2018 Toyota C-HR brings Funkiness to Toyota’s Lineup

2018 Toyota C-HR (Aaron)

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is new to the lineup, slotting in the subcompact crossover space underneath the RAV4 as an import from the Scion brand that was slated for production there before Toyota folded Scion. With edgy looks and a bigger-than-expected interior, the C-HR offers excellent efficiency and good handling as well.

The manufacturer says

C-HR’s fresh design and available color options stand out for all the right reasons--without even trying. C-HR features a stylish and intuitive interior space that’s clearly designed for a passionate driver.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Toyota
  • Year, Model: 2018 C-HR
  • Class, Type: Compact crossover
  • Propulsion system: 2.0L, CVT
  • Base Price: $22,500
  • MSRP as tested: $25,364
  • Availability: Now

Overview

The C-HR was first introduced in 2015 as a concept under the Scion brand, but most assumed it would never actually make production because of its over-the-top styling and way too edgy appeal. A production concept came about a year or so later, softening some of the nuttier design components and making a more realistic C-HR seem possible even as the Scion brand breathed its last. Finally, last year, the 2018 Toyota C-HR was introduced and most were surprised at how unusually edgy this vehicle is for Toyota.

The 2018 C-HR features an exterior look that’s often equated to conceptuals at the car show rather than to actual production models. Yet it’s a look that really works, with a lot of changes and contrasts that create a great look. Inside, the Toyota C-HR has a roomy, usable interior that is full of everyday comfort. What it lacks in upscale appeal, it makes up for with ergonomic design.

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 144 horsepower honestly and puts that through a continuously variable transmission. That translates into a good combination of power output versus fuel efficiency, but sadly does not translate into particularly fast responses on the road. It does mean good efficiency, though we’re looking forward to the upcoming hybrid model as a more real-world option for that.

Where the 2018 Toyota C-HR really shines is in everyday use. The higher base price paid for the flamboyant C-HR comes with better accoutrements than would be found in most competitors. Safety and driver convenience items are standard in the C-HR. Most tellingly, though, is the surprisingly low noise levels in the car and the excellent quality of materials that went into the C-HR’s interior design.

Our only complaints about the C-HR are the lack of trim options and upgrade features, such as no upgraded infotainment and no added driver convenience aids. The back seats are also a bit cramped, though not any more so than are others in this same segment. We do like the good headroom and the very usable cargo space found in the C-HR, though, and the cool door handles for the rear doors.

We are very glad that Toyota augmented the 2018 C-HR’s 5-Star safety rating with standard equipment like LED daytime running lights, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate, and an auto-dimming rearview. We’re also surprised (and glad) to see the forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, traffic-adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning/intervention as more standards. Those all set a pace for the subcompact markets that we think are good omens.

What we like

Great look with an unusually edgy appearance.

Long list of standard safety equipment not expected in a subcompact.

What we don't

Lackluster CVT really kills any goodness coming from the 2.0.

Backseat legroom is a little cramped, even for a subcompact.

The odd-shaped rear doors make it more difficult than should be necessary to get in and out of the car.

Conclusions

The 2018 Toyota C-HR is unusually hip for the Toyota brand with a great exterior look, excellent color options, and a solid everyday drive quality. The C-HR is never in a hurry to get places, but it’s definitely bringing style with it when it does get there. The daily use ergonomics of the C-HR are also a boon.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The 2018 C-HR was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of about 250 miles were put on the vehicle in varied driving conditions, including winter weather.

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