Stand-out looks continue. When Scion, Toyota’s funky, youth-focused brand, was still around, the C-HR Concept was set to be a logical addition to it. However, Scion folded before it moved to production, and Toyota absorbed the relatively well-received compact crossover in 2018.
The C-HR stood out with its wild design in the Toyota lineup, but it injected youth the brand desperately needed. Today, the 2021 Toyota C-HR still stands out but has inspired the automaker to take additional risks with its more fun-loving Toyota Corolla Hatchback and TRD variants of the once-stuffy Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon.
While the C-HR has helped start a design revolution for Toyota, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a great option for buyers. The funky-looking crossover has looks that won't appeal to everyone and it's low on interior space.
Demands your attention, but maybe a bit too much. In the land of subcompact crossovers, designs range from vanilla to what-were-they-thinking. While the C-HR isn’t quite on the latter end of the scale, it certainly leans in that direction.
It boasts a wild look that’s sure to draw plenty of attention with its striking body lines, disproportionately large headlights, bold lower front grille, sloping roofline, bugged-out taillights, and more. With this design, the C-HR stands out in a crowd, making it an ideal option for those who prefer a little extra excitement in their lives.
For many, though, the design is simply too much, limiting it to a narrow niche of buyers. Plus, wild designs like this generally don’t age well, which could impact its resale value years down the road.
Sharp interior, cramped rear seats. Inside, the Toyota C-HR drops many of its wild design cues and presents a more traditional look. It has a few interesting bits here and there, like its 8-inch touchscreen poking out of the dash and triangular design cues here and there, but it’s mostly a familiar space.
Toyota positioned the controls high on the dashboard, making them more accessible to the driver. Plus, the whole dash angles slightly toward the driver.
While the front seats are plenty roomy and airy, rear passengers live in a dungeon. The low roofline and tiny rear windows allow minimal natural light and obstruct the view for taller riders. Taller drivers also deal with a tight 31.7 inches of rear leg room.
If you plan to haul adults in the rear seats, you may want to consider the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, or Mazda CX-3, which offer 39.3, 36.5, and 35 inches of rear leg room, respectively.
Cargo hauling is also challenging in the C-HR with just 19.1 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats upright and 37 with them folded. If you plan to haul more than just groceries, you may want to consider the HR-V or Crosstrek, which haul up to 58.8 and 55.3 cubic feet of cargo, respectively.
Tons of safety and fun features come standard. The C-HR is, well, a Toyota, and this manufacturer has made advanced safety gear a focus across most of its lineup.
The C-HR’s standard safety equipment includes just about everything you want: automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. The only option is blind-spot monitoring, and you’ll want this because the C-HR has a massive blind spot.
Automatic emergency braking is standard fare in most competitors, and the CX-3 gets close to matching the C-HR feature for feature, but it lacks standard adaptive cruise control. The HR-V and Crosstrek are the big exceptions, though. The HR-V only offers automatic emergency braking in EX and higher trims, and the Crosstrek offers it only in models with the optional continuously variable transmission.
The C-HR comes well equipped with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch touchscreen, and automatic dual-zone climate control. This list of features trumps virtually every competitor and puts the CX-3 and HR-V out on an island. The CX-3 lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in every trim. On the other hand, the HR-V offers smartphone integration on EX and higher trims only and has a 5-inch non-touchscreen infotainment system in the base LX trim.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Toyota C-HR is a solid value with its mixture of standard safety gear and interior equipment. However, its cramped rear seats make it best for empty-nesters or recent graduates who aren’t planning a family any time soon.
Buyers who plan to use the rear seats and cargo area with any regularity will want to look toward the more spacious HR-V or Crosstrek. These are also good options for buyers who can’t handle the C-HR’s funky looks.
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