Toyota Innova Ground Clearance Problems – here is what we did

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In 2008, we bought a brand new Toyota Innova.  The Innova is one of Toyota’s “Asian utility vehicles” (AUV), along with the Fortuner.  The Innova is not available in developed country markets, but is very popular in the developing world.  It can carry seven persons and has a very economical 2.5 liter diesel engine.  We liked the Innova because it was not as hard riding as some of its competitors, especially the Izuzu Crosswind.  We have had very good luck with our Innova except for one problem.

Not long after we bought the Innova, we bought our property and built a house.  The property was at the end of a dirt road.  Had we known what we know today we would have bought a vehicle better suited to rough roads, perhaps a four wheel drive vehicle.  Our Innova does fine getting in and out on our road during the dry season, but our road really goes downhill during the rainy season.  Basically, we were trapped at home during the worst weather.

We considered various options; buying a 4WD multi-cab in addition to the Innova and of course trading in the Innova on another vehicle more suited to traversing mud holes.  We hesitated pulling the trigger on these options because we liked our Innova and we did not want to spend more money.  For most of the year our Innova was fine for our purposes.

So we bought four new Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires for about P4,100 each, thinking that this would be a worthwhile and economical alternative to a new vehicle — if it helped.  Besides, our Innova had 30,000 km on the odometer so buying new tires made sense.


The upshot is that the small increase in clearance was a help but not really a solution.   We recommend this small step to any Innova owner who finds lack of ground clearance to be a problem.  We have not noticed any negatives such as wheel well clearance, even on tight turns.  We did consider going one size larger, 205/75/15” but did hear reports that these can cause clearance problems.  The Innova just does not really have enough wheel well clearance for bigger wheels or tires.

Ultimately, we decided to sell our Innova and buy a 2008 Kia Sorento which has more ground clearance and four wheel drive.  We further increased the ground clearance by installing a Daystar 2 1/2″ lift kit.  Now we can go in and out of our house under virtually any conditions.  We sleep better knowing that in case of a medical or other emergency we can get out.

For those of you living on better roads, an Isuzu Crosswind might be a better choice than an Innova.  It comes with bigger tires and more ground clearance.  The Innova, otherwise and excellent vehicle, can have ground clearance problems even on Iloilo’s rough city roads.

Comments (2) Write a comment

  1. Thanks Bob for the hints. Our Innova has the same issue when parking facing sidewalks, or crossing a ditch in the city to reach an elevated parking slot. And the tires are due for change soon; 40,000 km approaching.

    Best regards from the neighborhood village 🙂


  2. Dear Bob,

    Thank You for this article. Many years ago I would travel to Dumangas, another fishing town(etc.) in Iloilo. My father owned a fishpond (milkfish) and I would go to help in the supervision during harvest seasons. I asked my father to provide me with a 4WD, which he did. A 4WD vehicle is ideal in many Philippine roads. The downside is the gas consumption. I suggest you buy a “well-maintained 4WD in Iloilo. I can asked a very good friend to help you find a used 4WD. My friend moved back to Panay Island (who owns a Auto Repair Shop in Queens, NY), and open a business in Boracay. He travels to Iloilo on a regular basis.
    (to help you with the search for a decent, reasonably priced 4WD.)
    – Suggestion: Do not sell or trade your other vehicle. Get a used 4WD
    It is ideal to have a back up vehicle, and the used 4WD is your back up. You only need it during rainy seasons or adverse weather conditions.
    Or I can asked my nephews to help you with the search. Most of my relatives owns 4WD vehicles. They live outside of Iloilo City.
    When I was in the Philippines I buy used cars/vehicles and “improved” them. Many of my friends in Iloilo owns auto repair shops. Buying brand new vehicles in the Philippines are expensive.
    While working as a Project Officer for CARE International, Philippines, I traveled in remote, dirt and mountainous areas of the Philippines. CARE provided their PO’s with a TOYOTA 4WD + a driver. That was a good experience seeing the places not many “city kid” had the opportunity to see. I was there during the Marcos Regime and after the regime was toppled in 1986 – the peace and order was extremely challenging and volatile.
    Things have changed. Thank you for the peaceful thought you have provided me. Ironically, it takes a “foreigner” (you are already an Ilonggo) like you, to open our minds, to see how beautiful Philippines is.
    I never wanted to travel abroad. But, my late mother was a bit concern about our politics and economic prospects in the Philippines during the 80’s. When I left in 1991 the pesos was $1= 61.02 pesos (exchange rate).

    Thank You again,



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