Review: Idle start/stop feature on my Innova Crysta diesel automatic

The Start/Stop feature helped the engine stay Off for 167 hours and 52 minutes in 63,321 km of driving which translates to close to 2.65 hours every 1000 km which is a significant number!

BHPian amalji recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I have been using the idle start/stop feature on my Innova Crysta Diesel Automatic for the last 4.5 years (63,000 km). Let me try to give a review on the feature.

When does it get activated? Or in other words, when does it automatically shut down the engine?

When one of the below conditions are met.

  • You stop at a traffic light with brakes depressed firmly.
  • You stop at a traffic light and then change the gear lever to P regardless of whether the brake pedal is still depressed or not.

Are there any exceptions to the above rule?

Yes, listed below.

  • When the battery doesn’t have enough charge.
  • When the steering position is not straight.
  • When you are on a steep incline.
  • When the cabin temperature is not within an acceptable range of the target temperature set.
  • When driver seatbelts are unfastened.

When does it restart the engine after it automatically shuts it off?

  • If the gear lever is in P, whenever you depress the brake pedal.
  • If the gear lever is on D, whenever you release the brake pedal.
  • If the gear lever is shifted to any position other than P or D.
  • If the steering wheel is slightly moved.
  • If the cabin temperature is not within the acceptable range of the target temperature set.
  • If the battery charge is below the unacceptable threshold.
  • If the start/stop timeout is reached. In Innova Touring Sport, there are 2 settings for this. If you put it on short, the engine restarts after 30 seconds. If you put it on long, the engine restarts after 2 minutes and 30 seconds. PS: I always use the long setting. The short can be very irritating with the engine stopping and starting a lot at a traffic signal.

Are there any scenarios when you must remember to turn off the Auto Start/Stop?

Yes, when you are wading through flood waters. The last thing you would want is for the engine to shut off with a silencer dipped in water! Personally, I have turned it off around 3 – 5 times in the last 4.5 years of usage when I had to drive through the really bad Kerala flood waters.

Do I like this feature?

I think I should answer this question in phases.

When I was about to buy the car, I got a heads up from the showroom that this feature might be disabled due to issues. I was praying that it gets disabled more because of my anxiety about durability concerns.

During the first week of driving, I had a lot of anxiety about whether this thing will not restart when it is required. I was also worried about blocking others behind me due to a lag in starting and getting a move on.

In the first month of driving, I was still getting used to this, especially in the bumper-to-bumper traffic situations in Bangalore.

In spite of my scepticism about this feature, the reason why I continued experimenting with it was for 2 reasons.

  • As a pedestrian, I always hated it when people keep the engine ON at a traffic signal. It destroys the air quality in that region especially if it’s a busy junction. I am someone who manually tries to switch it off whenever possible. But, at times I do not do that because I am lazy or if I am worried about the cabin temperature and comfort level not being maintained or because I do not want my music system to reboot during an engine restart. The engine starts/stop feature takes care of this problem beautifully. I don’t need to be bothered about cabin comfort, or my laziness and at the same time music system doesn’t reboot on engine restart in a start/stop mechanism as well.
  • One of my friends told me about the number of engine restarts a milk delivery van does on a typical day and that things are still very durable. This kind of reduced the anxiety of durability even though not fully. I kind of trusted the brand – Toyota to do their homework and testing before introducing something like this.

After getting used to this feature for around a month, I kind of started loving it for environmental reasons and continued to use it. Like the way, driving became something that we do without the need for consciously thinking about it, the start/stop system way of driving also became something like that for me now.

Now after using it for 4.5 years, what do I think of it.

I just love it! And the reasons are listed below.

  • Less contribution to air and sound pollution while idling in a traffic signal.
  • No Diesel clatter/vibrations, while you are at a traffic light and at the same time cabin comfort, is maintained and other electrical accessories like the music system work flawlessly as well.
  • Better efficiency (I’ll try to quantify this later)
  • Early warning for a battery failure. In all my cars that I have used before, the battery just fails without any warning one fine morning when I try to crank it up. On an automatic vehicle, this can be a terrible situation because you cannot even jump-start the car without another electrical source. But, with the Auto start/stop feature, I could get very clear signals when the battery started degrading. Normally, the “Battery charging warning” which disables the auto start/stop features comes On once in 30 drives or so where it kind of doesn’t turn off the vehicle even in a stop condition. This generally continues for 30 – 45 minutes or the entire duration of the drive. The frequency of this happening increases as the battery degrades to a point where every 2 trips, this starts happening. I took it to Toyota to check the battery and they mentioned there is nothing that they could find wrong with the battery. It was around 3.5 years old by then. But, I just asked them to change the battery and the problem went away. So, this is kind of a dependable early warning system for battery failure.

Do I still have concerns? Of course, yes and they are listed below.

  • The impact on the durability of parts is still unknown. I have only done 4.5 years / 63,000 km with it. For someone like me obsessed with durability, 4.5 years is not a big enough tenure for me to certify on the durability aspect.
  • Toyota could have some sensors to detect flood waters and disable the auto start/stop feature automatically rather than leaving it to the common sense of the driver.

How effective is it in reality?

The Start/Stop feature helped the engine stay Off for 167 hours and 52 minutes in 63,321 km of driving which translates to close to 2.65 hours every 1000 km which is a significant number!

The lifetime mileage ( as per MID ) for the Crysta is 12.3 km/l in spite of driving most of it in Bangalore. This, on a 2.8 L Diesel engine with 176 PS of power coupled with a torque converter automatic gearbox which steals efficiency and carries close to 2 tons of weight is remarkable is what I would say. And I’m punting that the start/stop feature had a huge role to play here.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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