Tata Safari vs Mahindra XUV700 vs Toyota Innova Hycross: Space And Practicality Compared

For roughly Rs 35 lakh, you get to buy vehicles that not only fulfill your need for a seven-seater but also manage to give you a little extra in terms of the feel-good factor. This budget has quite a few options, including the Toyota Innova Hycross, Mahindra XUV700, and Tata Safari. Mahindra has made minor changes to the XUV700’s features list, while Tata has given the Safari a comprehensive facelift, which makes this battle even more interesting. Which one of these large family cars is the best for you?


From a visual standpoint, it’s easy to favor the Tata Safari. The SUV’s already large personality now stands out with the new design elements such as the new bumpers, connected lighting with animations, and large 19-inch alloy wheels. Tata is also offering unique color options, including the bronze shade you see in pictures, which ups the road presence considerably.

With the 2024 update, Mahindra is offering the XUV700 in an all-black avatar that rids it of any chrome. Other than this, the XUV remains visually unchanged. The large headlights with fang-like daytime running lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, and flush door handles are the highlights here.

Toyota has managed to offer a healthy blend of MPV and SUV-like styling with the Hycross. However, in this company, it looks most van-like. This is apparent when you view it from the side, especially since even the large 18-inch alloy wheels look small for the bulk of the car. Nonetheless, this design is clean and is sure to age gracefully.

Boot Space

With all three rows in place, the Toyota Innova Hycross emerges as the clear winner in terms of boot space. We were able to fit a cabin-size and medium-sized trolley bag comfortably. In contrast, the Tata Safari and Mahindra XUV700 have next to no space in the boot. You can, at best, squeeze in a couple of laptop bags or a duffle bag.

With the third row folded, all three vehicles are capable of shifting houses if required. There’s massive room that can take pretty much all the luggage you can manage. Here, too, we’d give preference to the Innova Hycross, as its luggage loading area is the widest.

Third Row Space and Experience

Before discussing third-row space, let’s tackle the ease of getting in and out of the third row. Here, the XUV700 comes out on top for its one-touch tumble functionality that’s available on the passenger’s side. This reduces the effort of moving the second row out of the way. The second-row seats on the Innova Hycross and Safari don’t tumble forward. However, since the Hycross’ seat has more travel and opens up a larger space to enter the third row than the Safari, we’d rate it better. In the Safari’s case, it’s easier to walk in between the second row to access the last row of seats.

As far as space is concerned, it’s the Innova Hycross that takes the top spot. The amount of headroom, footroom, and shoulder room on offer is simply superior. Also, since the second row has a large range of adjustment, finding a comfortable position here is not a task. Overhead AC vents are provided, which are most effective in cooling the occupants.

Compared to the Hycross, both the Safari and the XUV700 have you sitting in a ‘knees-up’ position. In terms of absolute space, the Safari is marginally better in terms of knee room and headroom. However, there’s not enough space under the second-row seat to comfortably place your foot.

The XUV700 has the least amount of third-row space here. What makes it worse is that the second row cannot be adjusted at all to make more room for the occupants. Hence, this row is best used by kids for longer journeys, though adults may adjust here for small in-city trips.

Second Row Space and Experience

Getting in and out of the second row of the Toyota Innova Hycross is the easiest. You can simply walk inside the cabin. You have to climb into the cabin of the other two, with the Safari requiring the most effort. If elders in the family are to use the Tata, we’d recommend installing side steps for their convenience.

Once inside, it’s the Innova that impresses yet again with the brilliant space. There’s so much range in the seat that at its farthest position, it might be tough for you to reach the front seats. In fact, it’s quite easy to have a six-footer seated in every row of the Innova Hycross without discomfort. This is the most second-row focused vehicle here, and it shows in the powered recline, the ottoman and comfortable cushioning of the seat. There are individual armrests and a fold-out tray in the center for added convenience. Overhead AC vents, and sunshade for the windows make this cabin a comfortable place to relax in.

The Tata Safari comes in second, with better knee room and sense of space compared to the Mahindra XUV700. There are unique features such as comfort headrests and seat ventilation (captain seat version only) — which are great if you like catching a quick nap on your drives. The seats have prominent bolsters which hold you snug. However, if you’re XL-sized, you might find yourself spilling out of the seat just a little.

On the flip side, the newly introduced captain seats on the XUV700 are flatter and wider, better for those with larger frames. However, the tradeoff here is in terms of knee room which is slightly lower than that of the Safari. Mahindra could’ve also added rear sunshades. Another small hiccup is the positioning of the AC vent, which invariably ends up cooling your knees more than anything else.

First Row / Cabin Experience

In terms of design, quality and that feeling of ‘money-well-spent’, it’s surprisingly the Tata Safari that delivers. The dashboard layout is the most appealing, the selection of materials is the richest and the fit and finish is the most consistent here. Tata is also offering multiple personalities in different variants, so nothing feels like a watered-down version. If it’s a sense of luxury you’re after, the Safari will grab your attention the most.

Mahindra’s XUV700 comes in second with a straightforward, almost German-car-like design. This design focuses on functionality, and quality levels are average and acceptable for the price. Mahindra could’ve done better by offering a soft-touch material for the top half of the dash and experimenting with ambient lighting and reducing the clutter in the center console for a more modern look.

In last place comes the Toyota Innova Hycross that feels like a letdown in terms of plastic quality and fit and finish. There’s an attempt to add an upmarket feel with the leatherette insert on the dashboard and door pads, but it doesn’t feel enough. Considering the Hycross is the most expensive vehicle in this comparison, you will be left wanting for more in terms of the feel-good factor.

What the Innova does best, however, is offer the best driving position. The slim A-pillar, short dashboard, and high seating position will make even a new driver feel comfortable very quickly. Both, the XUV700 and Safari, offer a proper SUV-like driving position where you see the bonnet span out in front of you. It’s easier to get used to the XUV700 than the Safari where everything seems XL-sized.


Given the price point, there are a whole lot of features that are common between the three vehicles. The top models of all these cars get features such as

  • Keyless Entry
  • Push-button Start
  • Climate Control
  • Rear-AC Vents
  • Powered Driver’s Seat
  • Automatic Headlamps
  • Panoramic Sunroof
  • Front Seat Ventilation
  • 360° Camera
  • Electric Parking Brake

Tata Safari features a powered co-driver’s seat that the other two miss out on. Similarly, both the Safari and the Innova get a powered tailgate that the XUV700 does not.

It’s tough to split the three based on their features, but there’s a clear distinction between them in terms of the infotainment experience.


Top-spec versions of all vehicles feature six airbags (Safari and XUV700 get 7), ABS with EBD, and a host of electronic safety assists such as traction control, hill assist, and stability control. Another highlight is that all vehicles feature Level 2 ADAS that includes features such as emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. We like that all three systems have been calibrated very well for Indian traffic scenarios. They’re genuinely usable in the real world, more so on open highways.

In terms of crash test scores, the Tata Safari has been awarded a full five stars by Global NCAP and Bharat NCAP; the Mahindra XUV700 has secured a five-star rating from the Global NCAP (note: older test method) while the Toyota Innova Hycross does not have a crash test rating as of publishing this report.

Drive Experience

Here’s a quick look at what’s on offer with each vehicle

Tata Safari

  • Engine: 2-litre Diesel
  • Gearbox: 6MT/6AT

Mahindra XUV700

  • Engine: 2-litre Petrol / 2.2-litre Diesel
  • Gearbox: 6MT/6AT

Toyota Innova Hycross

  • Engine: 2-litre Petrol / 2-litre Petrol Hybrid
  • Gearbox: CVT


Toyota Innova Hycross

Pick this if

  • You want a petrol-powered car. The blend of performance and efficiency has to be experienced to be believed.
  • You want the best rear seat experience that money can buy.
  • You want the most practical seven/eight-seater in this budget. In-cabin space, boot space, and in-cabin practicality are the best in this class.

Tata Safari

Pick this if

  • You want a proper SUV design that commands respect on the road.
  • Require a 5+2 seater but are unwilling to compromise too much on space.
  • You want the best features list and infotainment experience in the category.

Mahindra XUV700

Pick this if

  • You want a little bit of everything in terms of features, space, and tech.
  • You want a quick turbo-petrol option or all-wheel drive.
  • You want the most value-for-money package between the three.

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