Namaste from New Delhi,India! Would love some advice on whether to buy a Toyota sedan or a mini van?


#1

Howdy! Namaste! Ni Hao Ma ?

Hey folks. I used to be in Houston, and now I live in New Delhi, India.
A long long time ago, on car talk…I had the great fortune of being advised by Docnick and CSA and some other really helpful people on cartalk.com . I bought a wonderful little 2007 model Chevy Cobalt for 5000 USD in 2009, and sold it for 4800 USD when I left the USA in 2011. It was a great little car, a stick shift.
I could not have had the excellent experience of car buying that I had, without the help of Docnick and some other great people on here. Common Sense Anser, The Same Mountainbike, and others whom I miss.
So, again, in 2013, I come to the most reliable source of good car advice on the planet……

My father’s company usually buys him a company car, and he is in the market for one at this time. What is being offered at this time, and my dad is keen on, are the Toyota Corolla Altis, and the Toyota Innova.

So, we currently own a Honda Civic [also known as the Honda City, here in India] and a small little Suzuki Wagon R, which is roughly the size and performance of the Honda Jazz/Fit.
We love both of the cars, and are going to keep them even as we buy the newer one. The Honda City is automatic transmission; the Suzuki is a stick shift. Both the proposed Toyota’s are stick shifts; the Innova minivan is a diesel engine, while the Corolla Altis is a gasoline version.
So, the Corolla Altis is the same old Corolla which has been sold by Toyota since 1964. The Toyota Innova mini-van, interestingly, has never been introduced in the North American market, even though it has been selling in East Asia/Indonesia since 1976; Toyota has some other minivan models in the USA, I am not sure which ones.
So, we test drove both of the Toyota models. They cost around the same rough figure of 20,000 USD, give or take a few.
The Innova station Wagon has a beautiful ride. Its soft. Feels like riding a pillow down the highway/city roads. The Innova diesel has a flat torque curve and a constant torque of 200 N.m from 1000rpm till 4000 rpm (pretty nice)

The Toyota Corolla has more power on tap (138 bhp) than the Innova, and a weight of 1200 kg, vs. 100 bhp and 1600 kg on the Innova. The Corolla has lower torque, and at a higher RPM; 160 N.m at 4000 rpm. Thus the Innova is torquier, and runs similar to the Corolla….but…The Corolla is a faster burning petrol engine as well; hence, the Corolla feels more responsive than the Innova…but the Innova is also pretty decent.

One standout quality of the Innova, is that its really soft ride. Indian roads are generally, quite undulated, and potholed at times….the Innova takes them in its stride like NOTHING else. The Corolla on the other hand, is just a slight improvement on what we have currently; the Honda City A/T on the potholes. The Honda’s genes point it in the way of a precise, better handling ride. The Toyota (Corolla as well as Innova) is more ambivalent; it waffles about the road, its steering responds after a small lag.

So, dear friends, I request you to give me advice about which car to buy from both of them:
Innova

  • es:
  1. Great passenger ride. Soft , comfortable. Good AC. Vents at the back seats
  2. Diesel, is cheaper than Gasoline in India. [ Socialism means that the farming sector gets fuel subsidies to transport produce to the market]
  3. Lots of room. Plenty of space for my parents to have many people hop in!
    -s
  4. Airbags: Only Driver side
  5. Gear throw is large.
  6. 2.5 liter engine, diesel. Gearbox vibrates a lot, gives a slight Taxi feel to the driving.
  7. Taxi image in India; since every self respecting ‘people-mover’ and his uncle in India has a Toyota Innova minivan.

Corolla;
+

  1. Better looking sedan according to my dad. He says that it looks cooler, and now that he is more senior in his organization, and many of his peers have Corollas, this will be a good buy.
  2. Good pickup and more get up and go .
  3. Both passenger and driver airbags. The Innova does not have passenger airbags. No side impact airbags in either of them.
  4. In fact….in India, it is not compulsory to have them , even now….and not many people have an issue with this lack of safety-people are less aware—also they use seat belts and are happy at the slower speeds that most Indian driving takes place at—the potholes don’t allow for too much speeding as you can imagine
  1. Less comfort. You feel the potholes whereas in the Innova you don’t feel any of them.
  2. Not much of an upgrade from our Honda City. And the Honda City is an A/T, so I expect my Dad to use the Honda City more, even after buying a new Corolla!
  3. Not much of a capability leap above our Honda City.
  4. Less gas mileage than the Innova. 9 km per liter…Innova is 10 km per liter on an average. {multiply by 3 to get an approximate idea of USA gas MPG}
  5. Diesel is 50 Rupees per liter….Petrol is 75 Rupees per liter. Innova is thus 50 % per liter cheaper to run, immediately. Transport lobby in India is strong, and it is not expected that the price of diesel will be raised a lot.

Our requirements from a car, to be honest, are perfectly met with the current 2 cars that we have. My father , mother, grandmother live together and me and my sister are nearby. A five seater, the Honda City, fits us okay with luggage as well. Our needs are modest.

Thank you very much in advance for your well intentioned advice and comments, and apologies for a long post. Cheers!

[And I will honor my promise of beer to Docknick and CSA whenever and wherever I meet them……!]


#2

this comment is a bookmark, not a bump…


#3

Does your father need to transport customers for work? If so, the minivan is better suited for that activity. When just the family rides, I’m sure you all will be more comfortable in the minivan. As long as you don’t have the same color paint as taxis do, no one will mistake it for one.


#4

To jtsanders’ good advice, I will add that I know somebody in The Philippines who owns a new-ish Innova, and she is very pleased with it.

In addition to the greater passenger-carrying capacity of the Innova, that vehicle also has better ground clearance than a Corolla/Altis, which could be advantageous on roads that are…less than good.


#5

Hi, Namaste,

Well my advice, without any question, is going with the diesel wagon. We drive a Chrysler minivan and having the space and comfort it has makes it a great ride in my book. It is also all wheel drive to get down the slippery roads during winter season. Something I guess you don’t really have to worry about.

Since you are in India I have to ask, have you seen any tigers in the wild (from a safe distance at least)? I live in about the other extreme climate, in Alaska. I saw a polar bear while on the job last week.


#6

Since this is a “company” provided car I’m not sure who is paying for the fuel, your father or the company?

If your father buys the fuel I’d go with the diesel van/wagon, just on basis of fuel costs.

If the company buys the fuel then dad can enjoy the “prestige” of the Corolla. At this point in his life an ego boost can be a good thing.


#7

I am curious. The posting says it is the father’s job; the father’s car, and he prefers the Corolla. So, why are we discussing it? Is that the culture in that nation?


#8

jtsanders Long Lost Magliozzi Brother
September 15
Does your father need to transport customers for work? If so, the minivan is better suited for that activity. When just the family rides, I’m sure you all will be more comfortable in the minivan. As long as you don’t have the same color paint as taxis do, no one will mistake it for one.
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No, he does not transport people for a living. For the family, yes, I agree that the minivan is a great, comfortable ride. Its fantastic to be seated in, as a passenger.

VDCdriverVDCdriver Long Lost Magliozzi Brother
September 15

To jtsanders’ good advice, I will add that I know somebody in The Philippines who owns a new-ish Innova, and she is very pleased with it.

In addition to the greater passenger-carrying capacity of the Innova, that vehicle also has better ground clearance than a Corolla/Altis, which could be advantageous on roads that are…less than good.
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Interestingly, if you look up the web specs of both the cars, they are IDENTICAL in length breadth and ground clearance. The roof height of the minivan is much more than the Corolla of course. But the rides, even with the same ground clearance could not be more different! The minivan is a soft cushion, whereas the corolla is much harder.
CougarCougar Junior Grease Monkey
September 15 edited September 15
Hi Namaste,

Well my advice, without any question, is going with the diesel wagon. We drive a Chrysler minivan and having the space and comfort it has makes it a great ride in my book. It is also all wheel drive to get down the slippery roads during winter season. Something I guess you don’t really have to worry about.

Since you are in India I have to ask, have you seen any tigers in the wild (from a safe distance at least)? I live in about the other extreme climate, in Alaska. I saw a polar bear while on the job last week.
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Wow! I haven’t seen Polar bears in the wild in my life, though I do hope to travel enough to do so. India is highly bio-diverse, and yes, I have seen MANY tigers in the wild on my trips to Jim Corbett National Park, and the Kanha-Kisli wildlife sanctuary. I recommend travelling to India; its very different from the US, and for most Americans who enjoy spicy food, India, in general, will give your life a spicier flavor. I was living in Houston for 5 years….and I was a little unhappy. It wasn’t until I got home, I realized that I was missing the SPICE of life. 
UncleTurbo Senior Grease Monkey
1:33AM
Since this is a “company” provided car I’m not sure who is paying for the fuel, your father or the company?

If your father buys the fuel I’d go with the diesel van/wagon, just on basis of fuel costs.

If the company buys the fuel then dad can enjoy the “prestige” of the Corolla. At this point in his life an ego boost can be a good thing.
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Yes, the company BUYS the fuel too.

Interestingly, the Corolla is 9 kmpl and Petrol costs us 75 rupees per liter. Thus, driving each mile costs us 20 US cents = 0.20 USD per mile.
The Innova is 10 kmpl of diesel and diesel is cheaper than petrol in India, at 50 rupees per liter. Driving each mile costs us 0.13 USD.
Dad’s peers all have the Corolla Altis, except one who has the Innova…so yeah…it is more of a “cool car” than the minivan.
irlandes Junior Grease Monkey
1:40AM
I am curious. The posting says it is the father’s job; the father’s car, and he prefers the Corolla. So, why are we discussing it? Is that the culture in that nation?

Well…kids have more of a say in the lives of parents and vice a verse, in India.


#9

@houstonrice I’ll take you up on the beer, but the last time I was in India (Delhi) was in May of 2009 working on an oil project for Rahjasthan. It might be a while before I’m back there, but thanks for the offer.


#10

Thanks for the reply @houstonrice.

I think you are really fortunate to have seen tigers in the wild. That is just awesome. Polar bears are pretty neat also but a tiger is something else. We have had some black and brown bears wander in the yard and neighborhood here in Anchorage this summer looking for whatever they can find to eat. They usually don’t bother anyone except if they can get into a garbage can that has easy access to it.


#11

@houstonrice, when I asked if your father drove customers around, I didn’t mean as a primary job. If he was a taxi or limo driver, I am sure that you would have said so. I was thinking he might visit customers and entertain them; lunch, for instance. I am not sure of business customs in India, but as you may know taking customers to lunch or dinner is common in the USA.


#12

If family has more of a say in India, I’d tell your dad to get what he likes best. Either vehicle sounds like a good choice.


#13

I’d go with Diesel. It is more economical, holds more people, plus we don’t have that vehicle here. My last trip overseas, I loved the idea of driving something from London that I can’t drive here. So against my wife’s wishes, we rented a Opel Vector, right hand drive 6 speed manual. It was a little crazy driving on the “other” side of the road, shifting gears with my left hand, and trying to figure out if I am turning into the right or wrong lane. Fun and slightly dangerous. Great memories.


#14

So, just today, dear folks, my dad decided to go in for the “cooler” car , the Toyota Corolla rather than the Innova minivan. It looks better, and like one of the posters said, at age 60, some men like to go in for a “cooler” car. I’ll probably buy the Innova minivan when I get to having a family or something…

As a passenger the Innova is great…but as a driver, the Corolla is better.

Thank you for your comments. Docknick. Yes, I am grateful for your advice that you gave me just about 4 years ago. I bought my vehicle on October 10th 2009 in Houston.

India and Tigers are great. Managing a 1.3 billion strong, highly heterogenous population is a tough task, and the govt. of India does a poor job of it…

Despite that, India is old as Methusela, and the customs and traditions abide. Like I mentioned in my last post, life here, is extremely FLAVOURFUL. It might be a good idea to come take a look at what the fuss is all about in India, from the USA.

China, on the other hand, follows the US quite well. There, a culture of mirroring is in vogue. Thus, traveling from the USA to China is not as disparate and shocking, as traveling from the USA to India.

Come folks…come one come all!

And thanks again for the good words of advice.