2018 Toyota C-HR Review – Bold New Compact Crossover is Surprisingly Affordable

By Steve & Tamami Laser

We first met the new Toyota C-HR as a concept vehicle at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. The dramatically styled diamond-themed design was filled with eye-catching details, sculpted and chamfered like the faceted surfaces of a gemstone. We saw the concept again at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show (as a Scion) and at the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon.

Fast-forward to the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show where we saw prototypes of the new compact crossover ahead of its U.S. market launch this year. At the 2017 Tokyo Auto Salon, we sat inside a customized Japan-market C-HR dressed with TRD parts and accessories. Back in the states, we finally had the chance to get behind the wheel and test-drive a 2018 C-HR for a week around the streets of Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Let’s go for a test drive with our editor as he drives the 2018 C-HR on scenic roads in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Toyota tuned the C-HR’s chassis to deliver excellent ride and handling. (video © CarNichiWa.com)

The C-HR (for “Coupe High-Rider”) has retained much of the dynamism of the concept. It looks bold, distinctive and futuristic. The styling is the result of a global cooperation between Toyota design centers on three continents managed by Project Chief Designer Kazuhiko Isawa. The original concept exterior was created by Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif. Our C-HR tester was built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Turkey’s Sakarya plant.

Let’s take a closer look at C-HR features in our Walkaround video starting with the dramatic exterior, looking under the hood, moving to the cargo compartment, and then focusing on the front and back seat areas of the interior. (video © CarNichiWa.com)

Riding on Toyota’s New Generation Architecture C-platform (shared with the Prius) gives C-HR a low center of gravity for balanced handling and reduced body lean in turns. It also allowed designers to grace C-HR with a low, coupe-like roofline. A closer look reveals details like the rear door handles neatly integrated into the rear pillar shape. C-HR rides on vortex-style 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 225/50R-18 tires. Our tester, the top-line XLE Premium, was dressed with optional R-Code paint, topping the Blue Eclipse Metallic body with a white roof, A-pillars and outside mirrors.

The C-HR is powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine that puts out 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s connected to a Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence and Shift Mode (CVTi-S) that transfers power to the front wheels.

The driver and front passenger are treated to front bucket seats with sport bolsters while the XLE Premium adds front seat heaters and power lumbar on the driver’s side. We found the seats to be very comfortable and supportive during our week with the C-HR.

The 60/40-split folding rear seats offer room for three with the flexibility to carry long cargo inside the vehicle. Details like scalloped front seatbacks and a chamfered headliner add to the sense of spaciousness in the rear seat.

There’s plenty of room for gear in the cargo area with 19 cu. ft. behind the rear seat and 36.4 cu. ft. when the seatbacks are folded. Storage compartments for small items are located in the rear sidewall and under the cargo floor near the temporary spare tire.

The cabin’s ambience neatly segues with C-HR’s styling theme. We located subtle diamond patterns in the headliner and shape of features such as the dual-zone climate control and speaker surrounds. The standard tablet-like 7-inch center touchscreen is mounted high for ease of use while the surrounding dash is lower to help improve outward visibility. C-HR’s small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls adds to the sporty appeal.

Drive Modes can be activated by the driver using buttons on the steering wheel and the 4.2-inch Multi Information Display (MID) in the instrument cluster. We used the Normal mode for regular driving, then switched to the Sport mode when climbing hills for improved throttle response and quicker “shifts” via the CVT.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the C-HR are 27 city, 31 highway and 29 combined. During a 40-mile round-trip jaunt to UCLA, we scored 35 mpg using the Normal mode. Factor in the steep hills in our neck of the woods (we live at 1,200 feet above sea level) and regular use of the Sport mode resulted in an average of 25 mpg for the week.

C-HR features a standard 6-speaker AM/FM/HD Radio™, with Aha™ app, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity, AUX audio jack, Bluetooth® wireless connectivity, plus Voice Recognition with voice training.

To use Voice Recognition, simply press a button on the steering wheel and, when prompted, say commands like “Listen to FM radio.” Meanwhile, a backup camera displays the view behind the C-HR when the transmission is shifted into Reverse, yet the display appears on the inside rearview mirror, instead of the touchscreen.

All C-HRs are equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense P™ (TSS-P) package including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Our XLE Premium added a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

Toyota makes the C-HR nearly irresistible with its affordable pricing. Prices start at $22,500 for the XLE model. Our XLE Premium tester checked in with a base MSRP of $24,350, adding R-code paint, floor mats and destination for a bottom line of $26,004.

C-HR offers buyers in the growing compact crossover segment a great combination of cutting-edge styling, sporty handling, good performance, high-tech features, a comfortable cabin and affordable prices. We really enjoyed our week in the new C-HR. If we were in the market for a compact crossover, we’d put the new Toyota C-HR at the top of our shopping list.

[Note from the editor: While in Japan, we noticed that C-HR offers a Hybrid model with a 1.8-liter gas engine and Toyota Hybrid System II, plus a gas-only 1.2-liter turbocharged engine with available all-wheel drive. In our opinion, these would make great additions to the U.S. lineup.]

C-HR press fleet vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All product information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice.

Story, photos and videos © 2017 CarNichiWa.com