The Scion brand may be gone but its youthful DNA lives on with the Toyota C-HR, as the high-volume Japanese automaker hopes to take advantage of the burgeoning subcompact CUV market.
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2018 Toyota C-HR Overview
What's New for 2018
The C-HR is an all-new model.
Choosing Your Toyota C-HR
To say the design of the C-HR is polarizing could be an understatement, but as brand-new vehicle models enter the automotive landscape seemingly as quickly as redesigned ones do, a distinctive style will get one noticed regardless. And although its looks may convey disarray, the upside of the C-HR is its simplicity.
In staying true to its Scion roots, Toyota’s demographic target for the C-HR is millennials and as such offers simplified pricing and options. There are only two trims (XLE and XLE Premium) and a single option for both: R-Code White-painted outside mirrors and a “floating” rooftop. Exterior colors are standard fare with six choices, and all are paired with a black interior.
The 43.5 inches of front legroom beats direct competitors but front headroom is toward the back of the pack at 38.1 inches. Rear legroom is equally dismal at 31.7 inches. Although the C-HR offers 19.0 cubic feet of rear cargo volume with the rear seats folded flat, overall capacity is a meager 36.4 cu-ft. Similar-sized vehicles can offer up to 58.8 cu-ft of storage capacity.
However, for a small vehicle, standard safety technology abounds. Toyota's Safety Sense suite packs all the important electronic nannies, including lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, radar cruise control, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.
All C-HRs are front-wheel-drive – a fact that's sure to cause some consternation among northern drivers – and feature a continuously variable transmission. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an output of 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque is the only engine. Toyota estimates the EPA mileage to be 27 miles per gallon city, 31 highway, and 29 combined.
The five-passenger subcompact SUV is offered in two trims:
Subcompact SUVs are all the rage, but the Toyota C-HR disappoints in its glaring omission of modern technology. Navigation and smartphone integration via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are not available. Also, while the vehicle excels with its safety technology, its aggressive design creates blind spots and poor visibility, making the equipment a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. Opt for the XLE Premium, the only trim equipped with blind spot monitoring.
2018 Toyota C-HR Review
The 2018 Toyota C-HR enters the hot subcompact crossover segment with a plethora of standard advanced active safety features, above average interior room, and a quiet ride. On the other hand, its love-it-or-hate-it design, tepid performance, lack of all-wheel drive, and less-than stellar fuel economy numbers rank it below most of its competitors.
SinceToyotaoriginally intended the C-HR to be a Scion, only two trim levels are offered. The base XLE starts at $23,495, while an uplevel XLE Premium, with the optional R-Code paint scheme (the only available option that consists of contrasting white roof and mirror caps) costs $25,845. Keeping things Scion-simple is one engine (a 2.0-liter four-cylinder) and a single transmission choice (a CVT automatic) with power going to the front wheels only.
Neither model offers any factory option packages, instead relying on a long list of standard equipment. Both trims come with the usual power features (windows, locks, mirrors), as well as LED running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and normal, sport, and Eco drive modes. The Premium trim adds fog lights, blind spot detection, auto-folding power outside mirrors, more aggressively-bolstered heated front seats, and proximity entry (front doors and hatch) with push-button start.
With that in mind, here's how we'd build it:
- Model: 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Premium
- Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
- Output: 144 hp / 139 lb-ft
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic transmission
- Fuel economy: 27 City / 31 Hwy
- Exterior color: Ruby Flare Pearl R-Code
- Interior color: Black
- Options: Ruby Flare Pearl R-Code ($500, color-keyed body with white roof and mirror caps)
- Base Price: $25,345
- As Tested: $25,845
- Very little engine noise enters the cabin, even under hard acceleration.
- Toyota's latest 1.5-liter engine feels more refined than earlier versions.
- The C-HR's handling is better than past small Toyotas.
- Unlike its competitors, the C-HR is not offered with the option of all-wheel-drive – at least in the US.
- Despite three different driving modes, acceleration skews toward the languid regardless of which one is chosen.
- The C-HR's lackluster performance and front-drive-only powertrain don't translate into better-than-average fuel economy numbers.
- Its tall shape translates into a spacious interior with plenty of head room for both front and rear seat occupants.
- The rear seat is surprisingly generous, with enough room for three adults.
- The flip and fold rear seats create a flat floor – something not typically found in this class.
- The C-HR lacks the cargo space with the seats up.
- Average interior materials and plenty of hard plastics give the cabin a low-rent feel.
- Bits of silver trim don't do much to liven up the all-black interior.
Our Favorite Thing
The CH-R's small footprint belies a large interior with plenty of head and legroom for everyone – including up to three adults in the rear seat.
Our Least Favorite Thing
Despite having better than average handling characteristics for a smallToyota, the C-HR's lack of performance mean it just isn't much fun to drive.
Both C-HR models come with a long list of active safety features including a rear view camera, pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, and automatic high beams. The Limited trim adds blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert. In general, this is a solid choice for the safety conscious.
Enthusiasts need not apply. With a portly 3,300-pound curb weight that's anywhere from 176 pounds (Chevrolet Trax) to 491 pounds (Mazda CX-3) heavier than its competitors, an uninspiring 2.0-liter four, and performance-robbing CVT, there are much more enjoyable vehicles in this class.
The Bottom Line
Designed for urban environs, where its lack of performance is less of an issue, the C-HR excels. But tasked with navigating suburban sprawl and freeways or cosseting drivers during traffic jams, it's too compromised to stand out.
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