SEATTLE, June 14, 2018 — The name, C-HR, stands for “Coupe-High Rider”, however, it’s not a coupe and doesn’t ride too high. There’s little question that Toyota’s design language has changed across its entire line-up over the last few years and Its 2018 C-HR XLE is Toyota’s foray into the affordable, compact crossover segment. It doesn’t do any one thing extremely well but does offer people the ability to sit-up slightly higher than a sedan with more cargo room in tow. While many vehicles these days share similar body lines, the C-HR has rather polarizing aesthetics to it – I’m sure folks will either love it or hate it.
Priced at just under $23,000, this XLE model features a 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine that is good for only 144 horsepower and it’s horribly mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The net result is liken to a one-legged midget trying to run through a 3ft high wall of Jell-o, when you push the accelerator to the floor. We’re talking a 0-60 time of 11 seconds. It’s far removed from anything that would be even close to being considered as performance.
There is a “Sport” mode but forget about it. It’s not “sport” or sporty. Sure it adjusts the shift patterns a hair but it’s more like putting lipstick on a pig – it’s still a pig.
To add hurt to injury here, the fuel economy is rated at only 31 miles per gallon on the freeway and 27 around town. One would think with its small engine displacement and performance crippling CVT that it would be well into the upper 30s for fuel economy.
So what does the C-HR XLE have going for it? Well, there’s a great deal of space – lots of cargo space, in fact – especially with the rear seats down. It has a price point that is far more affordable to the masses than other compact SUVs and – at the end of the day – it sports the Toyota moniker which has historically meant excellent reliability.
Inside, there’s a ton of room for all passengers. Plenty of headroom, stretch-out room and enough space for a good amount of luggage or those Costco shopping excursions. While the choice of materials inside seem a bit standard-fare and perhaps a bit pedestrian, it’s hard to find much fault in the overall quality, considering the price of the C-HR.
Additionally, there’s a seven inch infotainment screen that houses both the on-board nav and audio system. Speaking of, the (lack of) audio quality here will make you look to the aftermarket for a better-sounding solution.
The C-HR doesn’t skimp on safety as there are airbags throughout the entire cabin, along with auto high-beams, frontal collision warning for both other cars as well as pedestrians, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning. Toyota also tosses in adaptive cruise control, however, you’ll be the one hitting the accelerator each time it comes to a stop on its own which sort of defeats its benefits during stop-and-go traffic.
Handling is actually rather good, all things considered. Toyota built the C-HR on the TGNA platform and it definitely shows that when going around hard corners at faster rates of speed. You’ll notice little body roll and it brakes good as well, thanks for four-wheel disc. Steering feels quick and nimble, however, we’d love to have a bit more weightiness in it.
At the end of the day, we have a $23,000 compact SUV-type vehicle that’s grossly under powered, gets merely average fuel economy but has lots of cargo space and offers good handling. It’s a sort of crab-shoot who’d pick this car, but our guess is on younger couples that are starting a family. They don’t don’t want the “minivan stigma” but still want a vehicle that feels more room than most compact sedans, at a price they can afford.