CALGARY — Canadian singer songwriter Diamond Joe White has a tune called High Rider. The song is about Alberta ranching pioneer John Ware, and has nothing to do with Toyota’s newest vehicle, the Compact-High Rider, or the C-HR for short.
It’s ironic, however, because Toyota says the 2018 C-HR was designed around a ‘distinctive diamond’ theme.
Toyota claims, “The C-HR’s exterior is unique in the compact crossover market – combining a coupe-like sporty upper body with a dynamic lower body and powerful stance. The interplay between the main body and prominent wheel flares presents an iconic diamond profile.”
Leaving the music analogy behind, the C-HR was first introduced in 2015 as a concept vehicle. With an aggressive stance and bold, futuristic design cues, the 2018 production model has stayed very close to its roots. According to the automaker, the C-HR incorporates Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) approach to platform and powertrain design. They say TNGA imbues the C-HR with a low centre of gravity, high strength and body rigidity all in a lightweight package. Powering the C-HR is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that’s backed up by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to drive the front wheels. Toyota’s Sport drive mode increases throttle response, and the CVT includes a simulated seven-speed ‘shiftmatic’ mode.
Available only in XLE trim, the $24,690 C-HR can be ordered with the $1,600 Premium Package to give larger 18-inch aluminum rims and a host of technology and safety upgrades, including blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
“Those 18-inch wheels and tires nicely filled the wheel wells,” says Calgary driver Bob Corrigan. “The C-HR was a finely balanced package from the outside, and it’s a very attractive car in my opinion.”
Corrigan pointed out that the optional $255 Ruby Flare Pearl paint, “Is fabulous, and only added to the eye-catching design.”
Corrigan learned to drive in Winnipeg using his dad’s 1957 Chevy and has since experienced a wide variety of vehicles, from trucks to sports cars and everything in between. On his driveway now there’s a 2011 Hyundai Sonata and a 2003 Toyota Camry, the latter with 240,000 km on the odometer. With his wife, Barb, the pair put on plenty of highway miles traveling into B.C. as well as running errands in the city.
“My top three purchasing considerations when shopping for a vehicle include reliability, cabin sound proofing and fuel economy,” Corrigan explains.
Corrigan stands five-feet ten-inches tall and he found getting into the C-HR an easy task. It took him little time to become comfortable in the manually adjustable cloth-covered driver’s seat, and appreciated the power lumbar support – but says he’d like to see the passenger seat similarly equipped.
“The headliner and door panels are an interesting design (diamond patterned textures),” he says. “It’s something a little different, and they captured my attention right away.
“I’m not a techie, but I did find it easy to pair and use my phone via Bluetooth, and all of the controls, including the climate controls, were simple to use.”
Power from the 2.0L engine that produces 144 horsepower and 139 lb.-ft. of torque was adequate to propel the C-HR around the city and on rural highways.
“It’s got reasonable acceleration, but it roars a bit getting up to speed,” Corrigan notes. “It felt well-connected to the road, too, and I never felt like I was fighting it at any time.”
The suspension was tight and responsive and felt sporty without offering a jarring ride.
While Corrigan says he doesn’t engage too much with new technology, he found he appreciated the lane departure alert with steering assist.
“I’d never experienced that before, and if you don’t use your turn signal to change a lane it lets you know you’re coming off-line – I think it’s a good feature to have,” he says.
An avid golfer, Corrigan put the C-HR to the test to see how many bags of clubs it might carry. Without the rear seat folded forward, he says it will ‘just’ hold two bags. And there’s the rub – he’d ultimately want to be able to carry four people and their golf gear. The C-HR should be capable of seating five adults, but there’d be no room for luggage or much other gear.
So, who would best suit the C-HR in his opinion?
“A single person or a couple who might occasionally take other people with them,” Corrigan says. “My son Sean, he’s six-foot-two, and he found he had enough headroom in the front and the back, but there’s just not much cargo room with that rear seat occupied.”
He sums up the experience with this, “My youngest son, Kieran, is working on getting his driver’s licence and he really liked the C-HR – he wanted to know if we could keep it – he’d love to have a vehicle like this. Ultimately, I was sad to see it go.”
Day One: I wasn’t sure what to expect as this is a new model but I loved the aggressive lines and the fabulous metallic paint. Getting in was easy, and I quickly noted and liked the chrome gearshift. A big thumbs up to first impressions.
Day Two: The manual seat adjustment was easy to use. Got to try out the temperature control and it comes with handy toggles on both sides. Easy to use and great to look at. Back up camera comes as a split rear view mirror version with a third of the mirror for the backup camera and 2/3 a standard mirror. I love this combo, as I like to check both the camera and the mirror at the same time. For some it may take some getting used to but I really like this version.
Day Three: I’m a golfer so I like to check if at least two sets of golf clubs will fit. The answer is a conditional yes. Indents in the rear side storage area gives enough room to fit a couple of bags but you would be hard pressed to fit more than two or to fit carts. The spare tire takes up a lot of room leaving a shallow cargo space. If you had only two people putting down the rear seats is easy and they go flat so that gives you the room you need but that limits it to a two person vehicle if you need to carry much luggage or love to golf.
Day Four: Very quiet ride. Love Toyota’s soundproofing. With the sloping back windows the rear cabin seems dark, as the sleek design doesn’t provide much glass. I also connected my phone via Bluetooth and it was a simple task, connected seamlessly and for a non-techie that is a bonus. The call functions are clear and easy to access both on the steering wheel and the display.
Day Five: A day trip that combined going to the airport then a road trip to High River. The C-HR handles very smoothly on the highway with a quiet ride. It comes with blind spot monitors and lane control features that are easy to enable. My wife commented that it looks a lot like a two door as Toyota has designed the rear door handles to blend seamlessly into the flow of the vehicle. Great design.
Day Six: I had the C-HR parked on the side street this morning and as I went to get in two of my neighbors commented on it. I think this is a combination of the terrific red paint and black side molding plus the aggressive design. Feeling pretty proud I got in and gave it a run through the power manual shifter. While not a rocket it moves smoothly and confidently.
Day Seven: For us it would be a great second vehicle but just not enough storage room for four with big suitcases or sports equipment. Great sporty feel and fun to drive. It also feels extremely solid and quiet. In my opinion, Toyota has built a bulletproof vehicle with a great aggressive style.
Type of vehicle
Front-wheel drive compact crossover
144 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm; 139 lb.-ft. f torque @ 3,800 rpm
Four-wheel disc w/ABS
Price: Base / As Tested
Natural Resources Canada Fuel Economy
(L/100km) 8.7 city, 7.5 highway
heated front seats, leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel w/tilt and tele and audio controls, 7” touch panel display audio system, USB input, Bluetooth, backup camera, dual zone auto climate control, power locks and windows, keyless entry, accessory 12v power outlet, fabric covered sport seats, 60/40 split rear seat w/fold-down seat back, rear spoiler, heated and power adjustable mirrors w/integrated turn signals, LED daytime running lights, projector headlamps, rear step bumper, Toyota Safety Sense w/pre-collision system, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and auto high beam, Star Safety System w/stability control, traction control, ABS, smart stop technology
XLE Premium Package ($1,600) 18” aluminum wheels, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alerts, push button start, smart key system, Ruby Flare Pearl paint ($255)