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2018 Toyota C-HR

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Overview (Final Score: D)

Form over function - three words that carry a lot of weight when it comes to describing an item. It means a designer was intent on creating something that focused on elements of style at the cost of overall usability. And it's a perfect way to describe Toyota's latest crossover, the C-HR.

What We Love About the 2018 Toyota C-HR:

  • Styling that stands out

  • Standard active safety tech

  • Surprisingly fun to drive


What We Don't Love About the 2018 Toyota C-HR:

  • Cramped interior

  • Needs slightly more power

  • Where's the all-wheel drive?



Exterior View (8/10)

C-HR is short for "Coupe High-Rider" and it fits perfectly, as the trademarks of coupe's design (low roof height and high beltline) are mashed up with the high-ride height of a crossover.

The front end features narrow grille openings, headlights that extend almost the full length of the fenders, and a bumper the protrudes outward. A character line that curves along the side profile adds a unique touch.

The back is slightly busy with a large spoiler sitting on top of the hatch, rounded taillights and faux vents on the bumper. The C-HR's exterior look will divide many people, but all will agree that it is eye-catching.


Interior Comfort, Quality and Ease of Use (7/10)

The first time you step into a Toyota C-HR, you become aware of two things: the creative design touches and cramped interior. A lot of diamond shapes are used throughout, such as seat fabric pattern, steering wheel and vents. Other traits include a unique texture for the speaker grilles and the center stack slightly angled to the driver to emphasize a sporty attitude.

The other thing is the interior feeling quite cramped. While those sitting in the front will find plenty of head and legroom, backseat passengers have limited space. Not helping is the high window line and lowered roofline, which creates a feeling of claustrophobia.

Cargo space sits in the middle of the class with 19 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 36.4 cubic feet with the seats folded. The sloping rear window eats into cargo space and will cause owners to think carefully about where they place taller pieces of cargo.


Technology (7/10)

All C-HRs come equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen system featuring AM/FM radio, Aha radio, Bluetooth, and inputs for USB and Aux cords. There is no option for SiriusXM radio or navigation.

At first glance, the system is very user-friendly with a logical interface and a set of physical buttons. However, you are forced to go through many menus to perform simple tasks such as connecting your phone to Bluetooth. The lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also hurts the C-HR, as many of its competitors offer both. But Toyota seems to be changing its tune with Apple CarPlay by adding it to certain 2018 models. We hope the C-HR is one of those recipients for the 2019 model year.

Fuel Economy (8/10)

EPA fuel economy figures for the 2018 Toyota C-HR stand at 27 City/31 Highway/29 Combined. Our average for the week landed at 28.1 mpg.


Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)

The Toyota C-HR is earning high marks when it comes to predicted reliability. Both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power give the subcompact crossover an above average rating. The C-HR hasn't been rated by J.D. Power when it comes to initial quality.

Safety (8/10)

All C-HRs come with Toyota's Safety Sense P suite of active safety equipment. This includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, and pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection. Other standard safety equipment includes a full suite of airbags including one for the driver's knee, backup camera and tire pressure monitoring. The XLE Premium adds blind spot monitoring. One thing you should be aware of is the image for the backup camera will pop-up on the rear-view mirror, not the infotainment screen.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the only group to put the C-HR through testing and awarded it a five-star overall rating.


Performance (6/10)

Toyota only offers one powertrain for the C-HR: a 2.0L four-cylinder paired with a CVT. Output for the four-cylinder is rated at 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. Disappointingly, the C-HR is only available with front-wheel drive, which will push some buyers away.

If most of your driving will take place in town, then the C-HR does a decent job. Getting up to speed is no issue and the CVT feels like your standard automatic transmission with faux gear changes. The driver can also slip the CVT into a manual mode where they can shift through seven predetermined ratios to mimic an automatic transmission.

But when the C-HR is asked to merge onto a highway or climb a steep hill, it falls apart. Step on the accelerator and the powertrain produces more noise than actual speed. Reaching 60 mph takes over 11 seconds, which is very slow for the class.

Ride quality is firm, but not to the point where passengers will complain. Handling is a bright spot for the C-HR, with little body roll and responsive steering. Some of the credit has to go to Toyota's TGNA platform that underpins a number of vehicles, including the recently redesigned Prius. TGNA brings a number of traits, such as a low center of gravity and a very rigid chassis.

While a Mazda CX-3 is still the best handling model in the class, the C-HR doesn't trail too far behind.


Pricing and Value (8/10)

The 2018 Toyota C-HR begins at $22,500 for the base XLE and $24,350 for the XLE Premium. With a couple of accessories and a destination fee, our XLE Premium tester had an as-tested price of $25,633. Our recommendation is the XLE Premium, as it brings blind-spot monitoring, power lumbar adjustment and push-button start.


Total Score and Competitive Comparison (52/80, 65%)

Mazda's CX-3 is perfect for those who want a crossover with a bit of style and driving fun. The CX-3 also has some of highest fuel economy figures for the class at 29 City/34 Highway/31 Combined. For 2018, Mazda made the CX-3 a bit safer with all models getting low-speed automatic emergency braking as standard. There are some issues that make the CX-3 less appealing than the C-HR. One is that the CX-3 rates much lower than the C-HR in terms of predicted reliability. The CX-3 also feels cramped for rear seat passengers.

Hyundai's all-new Kona is also worth a close look. According to reviewers, the Kona is just as fun to drive as the C-HR and CX-3. It also offers a slightly larger back seat that most passengers will feel comfortable. Hyundai's infotainment systemic the Kona is considered one of the best in the class with a simple user interface and availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One downside to be aware of is the base 2.0L four-cylinder is a bit of a slowpoke on the highway. The optional turbocharged 1.6L is worth the extra cost if you're planning to do some highway driving.

Toyota's C-HR is a somewhat charming crossover. The styling, while subjective, shedsToyota's reputation of stale designs. Handling is another bright spot, as the C-HR can challenge Mazda's CX-3 title for driving fun.

We applaud Toyota's effort in equipping the C-HR with a number of active safety features that competitors offer as options. But there are a number of issues that put the C-HR toward the back of the pack. The lethargic performance of the 2.0L is at the top of the list, followed by the lack of an all-wheel drive option. A cramped interior makes the C-HR a poor choice for families.

Who should consider the 2018 Toyota C-HR? If you really like the styling and are willing to accept the various comprises on offer, then go for it. Otherwise, we would happily point you in the direction of other subcompact crossovers.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
XLE XLE FWD (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 22500
XLE Premium XLE Premium FWD (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 24350

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