• FOR TRIPS THAT MATTER

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    Innova20140128TOYOTA INNOVA 2.0 E AT
    ‘‘BEST road trip ever!”

    This was what my girlfriend (and some friends) kept on screaming while we were on the road aboard a Toyota Innova 2.0 E AT. And it really probably was the best road trip—for last year.

    That made me realize that spending quality time with loved ones is at its peak when safety and reliability go together, like they do in an Innova. Despite offering nothing much new from its previous variants, the Innova never fails to amaze.

    Bringing it to Bataan has proved its reliability after it conquered winding uphill sections, which lead to one of the most scenic and historic spots in the country.

    Before this particular road trip began, we have to meet some friends in a coffee shop on Edsa early in the morning. With me being absent-minded, it was only then that I asked my girlfriend how many people would be joining us in our short trip.

    “Three,” she answered. I let out a sigh of relief. But they also did not tell me they had planned to go to the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) on Mount Samat shortly after lunch.

    At the expressway, while they were busy chatting with each other, I got to have a good feel of the Innova. Power is not an issue for this MPV, thanks to its four-cylinder, 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 16 valves and DOHC, which delivers 102hp and 260Nm of torque. The ratings may not sound much— I floored the throttle pedal and it produced very little response—but they give oomph when needed. Anyway, why speed up on a vehicle that’s meant to carry those you love the most?

    The driver’s seat has enough legroom and headroom for my six-foot-plus physique, so the Innova has turned out to be a good replacement for the Toyota Revo. In the rear-view mirror, I can see that my three passengers, one of whom was also tall, were sitting comfortably in different positions, all relaxed and cozy. Seven or eight passengers (one in front, four in the middle, a couple or more kids in the third row) will still be comfortable inside this MPV, if not five people and lots of luggage in the back. Whichever way, room is a plus point for the Innova.

    Besides this, the Innova also has generous door openings, allowing for easy access to the cabin, and so passengers have no difficulty getting in and out.

    Upon reaching Bataan, we chatted briefly with the person we visited. It was then that I learned we would head to the shrine, and I happily obliged to take them there.

    The Innova 2.0 E proved stabile over the winding uphill roads that lead all the way to the Mount Samat National Shrine, where we spent a few hours breathing fresh and clean air. And the free time gave me the chance to check out the aesthetics of the car.

    Although there is not much difference from the early variants, the Innova has been transformed with a bolder, stronger appearance. Its arrow-inspired design blends well with the new front bumpers, rear combination lamps, rear bumper with reflectors, nine-spoke alloy wheels, chrome side mirrors and chrome door handles, making the Innova more appealing.

    Inside it, safety and comfort are personified. The car’s center console has an audio unit that is fully iPod-compatible. Its four-spoke steering wheel looks luxurious. Passengers in the rear get air-conditioning vents in the ceiling, which cool the cabin from both ends.

    After a while, it was time to take pictures. And one of the places that was good for some shots was the hairpin bend just before the parking spot at the top of Mount Samat. After this, I started praying that the Innova would not have a hard time driving over toward the safer side of the road. The car did so after, I believe, a mix of answered prayers and enough torque coming from its powertrain.

    For safety features, the Innova 2.0 E has dual airbags, side-impact beams, ABS and a backup sensor.

    On the way back to Manila, my passengers slept soundly, some of whom were even snoring. When they woke up, they told me they had fun, shouting in unison; “Best road trip ever!”

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