Buy or Hold: Wait for the new Toyota Innova or buy the Nissan Serena?

Buy or Hold: Wait for the new Toyota Innova or buy the Nissan Serena?

When it comes to choosing a perfect car for the family, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your money, and that means comfort and convenience in the form of features. For those car buyers who do not like sedans and feel cramped in 7-seater SUVs, the MPVs are a good option; which are practical for everyday use, versatile in handling passengers and cargo, and are offered at relatively affordable price tags. The two such popular MPVs available in Malaysia are the Toyota Innova and Nissan Serena

In the local market, Toyota offers the second generation, locally-assembled Innova since 2016 in three variants, which are now set to receive a mid-life facelift after over four years. The update has added a few new features to the equipment list, as well as some cosmetic enhancements to make it look fresh. The Japanese automaker has already revealed the 2021 Toyota Innova price and specifications, along with opening orders books for reservation.

Toyota Innova front and rear

Well, on the other side of the pool, we have the Nissan Serena, which is again a Japanese MPV. The latest iteration of the Serena arrived in Malaysia in 2018 and is sold as a mild hybrid CKD vehicle. Now in its fifth generation, the MPV is available in two trim levels.

Below is a direct comparison of the two C-segment MPVs in terms of design, dimensions, features, safety, and affordability that might help you in deciding whether you should wait for the 2021 Toyota Innova launch or buy the already available Nissan Serena.

Design and dimensions

First introduced in Indonesia in October last year, the Innova facelift design updates are mostly reserved for the front fascia, where we can see a more aggressive trapezoidal grille with five horizontal slats and wider chrome surroundings. Added to the styling updates are a more angular bumper, sharper-looking LED headlights, new fog lamps housings, and dark grey metallic diamond-cut 17-inch alloy wheels. At the rear, lies the same L-shaped taillights, however, a new black tailgate garnish rounded the updates.

Nissan Serena rear

Coming to the Nissan Serena design, it tends to please most of the buyers with Its biggest attractive element and that is the split LED headlight and turn indicator arrangement at the front. Other noteworthy features include Nissan’s signature new V-motion front grille with chrome garnish, sculpted front bumper, horizontally-placed LED fog lights, and diamond-cut 15-inch alloy wheels. Chrome garnishing on the tailgate and vertically-arranged tail lamp clusters illuminate the rear face of the MPV.

Size-wise, the Nissan Serena is longer and taller than the Toyota’s counterpart and also has a larger wheelbase, leading to better comfort inside the vehicle. However, the Innova is wider that also makes the seating comfortable. The boot space of the two models is volumetric enough to accommodate heavy luggage.


2021 Toyota Innova

Nissan Serena S-Hybrid


4,735 mm

4770 mm


1,830 mm

1740 mm


1,795 mm

1740 mm


2,750 mm

2860 mm


The 2021 Innova continues to be powered by the same mechanical setup and that’s a 2.0-litre 1TR-FE naturally-aspirated engine, whereas the Serena gets the energy from an MR20DD four-cylinder unit mated to an S-Hybrid system.

Nissan Serena engine

Check out the detailed specs below.


2021 Toyota Innova

Nissan Serena S-Hybrid


2.0-litre inline four cylinder

2.0-litre 4-cylinder

Maximum power

139 PS at 5,600 rpm

150 PS at 6000 rpm

Maximum torque

183 Nm at 4,000 rpm

200 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm


6-speed AT


Fuel economy

11 kmpl

14.2 kmpl

In the above table, we can see Serena’s powertrain churns out higher power and torque with the same engine capacity, and also consumes less fuel in comparison to the Innova. The credit goes to the S-Hybrid System that offers features like ECO Motor with electric power regenerator and secondary battery, as well as idling start/stop system.


Toyota Innova cabin


2021 Toyota Innova

Nissan Serena S-Hybrid

Infotainment system

9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 

6.75-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Rear display


10.1-inch roof-mounted LCD (in top variant)

Instrument panel



Wireless charging pad



Air-conditioning system

Single-zone with rear vents

Dual-zone with rear vents

Ambient lighting



Keyless entry and push start button



Seat adjustability

8-way power-adjustable driver seat 

Manually adjustable Zero Gravity inspired seats

Sliding doors


Hands-free power-operated


Soft-closing function

Dual-opening operation

Both MPVs are loaded with chock-full of hi-tech and comfort features; Toyota’s model equips a bigger touchscreen and a few advanced bits, whereas the Serena has a display screen in the second row as well as sliding doors, making a world of difference especially for parents with toddlers.

Nissan Serena slidding door


In terms of safety, the Toyota Innova specs sheet includes seven airbags, vehicle stability control with traction control, ABS with EBD and BA, hill-start assist control, and a 3D Panoramic View Monitor. In top-spec trims, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert will also be available now. 

Nissan has also kitted the Serena with most of the vital safety bits that one expects in a modern people-hauler. These include six airbags, vehicle dynamic control, traction control system, hill start assist, ABS with EBD and brake assist, around-view monitor, moving object detection, front-facing digital video recorder, and intelligent driver alert assists.

Nissan Serena cabin

Price (on-the-road excluding insurance and including SST exemption)

2021 Toyota Innova Price

Nissan Serena S-Hybrid Price

Toyota Innova 2.0E

RM 111,622

Nissan Serena Highway Star

RM 142,099

Toyota Innova 2.0G

RM 121,483

Nissan Serena Premium Highway Star

RM 152,099

Toyota Innova 2.0X

RM 129,677


The price-comparison reveals that the Nissan Serena comes at a premium over the Toyota Innova price. In our view, both models are equally good; the matter of difference in features is justified by the asking prices

Also read: 2021 Toyota new cars: What to expect?

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Toyota Innova vs Nissan Serena Comparison

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Nissan Serena
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Innova vs Serena

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