2018 Toyota C-HR
the world’s largest automaker by building cars that were long on
sensibility but short on sex appeal.
exception of the 2000GT, the FJ40 and maybe the MR2, the Japanese
giant has never been known for making machines that excite the soul.
has concentrated on practical people movers that run right, run long
and never fail.
C-HR is a very good addition to the legacy of Corollas, Camrys,
RAV4s and Prii. It’s frugal and fun to drive.
The C-HR —
the name stands for Coupe High-Rider, Toyota says — is a
four-door, five-seat cute-utility vehicle, described as either a
compact or subcompact SUV.
Powered by an
efficient two-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine, it offers 144
horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, applied to the front wheels
by Toyota’s CVT automatic transmission.
big numbers, but this is not a big car. Riding on 18-inch wheels, it’s
light on its feet and light on the scales, weighing in at 3,300
The car has
sporty lines, including a sharp downward swoop behind the rear doors
and muscular, flared wheel wells.
standard with three drive modes. I found Sport not terribly sportier
than Normal, and Eco not terribly less so. So I stayed in Sport for
most of the drive, making the most of the little engine by using the
manual "stick shift" option.
At times, the
car felt like it needed a few more hamsters on the wheel. But the
C-HR proved adequate for the hills of Silver Lake and for repeated
runs up and down the Hollywood Freeway.
more of a city slicker than a freeway flier. Though the CVT allowed
the engine to hit 70 mph while spinning at barely above 2,000 rpm, I
found the size and weight of the car, on the standard tires and
suspension, didn’t inspire the confidence required to stay at
passing speeds very long.
The C-HR comes
standard as the XLE and in a more luxurious trim line, the XLE
Premium. Though both models share the powertrain and include a suite
of safety systems — such as lane departure warning, pre-collision
sensing and pedestrian alerts — blind spot monitoring and rear
cross traffic alert come only on the higher trim.
The base model
is pretty basic.
cockpit is appropriately minimalist. The dash and center console are
made of practical, easy-to-clean plastic. The rear-view backup
camera is not a screen but a window in the rear-view mirror. There
is no navigation screen. There is no Sirius XM. Neither is available
as an option.
seating section is also very spare. The three back-seat passengers
will need to be small ones, as the car offers limited head, leg and
side-to-side room. There are no amenities back there either, save a
cup holder. Don’t look for ports for your devices.
But those rear
seats fold down and offer about 40 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s
room enough for your golf bag, and underneath, the C-HR offers an
actual spare tire, with the actual tools to change it.
The model I
drove also had a roof rack suitable for carrying a surfboard, skis
or snowboard. (That’s a $299 option.)
reported that nearly 15,000 C-HRs had been sold in the U.S. from the
time of the vehicle’s debut in April through the end of September
— below sales numbers for the comparable Honda HR-V, and dwarfed
by Toyota’s own RAV4.
suffered as I have, and been forced to drive pricier SUVs like the
Porsche Cayenne or Jaguar F-Pace, you may unfairly find the C-HR
lacking some niceties.
But if you’re
a starting-out car buyer, shopping for a smaller RAV4 or perfectly
serviceable alternative to the Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-3, the C-HR is
a lot of car for the money and could be a smart choice.
Solid entry-level compact crossover
Highs: Easy to
drive, easy to afford
in infotainment options
Four-door compact SUV
2-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine
Multi-speed CVT automatic
economy rating: 27 mpg city / 31 highway / 29 combined