Road Test: 2018 Toyota C-HR

Toyota’s latest entry into the hot crossover segment is something a bit quirky, fun, and yet practical. The C-HR is a mix of stylish, sporty, and sleek, words often not associated with a Toyota crossover. But we’re glad to see designers took the leap forward to bring us something that stands out but still makes sense in day-to-day life.

C-HR is the abbreviation for Coupe High Rider, which when you look at the vehicle from the side, makes sense. That’s just about the only way to describe this cute little guy.

When our Blue Eclipse Metallic-colored body and white roof C-HR XLE arrived for a week of review, it was our first time seeing a C-HR in person; we instantly fell in love with the unique looks.

The Toyota C-HR scores high on style points, but it’s also a hit when it comes to thrilling fun and impressive ride comfort. C-HR’s driving personality incorporates the ingredients of a well-sorted sports car – one that seamlessly melds responsiveness, linearity, consistency, and comfort.

Toyota says that C-HR’s ride and handling were tuned across various roads, including the Nürburgring Nordschleife, an iconic racing circuit in Germany’s Eifel mountains. It definitely feels like it once you get behind the wheel.

Engineers tweaked the speed-sensitive power steering so that feedback and turning is lighter at lower speeds, and significantly higher at highways speeds. Stronger feedback and heft leads to increased confidence. Braking is handled brilliantly with a pairing of 11.7″ front ventilated discs and 11.1″ solid discs in the back.

Under the hood, a punchy 2.0L four-cylinder engine produces 144 hp and 139 lb-ft sending all power to the front wheels via a CVT. AWD may come in the near future but that is TBD for now. Power is plentiful and the engine is pretty subdued under acceleration–there’s none of the drone typically associated with CVTs.

Fuel economy is rated 27 city/31 highway/29 combined mpg. We averaged 31 mpg in mixed driving.

Engineers designed a Sport mode that increases the responsiveness of the throttle, quickens the CVT’s automatic artificial “step-up” shifts, and maintains high engine speed to enhance acceleration. It really makes a big difference. Steering feedback is also weightier.

Inside, diamond accents on the dash, speakers, and headliner are very cool and a driver-centric dash creates a unique feel that follows through from the outside. The slim A-pillars and expansive windshield create a clear view of the road ahead and intuitive access to all buttons and switches.

The 7″ audio display is positioned centrally atop the dash to help reduce a driver eye movements. It works well but we wish Apple CarPlay would be offered (it will be soon). A color 4.2″ LCD sits between the twin-ring gauge cluster and shows a multitude of info.

Surprisingly, the backup camera doesn’t project to the large display on the dash but rather a separate smaller display in the rearview mirror.

The seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, with good side bolstering. The rear is also just as comfortable but visibility out of the side windows is very coupe-like.

There’s generous small item storage space (sculpted in-door pockets) and cup holders (two front cup holders; two front, two rear bottle holders). Designers used scalloped seatbacks, foot well cubbies carved below the front seats, and a chamfered headliner to create a spacious backseat environment.

For extra cargo carrying versatility, the rear 60/40 seat can split and fold flat. As an added bonus in the cargo hold, a hidden storage compartment located in the sidewall stores small items, as do compartments below the deck board. Everything in the trunk is concealed by a standard cargo cover.

C-HR comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, which is a full suite of driver assist systems including Pre-Collision System with Active Braking and Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. The radar cruise works perfectly, bringing the C-HR to a full stop in stop-and-go traffic, and the headlights illuminate far and wide to increase safety.

The C-HR also comes with a useful feature called Brake Hold. It’s a convenience feature that maintains braking force at all four wheels to keep the C-HR stationary when at a full stop. As a result, it will remain still even if the driver reduces the pressure on the brake pedal. Once the driver depresses the accelerator, brake pressure will release, and the car will move forward.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 10
Headlights 9
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 9
Visibility 9
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 6
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  94

Make: Toyota
Model: C-HR
Trim Level: XLE
Engine: 2.0L
Transmission: CVT
Options: White roof, Paint protection

Base Price: $22,500
As-Tested Price: $24,549

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