HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE C-HR VEHICLE
The all-new Toyota C-HR compact has all the right features in all the right places, giving you enough sportiness and daily functionality to make you forget about the merits of more space found on a mid-size crossover.
I drove a 2018 Toyota C-HR with the 144-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. There are just two trims – the base XLE and the XLE Premium – with base XLE trim featuring the following standard features: Sport fabric-trimmed bucket seats; 6-way power driver’s seat; leather-trimmed steering wheel; 7-inch touchscreen display; rearview camera; 4.2-inch multi-information display; auxiliary input jack and USB port; Bluetooth; HD Radio; Aha Radio; 18-inch wheels; lip spoiler; and a rear cargo cover. Price as described comes to $22,500 without features.
The crossover-like compact class is heating up, and competitors to the Toyota C-HR include the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Subaru Impreza.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The design is very attractive, with the exterior features really selling it like the rear lip spoiler, aerodynamic body panels, a roof rack and wheel spats (and not so much the color which was an 80s-inspired Radiant Green body and contrasting white roof – opt for the Blizzard Pearl instead). I like the bigger vortex-styled 18-inch wheels, which add fun and depth. The XLE Premium adds integrated fog lights, hatchback door with a touch-sensitive opening, 8-way power driver’s seat (versus 6-way), and the Smart Key System which includes push-button start and navigation – just for this last wo features I would upgrade (you’d also get Blind Spot Monitor and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert which are handy features). As the driver it felt spacious, but rear leg space is a serious challenge. This is a four-door vehicle with very high-placed rear door handles and small rear windows – there are better compact vehicle choices for keeping small children happy.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2018 Toyota C-HR has not yet been rated by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 5-Stars, which is great for a compact. Standard safety equipment includes Toyota Safety Sense with a Pre-Collison System, Star Safety, Brake Hold, and an advanced airbag system. Only on the XLE Premium can you opt for safety technology.
Cost Issues: The base Toyota C-HR is $22,500 with the loaded version at $25,395– for this class, it is all about how low can you go with the most options. An equally equipped Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring trim is $25,930 and a Honda HR-V EX-L trim is $26,014.
Activity & Performance Ability: The Toyota C-HR was quick to respond to my driving demands with no sense of lag, but just not that powerful on the highway inclines. For someone like myself who lives in Wine Country with a lot of dark and winding roads, I appreciated the brilliant light casted from the projector-beam halogen headlights. I would have preferred push-button start to an “old-fashioned” ignition key, but that’s an option only available on the XLE Premium. All-wheel drive option would have been a great purchase trigger, but there is no option which could cause tougher-climate buyers to cry foul and opt for the Subaru Impreza. Also take a spin in the Mazda CX-3, as their 2-liter turbo offers quick action paired to a solid feel and a more powerful 6-speed transmission.
The Green Concern: Fuel economy is a highlight at 27 miles-per gallon city and 32 highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon (most other competitors reach about the same).
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is an excellent vehicle to consider if you are attracted to the sportiness of a hatchback but want more of an SUV look – plus you get excellent fuel economy and an affordable price tag. Yet not having an all-wheel drive option is a viable be a concern, as well as the lack of performance pep.
©2017 Katrina Ramser