Introduced in 2018, Toyota’s C-HR (which stands for Coupe High-Rider) subcompact crossover, slots in under their top selling RAV4 SUV. It goes up against Honda’s HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Kia Soul and a few others, but mainly the HR-V.
This 2019 model front-driver 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 high-mounted horizontal rear door handles, the four-door takes on the look of a racy coupe. But it has one drawback. C-HR, unfortunately, is only available in FWD not AWD that is essential here in the Snowbelt.
Appearance aside, C-HR has a roomy interior, exceptional handling, is loaded with standard safety features and is fairly economical to run. It’s offered in LE (new), XLE and Limited (that replaced the former XLE Premium) trim levels. We tested the top-line Limited that’s been enhanced with Apple CarPlay, optional factory navigation system and leather seating.
All trim levels 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. Under half and full throttle, the engine is on the noisy side. Performance increases and exhaust tone differs a bit when selecting Sport mode (from Eco) that essentially makes the CVT feel somewhat like a traditional automatic trans.
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 with two aboard.
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 sporty traits. Its ride on 18-inch Dunlop tires is smooth and relatively quiet. It resembles a compact rather than a subcompact car.
Slipping into the cockpit, you’re treated to a fashionable interior sporting supportive front seats and glossy plastic trim that doesn’t look cheap or cheesy. An 8-inch (new) touchscreen with voice control looks like an iPad as it protrudes from the top of the vertical stack. It displays standard audio while aha, iHeart radio and more comes through Toyota’s limited Entune optional infotainment system. New too is that the rearview camera displays on it and is much better than the 2018s that displayed in a part of the rearview mirror.
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 tight head and leg room, the latter more so if the front seats are racked well rearward. Tall riders need to do a head duck when entering/exiting the C-HR as the sloping roof and curved door tops mandate this.
Back in the trunk or cargo area, there’s 19 cubic feet of space or 36.4 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 28 high. Flip the seats and depth extends to 62.5 inches for a full five feet. As such, cargo room is fairly spacious for a small car. Beneath the cargo floor is a space saver tire that is surrounded by foam bins wherein small items can be stowed.
Another nice feature is the doors will lock/unlock when approaching close to the car with the keyfob on you. The outside mirrors also automatically fold in/out at the same time.
To get all the desired bells, whistles and safety gear, buyers have to opt for the Limited trim model. The standard list, however, is long. It includes Toyota’s Safety Sense pre collision system with pedestrian alert, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring and more.
On the options side, Entune infotainment with the factory navigation, HD radio, Wi-Fi hotspot and more adds $1,040 to the base price of $26,000. To that add $500 for two-tone paint (black roof), paint protection film $395, all-weather floor mats ($149) and the bottom line reflects $29,129. Not bad, but consider that some of the competition offers AWD for the same price.
To its credit, C-HR received a top five-star government frontal crash rating, four for rollover and a “good” rating from the IIHS.
C-HR is fun to drive and is a real eye-grabber. It just needs AWD.