City
Please Tell Us Your City
Vikrant Singh Vikrant Singh Tuesday 21 Jun 2016, 11:42 AM
Introduction
 
It’s a little strange in a market wherein one has so many options to choose from in classes like hatchbacks, compact sedans and SUVs, there are only two in the full-sized, seven-seater class (and let me narrow this down further) costing around Rs 20 lakh. On one end you have a popular SUV from an established SUV maker, and on the other, there’s an upmarket MPV from the makers of near indestructible cars; leaving out the Etios series, of course.
 
On the SUV end with its monocoque chassis, flashy DRLs and an over the top design is the Mahindra XUV500. In the MPV camp is the still slightly utilitarian looking (though with more pizzazz), but nearly as huge and attention seeking new Toyota Innova Crysta. And by new, we mean the Innova now gets a new chassis, a completely new top hat, new interiors and new powertrains as well.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
So, if you have around Rs 20-25 lakh to spare, which one should you go for? After all, both the cars here can seat seven, are loaded to the gills, and are powered by new age diesel engines. For this test we have considered the Mahindra XUV500 W10 AT priced at Rs 20.4 lakh and the Rs 25.8 lakh Toyota Innova Crysta ZX 2.8 AT; both prices are on the road in Mumbai.
 
Exterior
 
The Mahindra XUV500, as we mentioned earlier is over the top. It’s not what one might call a palatable design, not with its in-your-face grille and a bumper that’s crowed with slashes, crevices and lots of bling. And, it’s the same story elsewhere you look. The profile is dominated by tall wheelarches and a pronounced shoulder line, while the rear is all about tattooed tail lamps and difficult to define design lines running helter-skelter on the tailgate. But, like it or hate it, you simply can’t ignore the XUV500 on the road. And there, I think lays its appeal.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
The MPV, as its genre demands, is less polarising. Toyota has gone to great lengths to add some oomph to the previous car’s utilitarian design, and we must say, it has worked. The Innova Crysta with its sloping down roof line, better defined wheelarches and a squarish shoulder has more of a crossover appeal to it. And, it has a strong face too. Dominated by the large grille and sweptback headlamps, there’s some aggression to its bumper design too. The rear, however, isn’t very appealing with all one can notice is that large tail lamp cluster.
 
Overall, the new Innova Crysta will draw second glances, no doubt, but in terms of sheer visual presence, the XUV500 is still king.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
Interior
 
What we have here are two expensive cars. These are both over Rs 20 lakh on the road. But, when you step inside, both disappoint. The quality of plastic and materials overall are no match for premium hatchbacks either forget cars like the Skoda Octavia which come for nearly the same money.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
Things are a little better in case of the Innova Crysta. The dash top looks right for the price even though there’s no soft grain plastic. But start moving down and even though Toyota has tried hard to give some texture to the plastic in order for it so seem upmarket, it still looks any cheap, hardwearing, shiny plastic. We also didn’t like the flip down cup holders for they feel really tacky.
 
The seats though, all round, are impressive. These are large, comfy and supportive. The Innova also offers a better driving position compared to the XUV. And, the last row, though not as comfy as the first and second rows, is still decently roomy. In fact, space all round is impressive. There’s enough knee and headroom in all three rows and the shoulder room is acceptable, even for versions with a second row bench seat that would need to accommodate three abreast seating.
 
Equipment wise, the Innova Crysta gets a single zone climate control system with a proper rear AC, electric powered driver’s seat, a decent sound system with touchscreen interface and inputs for AUX, USB and Bluetooth. Additionally, it gets electric powered ORVMs with fold, keyless entry and start, ambient lighting, a multifunctional steering wheel, cruise control and a cooled glovebox.
 
Mahindra, now known for packing its cars to the brim, has done a good job with the XUV500 as well. The XUV matches the Innova every step of the way in terms of comfort and convenience features. And then goes a step further by offering a sunroof. But, in terms of safety, Toyota leads the way. Both cars get ABS and ESP, but while the XUV gets six airbags, the Innova Crysta comes with seven. Moreover, the Toyota comes with three point seatbelts for all occupants, which isn’t the case with the Mahindra.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
Space on the XUV meanwhile is as impressive as the Innova. It might be a little low on kneeroom compared to the Toyota but the Mahindra’s width guarantees better shoulder room; even in the last row. It does struggle to match the Innova in terms of seating comfort, nonetheless. The seats feel oddly bolstered compared to the Toyota and these lack the right amount of firmness feeling too soft on occasions.
 
However, it’s the inferior overall quality, fit and finish and ergonomics that really put the XUV out of contention compared to the Innova in the battle of interiors. The design of the dash as well as the look and feel of the plastic and the operability of various controls on the XUV seems dated now compared to the new Toyota. What the XUV needs now, is a serious revamp of its insides to up its premium feel. 
 
Performance
 
One of the biggest issues with the older Innova was its anemic and loud drivetrain. That’s been addressed in the new Innova Crysta with two new engines. The manual gets the smaller, lesser powerful 2.4-litre diesel while our automatic test car gets the 2.8-litre diesel. It displaces 2755cc, develops over 170bhp and has a fetching torque figure of 360Nm available from a surprisingly low 1200rpm. No wonder even though the Innova Crysta weighs in at 1880kg fully fuelled up, it feels terrifically peppy, especially in Power mode.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
The throttle response is immediate – a little too immediate if you ask us for it can feel a tad jerky especially at city speeds. But the point is, the Innova Crysta is decently fast and has respectable driveability, especially when you compare it to the older Innova. Here are some figures to put things in perspective.
 
The XUV500 weighs 40kg less but is also down on power; it is powered by a 2179cc, 140bhp, 330Nm diesel. The XUV posts a time of 11.9 seconds to 100kmph, and 6.7s and 8.9s in kickdown for the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs, respectively. The Innova Crysta delivers almost identical figures. The 0-100kmph comes up in 11.4 seconds while the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph kickdown tests take 6.6s and 8.7s. But to the driver, thanks to a quicker, better reacting automatic gearbox, the Innova feels significantly more alive.
 
It also feels better tackling climbs or covering large distances on the highway. Yes, there’s some booming effect inside the cabin at low revs and the engine does tend to get a bit noisy if you rev it (as does the XUV for that matter), but overall, it’s a package one can live with.
 
Till, of course, you factor in its unsettled ride and a lazy and heavy steering. At low speeds the Innova Crysta jiggles and there’s some uncomfortable side-to-side movement too. And then, at higher speeds it wallows. It’s not bad enough for you to look away but for a car at such a high price point, we would have liked more finesse to the driving experience.
 
Ditto for the XUV500. It jiggles and wallows less, we will give it that, but the ride is noisier and harsher than on the Innova and there’s more pronounced steering kickback as well. The XUV doesn’t feel as planted as the Toyota over undulating roads either, and though it is lighter, the Mahindra still isn’t up to quick direction changes and feels almost as cumbersome as the Toyota. The good side to the XUV is its lighter and quicker steering and a more settled low speed ride. As a result, the XUV feels easier to live with in the city. And of course, the better visibility on the XUV helps as well.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
 
Conclusion
 
Here’s the bottom line: Both the Innova Crysta and the XUV500 are average products for the price they come at. These aren’t cars you’d be thrilled with and are a compromise you’d have to settle for to enjoy three rows of seating. These lack the quality, the luxury feel and the driving finesse one expects when paying over Rs 20 lakh.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500-1
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel
Between the two though, the Innova Crysta is the newer product. And it feels like one. It has nicer interiors, better seats, more sure-footed driving feel and the drivetrain scores over the XUV500’s as well. The Innova is more fuel-efficient too. It averaged 10.6kmpl compared to 9.4kmpl returned by the XUV on our city route. But, the Innova is more expensive.
 
So, if you must have a personal transport that’s well equipped, spacious and offers three rows of seating, both the XUV and the Innova suffice. But, between the two, given you have the extra money; the Innova Crysta makes more sense.
Toyota Innova Crysta Vs Mahindra XUV500-2
Toyota Innova Crysta diesel Vs Mahindra XUV500 diesel

Pictures: Kapil Angane