You Say You Want a Revolution?: Toyota Innova (2005)
A SEISMIC SHIFT IN THE CAR INDUSTRY is a rare occurrence, but the introduction of a model that breaks previous notions and barriers will have a significant impact on both consumers and manufacturers. One such event was the introduction yesterday of Toyota’s new Innova. The Innova is the second vehicle in Toyota’s Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) project. The first to use the IMV platform was the all-new Hilux unveiled last December, and the third will be the Fortuner SUV that will be released later this year. The IMV represents Toyota’s assault on the commercial vehicle segment, and a powerful effort to cement its leadership position.
Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) Chairman George S.K. Ty and TMP President Nobuharu Tabata led the ceremonies marking the roll-off from the production line of the first units of Innova. The Innova is a minivan based on a robust frame chassis. There is space for eight within its cabin: two bucket seats up front, a middle bench good for three, and a rear bench that can seat two comfortably or three in a pinch. The Innova is the replacement of the venerable Revo, and yet it surpasses that model and others in its class. For one, the shape is no longer two-box affair that has been the norm for the AUV class. The sleek and simple lines flow smoothly from the sharply-slanted nose, with a large greenhouse.
Two engines are available, a 2.0 liter VVT-i unit good for 136 bhp and 182 Nm, and a 2.5-liter common rail turbodiesel that produces 102 bhp and 260 Nm (AT)/200 Nm (MT). The entry-level J and mid-grade E come with 5-speed manual only, while the upscale G has either the manual or 4-speed automatic. Front discs and rear drum brakes take care of the stopping duties. Tires are 205/65 R 15.
The interior is also generations ahead of its predecessor. The curvaceous, hard-plastic dashboard is shared with the Hilux, as are the gauges and switchgear. The all-gray version is acceptable, while the beige version is bright and airy. Even those accustomed to Japanese or American compact SUVs will not be disappointed. The G is equipped with electroluminescent gauges similar to those in the Corolla. The second and third row split-fold and tumble out of the way if more luggage space is needed. 3 point ELR belts and headrests are provided for all outboard passengers, with the middle seats getting lap belts. The G is equipped with a driver’s airbag and a trip computer that provides temperature, compass, cruising range, average speed, and fuel consumption data.
The other promise is one of refinement, with lower levels of NVH, and an end to the balky cornering inherent in most AUVs. Front double wishbones and a 4-link rear suspension with coil springs bode well for the ride quality. With its repositioned intake vents and anti-water channeling, the Innova can reportedly drive through 600 mm of water at 5 km/h with ease.
The public utility vehicle function that the Tamaraw FX served exceedingly well is no longer the target market. As the Tamaraw/Revo is now history, TMP points to its new 15-seater Hi-Ace commuter as the best replacement.
The Innova’s killer blow is that is no more expensive that the Revo or its competitors, and in most cases actually cheaper. The gasoline variants are the J (MT) at P718,000; G (MT) at P915,000; and G (AT) at P970,000. The diesel lineup is comprised of the J (MT) at P768,000; the E (MT) at P865,000; the G (MT) at P965,000; and the G (AT) at P1,030,000.
Because of that wide range of prices, the vehicle will appeal to a multitude of users who are considering a compact sedan, minivan, AUV, or SUV. If its introduction in other ASEAN markets is any indication, the Innova will generate the lion’s share of sales in its class, as well as a waiting list several months long. Even without that history, we could tell by inspecting the vehicle that its success is nearly assured. We felt the ground rumble as the Innova rolled off the line.
By Jason Ang | Photos By Ulysses Ang