Toyota set out to make a statement.
They no longer want to be the mature and conservative automaker, appealing instead to millennial car buyers who like to stand out from the crowd. Toyota started with a clean slate and went completely off tangent into a designing frenzy, bringing us the completely new C-HR in 2017 as a 2018 model. The C-HR was unveiled with a polarizing design to show us that Toyota can be stylish as well.
The car is engineered with a raised ride height and dimensions to compete in the subcompact crossover segment, capitalizing on the continued craze for crossovers in Canada. The C-HR brings back memories of the first three-door RAV4 when it was a compact go-anywhere crossover aimed at the young and adventurous. In its second production year, the 2019 Toyota C-HR Limited is added to the top of range. Let’s take a deeper look and see how the C-HR will help Toyota bring back its youthfulness.
The C-HR is without a doubt the most stylish offering in the subcompact crossover segment. It is refreshing to have a fashion diva in a segment that values form just as much as function. The C-HR really sets itself apart with aggressive design language. The front end has a low and chiseled chin. From the side, fenders are flared with muscular lines. In the back, a large spoiler extends the roof line over an aggressively slopped rear hatch.
The combination of aggressive styling and rugged body cladding works together surprisingly well to give the C-HR a unique appearance. Toyota makes a loud entrance into the scene with the C-HR to capture the hearts of the more emotional buyers. The design may be one that you either love or hate, but I have a feeling more buyers will love it.
These stylish design treatments are also evident on the inside of the C-HR. The new Limited trim adds leather seating surfaces, push button start and ambient lighting on the inside elevating the car’s overall sense of quality. There is a diamond theme used throughout the cabin creating an interesting mix of patterns and textures. High quality soft touch materials are used at most touch points, and even the hard plastics in this cabin are made to feel high quality.
The instrument gauges are analog and look a bit crowded with small fonts, but the center digital display is clear in displaying key information such as consumption, digital speedometer or trip information. The eight-inch infotainment display is well lit and situated to provide a great line of sight. The Entune 3.0 system will take some time to learn, but once you are used to where the functions are, the system is easy to use and for the first time, Apple CarPlay is standard. Android Auto is still not available.
The cabin feels very spacious up front with a commanding seating position giving great forward visibility. Rear leg, shoulder and headroom are unexpectedly good even with the tapering exterior design. However, the rising window line for the rear passengers cuts into visibility, making the rear cabin a bit claustrophobic. The heated front leather seats provide great support and look very sporty complementing the overall design of the car.
Getting in and out of the C-HR is extremely easy due to the higher ride height. Storage is decent with only two cupholders to hold your belongings, and the door storage bins are not very large either. Rear cargo space is decent but not class leading at 1,031L with the rear seats folded down and 377L with the seats in place. This is much smaller than the Honda HRV’s 1,655L maximum number.
The 2019 Toyota C-HR doesn’t quite have a powertrain to back up its sporty and stylish design. The Valvematic 2.0L four-cylinder engine is rated at 144 horsepower at 6,100RPM and torque of 139 lb-ft. at 3,800RPM. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission with Intelligent Shift (CVTi-S).
The transmission is quick to bring the car into its torque band, however the engine does not like to rev. It is not very eager to reach peak power, revving slowly towards the rev limit. With a curb weight of 1,497 kilograms, the C-HR’s power is simply adequate for maneuvering city streets briskly and getting up to highway speeds, but passing at said highway speeds requires more room and more carefully planned maneuvers.
The Toyota C-HR is rated at 8.7L/100km city, 7.5L/100km highway for combined 8.2L/100km fuel consumption. During our week of testing, we observed an average of 9.0L/100km with mostly city driving. Also of note, entering the cusp of spring, our test car was still equipped with winter tires which factor into the slightly higher observed fuel consumption. The C-HR only requires regular 87-octane fuel.
One of my favourite characteristics of the C-HR is how it handles. It’s very nimble and easy to maneuver. The steering is light but still very responsive, allowing it to be an excellent drive in the city. The suspension is well tuned to soak up rough city streets and potholes. Pushing the C-HR around corners, it performs with surprising composure with controlled body roll even with its taller ride height. Handling is much better than expected and backs up the car’s sporty design. It handles more like a sporty hatchback than a crossover.
Safety is always a key in this segment; hence the C-HR comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P. The package includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Auto High Beam, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. There are 10 standard airbags to provide all around protection. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also both equipped. On top of all of this, the C-HR has a STAR Safety System with key features like vehicle stability control, traction control and Smart Stop technology.
The Toyota C-HR starts at $23,675, and our tester came in at $29,315 with its $5,100 Limited package. Key competitors in this segment would be the Honda HRV starting at $23,300 and Nissan Kicks starting at $17,998. The HR-V is more geared towards function rather than form, providing users with more practicality. The Nissan Kicks competes as a price leader with the lowest starting price of the three, and also omits all-wheel-drive just like the C-HR.
The 2019 Toyota C-HR Limited stands out in the segment of subcompact crossovers as the most stylish and aggressively designed choice. It’s definitely a top contender for the best urban utility vehicle with key fundamentals such as great handling, practicality and efficiency. If I was a fresh grad looking to commute in style and also have a go-anywhere weekend warrior, the C-HR Limited is unquestionably a solid proposition.