The Toyota C-HR is a brand new model for 2018. It was originally slated to be in the Scion line-up before Toyota nixed that brand in 2016. In case you’re wondering CH-R stands for Coupe High Rider, which is a bit confusing since it’s not a coupe and it’s not that high off the ground. It’s the smallest crossover for Toyota, fitting in below the RAV4.
It’s billed as a subcompact SUV/crossover, but it really doesn’t have the capability you’d expect in a crossover. It’s only available with front-wheel-drive and its ground clearance (5.9 inches) is about the same as a Camry (5.7 inches). You would definitely not want to take the C-HR off-roading.
The five-passenger C-HR comes in XLE and XLE Premium trims. Starting prices range from $22,500 to $24,350. It’s only available with front-wheel-drive; AWD is not available even as an option.
Only one engine is available: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers don’t look big on paper, and at times you’ll wish for more power. It’s pokey off the line and accelerating up to freeway speeds can take a while. The transmission is a CVT and it seems to whine in protest when pressed.
On the plus side, the C-HR handles fine in city traffic and its compact size makes it easy to maneuver in tight parking spaces. Wind and road noise are fairly noticeable, but the C-HR provides a pretty smooth ride over rough roads and bumps.
Most new vehicles now come standard with a rear view camera. The CH-R has one, but it’s the size of a postage stamp and is located on the rear view mirror. Visibility is poor to the back so I often wished for a full-size rear view camera anytime I put it in reverse, especially when maneuvering in busy parking lots.
There are three drive modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. Frankly, I didn’t notice much of a difference when switching modes.
EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 27 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 29 mpg. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior has a lot of plastic. It’s not unpleasant, but pretty minimalist. Although it seats five passengers, realistically you wouldn’t want to have more than four, and adults will be tight in the backseat with limited headroom due to the sloping roofline.
The C-HR comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense driver assistance technologies that are usually options on many competitors, including pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and dynamic radar cruise control. Optional features include blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Otherwise, technology is lacking. The touchscreen looks like it’s from a few years ago with dated graphics, and some functions require you to go through menus and submenus. Navigation isn’t available and there’s no Android Auto or Apply CarPlay. It doesn’t even have Toyota’s Entune audio suite.
There are 19 cubic feet of storage with both rows of seating in place and 36.4 cubes with the rear seats folded down. This is somewhat larger than average for the segment. The 60/40 split-folding rear seats fold flat so it’s easy to load and transport larger items. You’ll find more storage under the cargo floor and there are several cubbies and bins throughout the cabin.
Cute, sporty looks make it stand out from the crowd
Good for driving in busy city traffic
Lots of driver assistance features come standard; more are available as options.
A bit more cargo room than many rivals
Starting price is higher than many rivals
Engine could use more power
Postage stamp-size rear view camera
Visibility poor to the rear
Navigation and satellite radio aren’t available
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available
Cheap-looking interior with lots of plastic
Not much room in the rear seats
My tester starts at $24,350. The color is $395. The carpeted fllormats and cargo mat are $194. Mudguards are $129. Emergency assistance kit is $59. Universal tablet holder is $99. Rear bumper protector is $79. Wheel locks are $75. Delivery fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $26,375.
The subcompact SUV/crossover segment is so competitive that you can probably do better. The C-HR has unique and stylish looks and comes standard with many driver safety features. Problem is, you pay a bit more for the C-HR and get a bit less than many rivals. Still, the C-HR may appeal to Toyota fans who want something smaller than a RAV4.