So, you’re interested in buying the 2023 Toyota Zenix. That’s great! For you to know what you’re getting into, the Innova Zenix is being branded as just the Zenix in the Philippines because it won’t be replacing the truck-based body-on-frame diesel Innova. Though Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) did not explicitly say this, I think I understand why this was the right move for them.
The Zenix Hybrid’s Great, But What About The Non-Hybrid?
Well, I’m glad you asked, dear reader. Most of our content over the past few weeks has revolved around the 2.0 Q Hybrid, so I decided to focus on what most customers are probably keen to find out–the 2.0 V non-hybrid model. From the outside, the 2.0 V doesn’t get the 18-inch wheels, fender cladding, chrome door handles, and LED daytime running lights of the range-topping 2.0 Q Hybrid. Instead, you get smaller 17-inch wheels, though the rest pretty much carries over unchanged. That includes the powered tailgate, which is always handy especially when your hands are preoccupied with other stuff.
Inside, there are also a few omissions to meet this variant’s P1,670,000 price tag. Gone are the leather upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the power adjustment for the rear captain’s chairs as well as the ottomans (footrests). Instead, you get a fabric interior and fewer soft-touch materials, but the captain’s chairs, ambient LED lighting, rear climate controls, rear USB ports, touch screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, and smart entry with push-button start are still retained. Overall, while there are fewer features in this variant, I still think it offers a pretty good value. Besides, this variant still costs less than the diesel Innova 2.8 V, which retails for P1,789,000. Granted, there are customers who do want bench seats for the second row, so here’s to hoping Toyota does offer a variant with such a configuration soon.
So, The Zenix Is FWD. How Does It Compare To The Innova?
The 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.
Likewise, the driving experience is also transformative. The TNGA-C platform’s refinement advantage over the Innova is night and day. There’s less noise from all sources, whether it was from the engine, the tires, or the wind. To the credit of the diesel Innova’s IMV platform, it was the least truck-like to drive. But that’s the thing, it still pretty much felt like a softer and more plush Hilux or Fortuner. The Zenix, however, has light steering, a soft suspension, and excellent body control that it feels like a Toyota Corolla Cross–albeit bigger in every dimension. It’s not a sporty car, but that’s not the Zenix’s purpose. It’s meant to be a comfortable and relaxing MPV, and it does that so well.
Your main concern at this point will most likely revolve around the gasoline drivetrain. At least under my driving experience for a day, the new 2.0-liter Dynamic Force gasoline engine that is also used in the Lexus UX is perfectly fine, if not torquey enough to pin you back to your seat. Fundamentally, its 172 horses and 205 Nm of torque are excellent figures for a non-turbo engine. The CVT also performs responsively and smoothly, even if there’s that occasional engine drone you get when accelerating hard, but the thing is, there’s good progress with how the speed builds up. I’m still curious to find out how this engine will perform when the Zenix is loaded with seven people.
So, There’s No Need To Get The Hybrid?
The Zenix as it is is already very good, and if you’re on a limited budget, then you’ll be content with the 2.0 V. I’ll also go straight to the point that even if the 2.0 Q Hybrid will be much more fuel efficient despite having more total system output at 186 horses, it won’t be enough to recuperate the added cost of this variant over the 2.0 V. But, if you’re comparing the 2.0 Q Hybrid to an equivalently-priced midsize body-on-frame SUV, then you’ll indeed benefit from significant fuel savings and lower running costs.
Running costs aside, if you want the Zenix at its best foot forward, then the 2.0 Q Hybrid is the way to go. If you’ve seen my reviews of Toyota’s hybrid vehicles, all of them benefit from better response and improved refinement, and that likewise applies to the 2.0 Q Hybrid.
The 2.0 Q Hybrid’s 113-horsepower electric motors already make the Zenix extremely responsive when accelerating from a stop. There’s no lag to your throttle inputs, and as with every Toyota hybrid, the transition between electric, and electric plus gas is always seamless. The electric motors alone already produce decent numbers, and as a result, it’s effortless for the Zenix to cruise in pure electric mode in the city or when coasting on highways. As a result, the lack of vibrations during those circumstances makes the Zenix 2.0 Q Hybrid significantly more refined not just compared to the 2.0 V, but more so the diesel Innova.
The electric motors also fill in the gaps in the power band of the engine and the e-CVT, which is why despite not having that pin-to-your-seat sensation of the diesel Innova, the Zenix 2.0 Q Hybrid delivers power in a smooth, consistent manner. Once again, the e-CVT skews more towards holding the revs of the engine, but that’s the e-CVT doing its job of making the engine sing at its most appropriate torque band. While the sensation is not as punchy as the diesel Innova, its 0-100 kph times tell otherwise. At least from Toyota India’s numbers, the hybrid reaches the century mark in 9.5 seconds, compared to the 2.8 diesel which takes more than 10 seconds to reach 100 kph.
As for fuel economy, this is just a one-day drive around the area so this won’t allow us to give a proper fuel economy number. If my history with Toyota’s hybrids were to be a basis, I expect the Zenix 2.0 Q Hybrid to do 18-20 km/l if you’re alone, because this will surely drop to around 15 km/l if it’s loaded with seven people.
I’m Interested! Can I Already Buy One?
Yes, you can, and you better head to your nearest Toyota dealer ASAP as the 2023 Toyota Zenix seems to be very popular among Filipino MPV buyers. However, this also leads me to understand why the Zenix deserves to have a different nameplate altogether. For one, by switching to the more posh, more sophisticated, albeit less rugged FWD TNGA-C platform, the Zenix has transformed into a more affordable Honda Odyssey or Kia Carnival rival of sorts. The driving manners heavily skew on being comfortable and refined, thus introducing a whole new customer base to Toyota’s popular MPV.
On the other hand, the Innova’s target demographic has always been broad. It’s comfortable enough for most families, but at the same time, the body-on-frame RWD platform has made it rugged and tough enough to endure the poor road conditions of those living in less developed areas of the Philippines. For customers living in such areas, the TNGA-C Zenix will be too soft to endure such road conditions on a daily basis.
What Toyota Motor Philippines has done is offer two completely unique MPVs that meet the needs of the two customer types as opposed to consolidating them into one MPV. The diesel Innova’s breadth of capabilities is great and all, but the Zenix is able to push the comfort and electrification goalpost for the segment even further. As a reminder, here are the prices of the new 2023 Toyota Zenix
- Zenix 2.0 V: P1,670,000
- Zenix 2.0 Q Hybrid: P1,953,000