I may be betraying my age here, but I still remember a time when a family car almost always meant a four-door sedan. It was used for everything from picking up the kids to school, going grocery shopping, running a few errands and serving as the default transport around town. It was the go-to and do-all vehicle.

These days, while the purpose remains the same, the vehicle itself has changed shape entirely. Blame it on the Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) and cars like the Toyota Revo that have opened many family's eyes to the flexibility of an MPV. Not only could it meet all of the family's needs, it also served well as the default out of town vehicle and, for some, the backbone of a fledgling family business.

And for those that wanted to add a little pizzazz to the workhorse, the Sport Runner variant or SR was created. It had boasted of special trim exclusive features, like a sportier wheel arches, unique wheels and even a special livery. Quite cleverly, the SR was positioned just above the much sought after mid-level spec, as any family / business man yearns for a car that can do it all and still earn some street cred with the help of body kit.

Learning from the lessons of the past, today's default family car, the Innova has also introduced an SR model. This time, exclusively for the diesel models and rightly so. The SR is positioned squarely in the center of the Innova's 5 variant line-up. It too includes many of the amenities like back up sensors, power features, a multi-information display and even some wood graining. The only thing it lacks are things like captain chairs and some extra chrome molding.

True to form, the SR is also the sporty variant. It's evident even from a distance with the clearer lower in clearance because of the wide low profile tires and side skirt. Overfender mouldings, sporty wheels and a spoiler at the back add some additional go-fast touches.

Other than the superficial additions, it's still the same ever-reliable Innova underneath. It can turn from family car to cargo hauler in just two steps (fold the third row to the side and fold the second row down). The powerful turbo diesel will easily haul a full load of people or cargo. The high clearance means it can tackle even the worst of the city's roads with little hesitation. The sheer number of these cars practically guarantees the easy availability of parts. Best of all, it comes with the well known Toyota reliability reputation.

Just a week with this car saw it doing practically everything a regular family would do. It's done the grocery run, ferried the dogs to the vet (thanks to the easy folding seats), and even served as an impromptu school bus. Even moms had a drive as it's just as long as a regular station wagon but not as high as an SUV. And after a week full of various activities in and around the metro, half a tank of fuel still remained.

It's no surprise that this car is has closed the gap with the sedan segment if it hasn't overtaken it already. There's very little an Innova can't do. It's that daunting flexibility that has quickly endeared it to the every family (and more recently, my family as well). It's looking like the next family car will be a Sport Runner and I'm not surprised why.
  • Make:Toyota
  • Model:Innova SR
  • Engine:2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 D4D CRDi Turbo
  • Max Power:102 PS @ 3600 rpm
  • Max Torque:260 Nm @ 1600-2400 rpm
  • Transmission:4-Speed A/T
  • Price as Tested: