Small sub-compact SUVs are the latest hot sellers in the auto business. Toyota, Honda, Mazda and others are fighting for their share of this growing market. Toyota’s entry is the C-HR, which stands for Coupe – High Ride.
The funky styling of the C-HR is designed to appeal to youthful customers, which probably explains why it resembles a car from a video game. Its design features, like the shape of its headlights and the size of the fender flares are all exaggerated. While the styling is coupe-like, the C-HR is actually a five-door hatchback. My test car garnered a lot of attention with its bright turquoise paint and white roof.
Inside, the charcoal gray interior (the only color available) provides a striking contrast to the exterior finish. The dash features a good-looking soft-to-the-touch upper level, and a center control panel with a seven-inch touchscreen canted slightly toward the driver. The touchscreen handles audio and phone, but not the backup camera display. Unfortunately, that appears in a corner of the rearview mirror. Below the touchscreen, more traditionally styled climate controls are angled upward, for ease of operation.
The seats are attractively clad in high quality cloth. The ones up front are supportive and comfortable. They come with manual adjusters (including height) on the base XLE, and with a power lumbar control for the driver on the XLE Premium. The seats in the rear are cramped, with limited head- and legroom. However, behind the seats, the storage area is a decent 19 cu-ft.
The base XLE comes equipped with the expected power assists for locks, windows and mirrors, as well as automatic air conditioning and Toyota’s Safety Sense, which is a suite of active safety features. Included here are adaptive cruise control, pre-collision alert and lane departure warning. If you move up to the XLE Premium you get additional safety items, such as blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, plus heated front seats and push-button ignition.
Toyota powers the C-HR with its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates a modest 144 hp. It’s teamed with a continuously variable (automatic) transmission (CVT). This drive train doesn’t have much oomph. However, if you select the manual shift mode, and downshift when you need to make a pass, or climb a steep hill, you’ll feel the power train a lot more responsive.
It’s a shame the C-HR doesn’t have more power because it drives pretty well, otherwise. The C-HR impresses with quick steering and good balance. It zips around corners in an agile, yet sure-footed way, thanks to its independent rear suspension. If you use the manual shifter it can be quite entertaining to drive on twisty back roads. Moreover, the ride quality is very good too. The C-HR absorbs road bumps well, and maintains its poise on rough surfaces.
The C-HR is competitively priced with others in its class. The XLE goes for $23,440; the XLE Premium comes in at $25,310. There are no factory options, except for the two-tone paint ($500). However, the Toyota distributer junked up my XLE test car with over $1,000 of questionable extras, like the ugly roof rack. The bottom line on the car I drove was $24,969.
Good handling and Ride
Low on Power