Subcompact crossovers represent a fast-growing vehicle class. Consumers love buying them, and manufacturers love making them. The segment is becoming more diverse by the minute, and thus far, it seems to have split into two camps.
The first camp is comprised of models geared toward small families. These picks tend to emphasize utility, and they usually feature styling that’s on the safer end of the spectrum. These crossovers are great choices for parents, but they may be a bit humdrum for some singles and couples.
The second camp features vehicles aimed at singles and couples who want stylish transportation. Like coupes, these models are targeted at shoppers who value flair over utility, so it’s fitting that these crossovers often feature low, coupe-like rooflines and cargo capacity that’s on the lower end of the spectrum. These picks make a bold visual statement. Many singles and couples will love these vehicles, but those with families are likely to deem these models impractical.
Toyota’s C-HR falls squarely in the second camp. This capable subcompact crossover SUV joins Toyota’s roster for the 2018 model year.
The C-HR is sold in XLE and XLE Premium trims. All models are motivated by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque, and power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. Base models start at $23,545, including destination.
With the C-HR, you get a vehicle that will be appealing to shoppers seeking a small crossover with generous feature content and lots of panache. Still, this Toyota has its flaws.
Below, we take a look at eight great traits of the 2018 Toyota C-HR… along with a weakness you should consider before driving this crossover off the dealer lot.
#1: Stylish sheet metal
Car designers love to talk about thematic influences when discussing their work. In most cases, it can be hard for the average layperson to draw parallels between these themes and the final look of the product. However, with the C-HR, the stated themes bear an obvious influence on the vehicle’s sheet metal.
The C-HR’s designers have said the crossover’s sheet metal was inspired by the look of a diamond. The faceted surfaces of the C-HR’s exterior bear this out, and this design element gives the crossover a unique flair.
With its coupe-like roofline, aggressive design cues, and sporty stance, the C-HR is an attractive choice for shoppers in the market for a fresh-looking crossover.
#2: Superlative range of standard active safety features
You only have to travel back a few model years, to 2014 or so, to discover there was a time when many subcompact models offered little or no active safety features. Things have quickly changed, and shoppers these days will find many models in this segment offering helpful driver-assistive technology.
Toyota’s C-HR stands out in the area because of the sheer volume of useful active safety features it provides as standard equipment. All models come with adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and intervention, and a rearview camera. When you consider the C-HR’s affordable price point, this represents outstanding value.
The list of optional active safety features includes a blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert.
#3: Enjoyable handling
Sporty handling is great, but it often comes with stiff suspension tuning that can make daily commutes a bumpy and unpleasant ride. Some models manage to offer handling that’s keen enough to be enjoyable and smooth enough to be comfortable.
That’s the sweet spot occupied by the Toyota C-HR. It keeps bumps and harshness at bay, and it functions much like a larger vehicle in its ability to maintain its poise on the road. At the same time, it’s also nimble and responsive enough to deliver fun times on twisty roads.
#4: Decent amount of cargo space
Subcompact crossovers have varying goals when it comes to cargo space, and these depend on the markets being served.
Family-friendly models like the Honda HR-V recognize utility is a prime concern for their core demographic. The HR-V’s cargo capacity is generous, and it offers up to 24.3 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats.
Cargo space is less of a priority for stylish SUVs aimed at singles and couples. The Mazda CX-3 falls within this category, and its cargo space is minimal: It offers up to 12.4 cubic feet of room behind its second row. Similarly, the Fiat 500X offers just 14.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the second row in place.
When you consider that the C-HR seems to be targeted to singles and couples, it offers a reasonable amount of cargo space. This model provides 19 cubic feet of capacity behind the second row.
#5: Robust lineup of standard convenience and technology features
If you’re shopping for an affordably priced vehicle, it quickly becomes clear that in some cases, a vehicle’s starting price can be misleading. Getting certain basic features often requires adding options, and this can inflate the price.
This is why models like the C-HR deserve to be celebrated. This Toyota comes with a solid list of standard convenience and technology features, and the lineup includes dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights, a 7-inch touchscreen, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
When you combine this with the CH-R’s robust array of standard active safety features, it’s easy to see how many buyers could be well served by purchasing a base model with no optional content.
#6: Competitive fuel economy
Small vehicles are good choices for car shoppers seeking transportation with solid fuel economy. There are many subcompact crossovers that deliver great results on this front.
While the CH-R isn’t a class leader in fuel economy, it’s certainly a strong performer. The CH-R achieves EPA-rated mileage of 27/31 mpg city/highway. That’s not quite as good as the Honda HR-V’s 28/34 mpg city/highway. But it’s better than the mileage achieved by rivals like the Fiat 500X, which achieves fuel economy of up to 22/30 mpg when equipped with an automatic transmission.
#7: Attractive cabin
Car shoppers who value style take a hard look at a vehicle’s sheet metal, but in many cases, they don’t stop there. Many of these shoppers want a vehicle whose flair is also reflected in its cabin design.
While the C-HR’s interior isn’t as colorful as the cabins offered by some rivals, it’s home to a design that’s modern and appealing. The center stack sits in a handsome asymmetrical pod that dominates the dash. The overall look is clean and straightforward.
#8: Outstanding safety ratings
Some car shoppers expect smaller vehicles to deliver crash protection that’s mediocre at best. However, there are subcompact models on the market that offer outstanding crash-test results.
Toyota’s C-HR is one of them. This crossover earned a perfect five stars for overall crash protection in tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you’re looking for a small crossover with the goods to keep you safe in the worst of times, the C-HR definitely fits the bill.
A fatal flaw
Those in the C-HR’s target demographic often prefer vehicles that are equipped to keep them connected and entertained. A feature like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring is valued by these drivers, since it allows them to easily integrate their devices with their vehicles.
Unfortunately, the CH-R isn’t available with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. Satellite radio and integrated navigation are also conspicuously absent from this Toyota’s range of features.
For tech-focused drivers, this could be a deal-breaker.
Unique style, and strong on substance
The C-HR has a look that’s singular and assertive, and this is probably the first thing that will catch the eye of a prospective buyer.
But when you look at this crossover more closely, you’ll find it also comes with strong safety ratings, pleasant handling, and a generous lineup of standard features.
If you’re on the hunt for a small crossover offering distinctive style and strong value, there’s good chance you’ll be happy with everything the Toyota C-HR has to offer.
First Pictures: 2018 Toyota C-HR
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