Toyota Innova: The perennial MPV – Which variant?

Few vehicles on the road are as iconic or as important as the Toyota Innova. Tracing its MPV roots back to the Tamaraw days, Toyota’s hold on the MPV market has lasted close to 50 years. Let that sink in for a moment. In the world of MPVs, the Toyota has moved our nation for half a century, and chances are, you know someone who’s had a Toyota Revo, too. The Toyota Innova is the perennial people mover, and has become one of Toyota’s most important models in our country. In fact, the Toyota Innova has already edged out its rivals, making it the only midsize ladder frame MPV choice in the Philippines as of this writing.

The Toyota Innova’s success is mainly due to what it brings to Filipino customers, focusing on eight-seater capacity, powerful diesel engines, a wide range of trim levels, and reliability that’s backed up by decades. If you’re looking at purchasing a Toyota Innova, there are actually 10 variants, and you have a choice of gasoline or diesel for all trims except the range-topping V. In this article, we’ll be narrowing down the perfect variant that will give you the most value for money, combining efficiency, amenities, and passenger comfort, all without necessarily going for the most expensive one.

What’s the same across all variants?

Toyota Innova Deisel Engine

The Innova keeps it simple by sticking to two engines and two transmissions. You can have either a 2.8L turbocharged diesel engine that makes 171 hp and 360 Nm of torque or a 2.0L gasoline that has an output of 136 hp and 183 Nm of torque. These engines can be mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The gasoline variants are available up to the G trim, while the diesel is found across the board. The automatic is likewise available across the range except for the base J level, but the manual only goes up to the G. What’s also available as standard safety equipment on any Innova is a set of three airbags (driver, knee, and front passenger), ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, and ISOFIX mounts. You also have the two drive modes, power and eco, on all trims, plus a coolbox for snacks and drinks.

Looking at the J variants?

Innova Dash

Opting for the most affordable variants nets you steel wheels that are 16-inches in size, but you do get color matched side mirrors with integrated indicators. There’s also the absence of foglights, and you’ll have halogen headlights, too. The changes are mostly on the inside. You get a urethane steering wheel that lacks any audio controls, the front driver seat won’t be height adjustable, and you’ll also be lacking a multi-info display in the cluster. You also get a standard 2-DIN head unit with four speakers, but lacks any bluetooth connectivity. Manual air conditioning is also standard, and the rear passengers get their own controls and vents, too. You get the standard safety kit on all variants, however. For basic transportation and an easy way to carry eight people, the Innova J manuals, priced at P1,015,000 for the 2.0L gas and P1,123,000 for the 2.8L diesel, are great value, offering great versatility. While the gasoline is cheaper, we recommend going for the diesel, offering more than enough power for any task at hand while being cheaper at the pump.

Moving up to the E

Toyota Innova Touring Sport

Moving a trim level up upgrades your wheels to 16-inch alloys, and you get foglights added to the front bumper. You also get a remote key to lock and unlock your doors and added audio controls and driving display buttons on the steering wheel to adjust your bluetooth capable 2-DIN head unit and basic multi-function driving display. After the bluetooth upgrade, the sound system also gets an additional two speakers, bringing it up to six. It’s a slight upgrade, and you now have the automatic transmission available to you. If you’re still looking at the manual Innova E, the 2.0L gasoline will cost you P1,167,000, and the 2.8L diesel will be P1,239,000. Opting for the automatic 2.0L gasoline will set you back P1,237,000 and the 2.8L diesel at P1,309,000. Adding at least P152,000 to upgrade your gasoline J to an E, or dropping an additional P186,000 to move up from a manual Innova J diesel to an Innova E diesel with an automatic, may just sound good if you’re interested in the more feature packed head unit and addition of foglights for functionality. Remember that the E trim opens up the automatic transmission for purchasing, and that extra peso can be well worth the investment in terms of driving ease and comfort. Again, the diesel is our engine of choice.

How about the G variants?

Toyota Innova

This is where things get more interesting in the Innova’s spec sheets. With the Innova G, you get a wide array of upgrades across the entire vehicle. For one, you finally get automatic climate control for the front and rear passengers. You also get puddle lights and power folding mirrors, and nice ambient lighting for the rear passengers. A nicer leather steering wheel with wood trims and the usual assortment of buttons are included, and a back up sensor is integrated. Rear passengers get flip out tables, and an alarm with immobilizer is thrown in for added security. Now, about that head unit. If you opt for the gasoline G, you’re still stuck with the one in the E trim, so moving up to the diesel is the only way you’ll get to enjoy a touchscreen interface with navigation, bluetooth, and six speakers. Rounding off the changes is a TFT multi-function driving display in the instrument cluster. Talking about the G variants, the 2.0L gasoline comes in at P1,309,000, but we recommend foregoing that option and looking at the 2.8L diesel manual (P1,441,000) or automatic (P1,511,000). Looking at the previous E variant, you’re looking at adding at least P202,000 to get all the goodies and a manual diesel engine in the G trim. If automatic is more your speed, you need to fork over P202,000 as well to move up another level. In our eyes, the amount of additional kit you get is well worth the additional cash, and is a great balance between function and comfort. So, for us, the G variant is our sweet spot, and we’d gladly take an automatic diesel.

What about that highest V trim?

If you must have the most kitted out Innova on the road, then the V trim might tickle your fancy. You’ll have to sacrifice one seat, however, as the V trim replaces the second row with captain’s chairs, which ups the comfort factor considerably. You also get upgraded LED headlights and foglights for more visibility. You also now get one touch windows on all doors, keyless smart entry with push button start, and added handles to assist in entry and exiting of the Innova. The most notable upgrades are in the safety package, and they come in the form of seven airbags, hill start assist, and stability control, plus the standard features previously mentioned. You can only get the Innova V in diesel and with an automatic, and it’ll cost you P1,669,000. That’s P158,000 more expensive than the automatic diesel G variant, and if you have the extra cash, we say go for it; the added safety features are always a great investment.

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