Toyota has spawned another winner. Their C-HR subcompact crossover slots in under their top selling RAV4 SUV. It goes up against Honda’s HR-V, Nissan’s Juke, Kia Soul and a few others.
This front-drive crossover, that is formally called a Coupe High-Rider (C-HR) by product designation, has edgy, muscular styling lines that give a sexy exterior appearance. One might even say it forces a smile because of its eclectic looks. In fact, with its sloping roof, tapered rear door design and horizontal rear door handles, the four-door takes on the look of a racy coupe.
Appearance aside, C-HR has a roomy interior, exceptional handling, loaded with standard safety features and is economical to run. It’s offered in two trim levels of XLE and XLE Premium, the latter of which we tested. Both come standard with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that produces 144-hp and 139 lb/ft of torque. The inline four sends power to the wheels via a CVT transmission that garners EPA mileage estimates of 27 city, 31-highway mpg. So powered, the little four has linear acceleration from a standing stop and when merging onto rush hour freeway traffic. It could, however, be more energetic if the 2.0L was fitted with a turbo, especially when considering its 3,300-pound curb weight. Once underway though, there’s sufficient grunt for passing power and uphill jaunts.
Handing wise and with its short 171.2-inch length, C-HR is nimble and easy to park with its 17.1 foot turning diameter. Toss it in sharp turns and it exhibits European car traits. Its ride on 18-inch Dunlop tires is smooth and quiet. You’d think it’s a compact rather than a subcompact car.
Slipping into the cockpit, you’re treated to a fashionable interior sporting two-tone cloth supportive front seats and glossy plastic trim that doesn’t look cheap or cheesy. A 7-inch touchscreen looks like an iPad as it protrudes from the top of the vertical stack. It displays audio, aha, but nothing else. And here’s the major gripe. With a large, bright display, why did Toyota put the rearview camera display in a 2.75x2-inch portion of the rearview mirror, when the 7-inch screen would better serve the function?
HVAC controls are easy to use with flush buttons and digital temperature settings. A smaller 4.2-inch display between the gauges serves a myriad of driver information.
A low 17-inch step-in into the two rider back seat finds ample headroom and decent leg room, providing the front seats aren’t racked too well rearward.
Back in the trunk or cargo area, there’s 19.0 cubic feet of space or 34.6 when flipping the 60/40 rear seatbacks. Perhaps more meaningful, and with the rear seats upright, the trunk area measures 30 inches deep, 39 wide and 26 high. Flip the seats and depth extends to 60 inches for a full five feet. As such, cargo room is particularly spacious for a small car.
With a base price of $24,350, Toyota saw fit to load it with standard features such as pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure with steering assist, full-speed range cruise control, automatic high beams and more. And when opting for the XLE Premium it also includes the Premium Package with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, auto fold outside mirrors, heated front seats, driver’s lumbar control and more. The only options on the test car were for special Blizzard Pearl paint ($395); Paint Protection Film ($395); carpeted floor mats ($194) and delivery ($960) that brought the bottom line to $26,294. A reasonable, competitive price for a vehicle in this class.
The only way to make C-HR better is if it were offered with AWD, a beneficial feature here in the Snowbelt.