Toyota is a latecomer to the subcompact-SUV game, and it makes a visual splash with the 2018 Toyota C-HR. Originally designed for the company's now-defunct Scion brand, the C-HR comes with a long list of standard equipment that doesn't include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but does include active safety technology, including active cruise control and collision mitigation.
You'll Like The 2018 Toyota C-HR If...
Like it or not, the 2018 C-HR is long on style, and it's sure to be a hit with attention-seekers everywhere. The roomy and comfortable interior extends to the back seat, strong points for a class defined by compact dimensions. The handling and ride might surprise you.
You May Not Like The 2018 Toyota C-HR If...
Outlandish styling cuts both ways, and the C-HR's lines could turn some buyers off. The engine struggles against the mass of this surprisingly heavy small SUV. Lastly, the lack of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or even Toyota's Entune infotainment suite could leave buyers who are dependent on that technology cold.
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is an all-new vehicle for Toyota. Originally conceived for the now-defunct Scion brand, Toyota builds the C-HR off the same underpinnings as the Toyota Prius and the upcoming new Toyota Camry.
Interior style on the C-HR is notably more subdued than the exterior, with only the diamond pattern on the dash, doors and headliner reflective of the exterior styling storm. The speedometer and tachometer are separated by a small color information screen, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system floats above the climate controls. The cloth-covered manual front seats offer good comfort and support, and it was easy to find a good driving position. The rear seats offer ample leg- and headroom for tall passengers, but the claustrophobia-inducing rear pillars are so thick that passengers have to lean forward to look outside.
Insect-like, angular, diamond-themed, or just plain weird, there's no shortage of opinion on the new C-HR exterior. The squinting headlights and angled roof, nose, doors and hood evoke the even more outrageous Prius. From the rear, a roof extension hovers over the rear glass, and the taillights project outward from the bodywork, sure to be an expensive repair when they're eventually cracked. The style is very color-dependent: In more neutral tones like gray and silver, the C-HR looks quite good from most angles. However, the R-Code option -- which paints the roof white on some models -- is an acquired taste.
Around Texas hill country north of Austin, two things became clear about the way the Toyota C-HR gets around. First, the talk of tuning the suspension on European roads is more than talk, as the new C-HR offers a ride-and-handling combination that we usually associate with higher-end European brands. Comfortably firm around town and on the highway, the C-HR can carry a remarkable amount of its speed through a corner, with even a satisfying little bit of rotation from the rear. It's fun, complemented by solid brakes and steering that makes up for its lack of feel with linear response and good weight. Sadly, it's let down by the drivetrain, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 144 horsepower routed through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). At full throttle, the engine noisily struggles to move the 3,300-pound C-HR, and the transmission's manual mode isn't much help.
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE starts at $23,460, including the $960 destination charge. That gets you a very nicely equipped compact SUV, with lots of standard features including TSS-P. However, if you want blind-spot monitoring, fog lights and keyless ignition, you'll need to step up to the $25,310 XLE Premium. Considering the XLE is equipped more like the mid-level models of its competitors, we think the prices are competitive against the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and especially the Kia Soul, which we think is the C-HR's most direct competitor. Whatever you decide, be sure to check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new C-HR. As for resale, it's too early to tell, but Toyotas generally fare very well.
Prices for the 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE start higher than its competition, but it makes up for that with a generous amount of standard equipment. There are auto up-down windows on all four positions, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB inputs, and even an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The electronic parking brake includes a brake-hold feature for traffic, and there are 10 airbags. On top of that, there's the Toyota Safety Sense P suite, which adds a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, full-range active cruise control, and more.
The only stand-alone option for the C-HR is the R-Code, which adds a white roof to certain colors of the subcompact SUV. For more than the standard features you need to step up to the XLE Premium, which adds nicer fabric on the seats, push-button ignition and keyless entry, fog lights, and puddle lights that project "Toyota C-HR" on the ground under the outside mirrors. The XLE Premium also gets blind-spot monitoring. However, note that there is no factory navigation system available, nor is the C-HR available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or even Toyota's in-house Entune system.
This bundle of safety technology includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and full-range active cruise control. The system is also standard on every 2018 C-HR, handily out-equipping many of its rivals that don't even offer similar systems.
The C-HR is built off the same underpinnings as the next-generation Toyota Camry, and it puts this to its benefit with a surprisingly roomy interior. Not only do front passengers get good space, but rear seaters -- often neglected in this segment -- have ample leg- and headroom.
Under the Hood
There's only one engine available in the 2018 Toyota C-HR, and unfortunately it's not up to the task of hauling around this 3,300 pound crossover SUV. It’s a new engine, with 2.0 liters and 144 horsepower routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). However the C-HR struggles under acceleration. The transmission has a Manual mode, but it really isn't any help, and neither is the Sport driving mode. Despite its SUV label the C-HR is only available with front-wheel drive. Fuel-economy projections are good though, with Toyota estimating an EPA highway fuel economy of about 31 mpg, and 27 mpg in the city.
144 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm
139 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/31 mpg
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is the company's first foray into the hotly contested subcompact-SUV segment. Competing with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Compass and others, the C-HR brings unique styling, a roomy interior, good handling, and a surprising level of standard high-tech safety equipment. Left on the cutting-room floor were all-wheel drive and, more importantly, infotainment tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's an interesting play: Will millennials -- the new C-HR's target audience -- be attracted to an unusually styled crossover SUV that lacks all-wheel drive and those tech options? Or will competitors like the Kia Soul prove more satisfying? Time will tell, but there's no doubt that the Toyota C-HR's charms are as noteworthy as its peculiar shortcomings.