Compact crossovers are an authorize to print money, and the 2018 Toyota C-HR will no doubt have the benefit of that trend. It was originally meant to be Scion’s savior, but then scion folded, and this failed date with destiny sets the C-HR aside from other Toyota crossovers. It comes in 2 trims with zero available choices and, most notably for a crossover, no all-wheel drive.
Not since the introduction of the Nissan Juke nearly seven years agone has a compact placed such an emphasis on styling over customization and usability, however even the Juke can send power to all four wheels. Some can see it as a compromise, others will not care.
Toyota C-HR Features
Most Scions were mono-spec vehicles, leaving a customer to choose an exterior color and a transmission. Sure, dealers offered a number of optional accessories like lights, wheels, and body kits, however it was all simply toppings. Likewise, choices on the C-HR are limited to paint color and trim. No AWD, no manual transmission, and a black interior.
The C-HR comes in 2 trims, XLE and XLE Premium. What you see is what you get, and both trims come fairly well equipped. Standard features on the $23,460 XLE include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, and a touchscreen audio system with USB and Bluetooth. The $25,310 XLE Premium adds power dorsal for the driver, heated front seats, and keyless entry and ignition.
Sitting in the C-HR’s back seat is akin to being trapped in an unlit basement, with just a small, high-placed window to see out of. The fact that the interior only comes in black doesn’t help any. There is a giant plastic panel that covers most of the door, and shorter occupants will be left with only a view of the sky. Even with the poor visibility, the back seat is actually quite spacious. One 6-footer can sit behind another comfortably, with a surprising amount of arm and head room.
That latter is likely owed to the lack of an available headroom-sapping moonroof (again, because Scion). The well-tuned chassis seems somewhat like overkill when you consider lackluster powertrain. The 2.0-liter naturally accentuated inline-four makes 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, which is fine enough for the class. The US-only engine is mated to a fuel-efficient but soulless CVT. Despite making peak power at 6,100 rpm, the engine feels gutless at full bore.
Toyota C-HR Performance
Sport mode helps by adjusting the throttle, but the “fake” gears it also enables probably hurt more than help in straight-line acceleration. Fuel economy has not been finalized, but Toyota expects the C-HR to net 27 city/31 highway/29 combined mpg, right on par for the class. People want crossovers for the looks, the high seating position, and the cargo space.
Solid driving dynamics might be a bonus, but they are not the reason someone seeks out a small utility like this. That leaves the C-HR’s unique styling and standard safety items as the massive differentiators in a crowded segment. If those are priorities and you are a fan of the look, the C-HR is a good pick.
That said, scion failed because folks did not care for what the company was selling. Sure, the fact this crossover currently has a Toyota badge means it’s going to sell by the literal boatloads (the C-HR is manufactured in Turkey); the company is expecting to move 30,000 units in 2017, ramping up to 60,000 in 2018. However it’s still a vehicle designed on scion principles, and it’s hard to overcome genetics. Those interested in options like leather, navigation, and a moonroof are going to have to look elsewhere.