Review: 2018 Toyota C-HR
  • Car Review

Review: 2018 Toyota C-HR

By David Undercoffler | April 9, 2018

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $23,495 - $25,345

Key takeaways

  • Odd styling may be hard for some buyers to get past.
  • Once inside, however, it’s surprisingly refined and feels more upscale than its price point would suggest.
  • Easy to park and maneuver around the city.
  • Engine needs more power.

What is it?

The C-HR is Toyota’s smallest and cheapest crossover, slotting below the brand’s popular RAV4. It’s a subcompact (i.e. small) crossover, competing against the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Chevy Trax, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Renegade, Ford EcoSport, Fiat 500X and the Nissan Juke and upcoming Kicks.

The C-HR starts at $23,495 for the base XLE model; the only other option is the $25,345 XLE Premium.

The C-HR currently has a single engine choice -- a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 144 horsepower. It’s paired with an automatic transmission (a CVT) and standard front-wheel drive.

Unlike many of its competitors, the C-HR doesn’t offer all-wheel drive as an option.

The exterior styling is unconventional, but that’s a deliberate move by Toyota in an effort to appeal to younger, urban buyers (and because the oddball Nissan Juke proved to be very popular with consumers).

Despite this, there’s still meaningful space inside the C-HR so it’s not entirely form over function.

What’s good:

TLDR: It's what's on the inside that counts.

Refinement. This isn’t normally something you’ll find on entry-level vehicles of any kind, but the C-HR impressed us with its interior refinement. The cabin is nicely isolated from wind and road noise, and the materials and buttons in the cabin had an upscale aura to them.

Interior design. Not only is the inside nicely bolted together but it’s also well laid out. The dashboard design is intuitive and stylish without being over-thought.

Space. While the aggressive styling definitely eats into some cargo space, there’s still enough room for people and stuff inside. The back seats fit tall adults, and they fold flat to hold more cargo.

What’s bad:

TLDR: Blind spots, weak power, no all-wheel-drive.

Blind spots. We at Autolist didn’t mind the styling, but we were definitely bothered by a side effect of it: huge blind spots. Because of the way Toyota styled the roofline of the C-HR, it limits the driver’s visibility when looking over their shoulder in either direction. This was frustrating.

Tepid power. The C-HR is aimed at price-conscious shoppers, so it has a basic engine. In normal daily driving, it’s fine, but when we were trying to pass someone on the highway or merge on an onramp, we were left wanting more grunt.

No AWD. While we understand that all-wheel drive isn’t needed by many of the urban buyers who Toyota is hoping to lure in with the C-HR, it should still be an option. Nearly all of its competitors offer it, and it would go a long way towards boosting the C-HR’s overall appeal.

5 stars of execution:

Safety? Yes

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the C-HR its highest rating -- five stars. (Currently the Independant Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t crash-tested the C-HR.)
  • All C-HR models come standard with pre-collision and pedestrian detection and braking, lane-departure alert and assist and adaptive cruise control.

Value? Yes

  • The C-HR comes in just two varieties, and both are affordable in the grand scheme of things.
  • The fact that it gets all of the safety gear with no extra cost is an added bonus.
  • But with just two trim lines and no options available on either of them, the C-HR can quickly fall short of rivals who offer things like a sunroof, leather seats or even Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Efficiency? Yes

  • The C-HR is rated by the EPA at 27/31/29 mpg city/highway/combined.
  • That’s decent for its segment but not remarkable.

Driving experience? No

  • Though it looks like it’ll be one of the sportiest models in its class, the C-HR actually isn’t.
  • With less power than it should have and a transmission that works too hard to find that power, the C-HR is unexceptional in daily driving.

Execution? Yes

  • Despite the lukewarm powertrain, lack of all-wheel-drive availability and its small size, we liked the C-HR as a whole.
  • The refinement and materials in the cabin, the unique exterior styling and the safety and value quotient won us over.

Total Rating: 4 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The C-HR starts at $23,495 for the base XLE model (there are no options available, including all-wheel drive.)

This is the version we’d choose since the higher-end Premium doesn’t add meaningful goodies for the money. This base XLE model comes with LED daytime running lights, a seven-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system, Bluetooth, keyless entry and all of the active safety tech mentioned earlier.

The only other choice with the C-HR is the $25,345 XLE Premium. It adds fog lights, a blind spot monitor, folding side-view mirrors and heated front seats.

Also consider

Subcompact crossovers like the C-HR are the fastest-growing segment in the auto industry. What’s that mean for you, the consumer? You win. Nearly every brand has a competitive option.

The C-HR should definitely be on your shopping list. But so should the Honda HR-V (what’s with these weird names?), Hyundai Kona, Jeep Renegade and Chevy Trax.

Skip the Fiat 500X (bad for a variety of reasons) and the Mazda CX-3 (good vehicle, but too small). We haven’t driven the new Ford EcoSport or the Nissan Kicks yet. The Nissan Juke is a lot of fun, but it’s aging at this point.