRVM and other such goodies. Standout features include two individual ottoman seats, which can be slid front & back and reclined, a green laminated acoustic IR cut windshield, sunshades for the rear windows, and an electric tailgate. The car also gets Eco, Sport, and EV driving modes and TSS (mentioned earlier). A wireless charging pad can be purchased as an accessory. However, rain-sensing wipers have been left out of the equipment list, which is disappointing in such a premium car.

EXTERIOR

While talking about the overall exterior design of the Hycross, from some angles, it does resemble the Crysta very slightly. Still, as a whole, Toyota has designed the Hycross to look a lot more butch and masculine. It’s trying to shed the MPV looks that it previously carried and looks more like an SUV. At the front is a large imposing grille with chrome accents which blend well with the LED headlights. Moreover, with its design elements, the front bumper looks quite beefy, and the LED DRLs certainly make it look desirable in the front. Even the hood has some design features making it look distinctive. Moving onto the side, the first thing to catch your eye is the 18-inch alloys within the plastic cladded wheel arches. The squared-off arches add a more SUV-like element to the HyCross, making it look quite a lot taller than it is. Not only that, Toyota has added quite a lot of unique design elements to the side of the Innova HyCross to avoid making it look drab instead, it has a strong shoulder line and a design element on the rear door.

The most attention-grabbing thing about the rear of the Innova HyCross is the massive Innova HyCross badge that sits on the powered tailgate. On the right is the large hybrid badge, along with the variant of the HyCross. Further, the LED taillights and faux rear bumper cladding accentuate the rear design. Although my only query is why it has fake plastic vents at the rear, it looks quite cheap compared to the overall rear-end design. The boot space of the Innova HyCross is undoubtedly impressive. Open the electronic tailgate, and with all the seats up, two carry-on suitcases can fit comfortably in the boot of the HyCross. But if more space is needed, fold down the third and second row of seats and get 991 liters of boot space, which is enough to carry anything you can think of.

SPECS & PRICES

This will be one of those rare occasions where I wonder if you are actually waiting for my verdict. Because no matter what I say about the Innova HyCross, you folks will go and buy it anyway. To be frank, I couldn’t find any major faults with the HyCross apart from small things such as the camera quality, lack of space under the front seat to keep your legs, and the biggest being no diesel motor.

The Innova has always been a good car and with the HyCross, Toyota has only upped the ante. Now, Toyota has yet to announce the pricing for the HyCross, but they claim it will be under the Rs 35 lakh mark. And suppose Toyota does succeed in doing so. In that case, the Hycross will commence one of the fiercest battles in the 6-7 seater segment, and I cannot wait to see how the competitors react to this battle. So all that remains is to see what the price of the HyCross is, which Toyota says will be launching soon.

Also, Read – Mercedes-AMG E 53 4Matic+ Cabriolet Review 2023

Specifications

Engine – 2.0-litre Strong Hybrid

Power – 184bhp (combined)

Torque – 206Nm (combined)

Gearbox – e-CVT

0 to 100km/h – 9.5 seconds (claimed)

Price – Rs 30 to 35 lakh (expected)

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