Toyota Motor Philippines, the country’s largest and best-selling automaker by a huge margin is ready to once again disrupt the market with the new 2023 Toyota Zenix. If the name isn’t what you were expecting, then you’re not alone. Overseas, this is called the Innova Zenix, but in the Philippines, this won’t replace the Innova. Instead, it’ll be sold alongside it, hence the Zenix designation.
There’s a reason why it won’t directly replace the Innova–even if that was supposed to be its job. The Hilux-based IMV platform of the second-generation Innova that first came out in 2016 is still popular, especially for those living in areas with rough roads. In fact, there’s strong feedback from our readers that they wouldn’t welcome the idea of the body-on-frame Innova being discontinued. The IMV platform made the Innova quite tough when it came to dealing with hauling people or cargo and of course very torquey and enduring due to its 2.8-liter diesel engine.
On the upside, this new, front-wheel drive (FWD) TNGA-C platform means the 2023 Toyota Zenix gets a significantly roomier interior and top-notch comfort provided by a car-based monocoque platform. Migrating to a car-based platform has surprisingly kept its dimensions relatively unaltered. The Zenix is slightly longer at 4,755 mm and slightly wider at 1,850 mm. It is, however, lower at 1,790 mm, but its wheelbase is a generous 2,850 mm. The ground clearance is surprisingly a bit higher than the Innova at 185 mm.
The car-based roots are very strong indeed because the Zenix sits slightly lower to the ground. Through the use of black body cladding (in the 2.0 Q Hybrid, at least), the 2023 Toyota Zenix has also transformed into an MPV that’s disguised as a crossover SUV. Moving towards the sides and rear, the Zenix is giving very strong Toyota Highlander vibes (a midsize SUV that’s sold in North America), while the rear end has a tailgate design that’s very similar to the RAV4. Overall, the looks are transformative and make for a vehicle that’s really so different from the Innova that the separation into a new nameplate is worth it.
In terms of exterior differences, the top trim 2.0 Q Hybrid variant we’re seeing here gets stuff like LED daytime running lights and 18-inch wheels, but even the entry-level 2.0 V gasoline model already gets full LED lighting, a powered tailgate, and smart entry with push-button start, just to name a few.
Likewise, the interior is radically different from what we’re used to with past Innovas. There’s a generous use of soft-touch materials in key areas, while a 10.1-inch infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto are standard. There are also other standard features across both 2.0 V and 2.0 Q Hybrid variants such as ambient lighting, captain’s chairs, automatic climate control, and electronic parking brake. Splurging for the Q Hybrid adds leather upholstery, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and Ottomans (footrests) for the captain’s chairs, just to name a few.
Just as radically different in the Zenix is its powertrain choices. The 2.0 V gets a four-cylinder naturally-aspirated gasoline engine that produces a stout 172 horses and 205 Nm of torque. This is sent to the front wheels via a CVT. The main highlight of course is the Q Hybrid, which uses a 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain with a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery located under the front seats. The hybrid drivetrain has a 192-horsepower combined system output, though the total torque output is not indicated. This likewise drives the front wheels via an e-CVT.
Safety is also pretty good in the Zenix as all variants come with six airbags, electronic stability control, and a reverse camera, just to name a few. Splurging for the Q Hybrid adds a 360-degree camera, along with the full Toyota Safety Sense suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) such as Pre-Collision System, Automatic High Beam, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, among other features.
The new 2023 Toyota Zenix is now in dealers for P1,670,000 for the 2.0 V and P1,953,000 for the 2.0 Q Hybrid. The hybrid model’s NiMH battery also comes with an 8-year/200,000-kilometer warranty on top of the standard 3-year/100,000-kilometer warranty. Based on how the Zenix looks on paper, was it a good decision for Toyota to sell both the Innova and the Zenix together?