2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Review

Chunky, funky, and generally nonsensical

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Robust safety features come standard, one of Toyota's better dashboard designs, trendy aesthetic may appeal to the youth set.
Negatives: No all-wheel drive available, bad rear visibility, small rearview camera in rear mirror, horrible CVT with droning engine, severely underpowered, tiny back seat, ugly as sin
Bottom Line: We're not sure how this thing got approved for sale. The C-HR is supposed to be crossover-like, but it doesn't have AWD, sits lower than expected, and has no room. Hell, it's not even that efficient. What it does provide is a good ride and stellar safety features. That might not be enough to convince you to buy one, though.
 View Our 2018 Toyota C-HR Overview
Even after Toyota discarded their unsuccessful Scion youth brand last year, they haven't given up on Millennials. Case in point, the new C-HR (Coupe High Roof) crossover/hatchback thingy. Meant to compete with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax, and the Nissan Juke, the C-HR is clearly meant to be more edgy than practical due to its diminutive size, adventurous styling, and crazy colors. We drove it for a week to see what this new non-crossover marketed as a crossover was all about.

Driving Experience



Though we didn't expect much from the C-HR in terms of driving thrills, we didn't think it would be as much of a chore as it was. The lackluster engine mated to an even worse CVT means slow and noisy goings. At least the ride and steering are pretty good.

Ride Quality: Ride quality is pretty good, actually. Though it has a short wheelbase and a firmer suspension, it's manages bumps well without upsetting the little car.

Acceleration: Hard to say this exists at all. 0-60 comes in a very long 11 seconds, but it's the awful passing speeds (50-70 mph) that take forever. Over seven seconds is just unacceptable, as the CVT tries to figure out what it's doing.

Braking: Braking is good and progressive. Pedal feel is also good.

Steering: Steering is light but on center. Turn-in is responsive if not quick.

Handling: There's not much body roll, and the chassis feels fairly planted in turns. It might actually be fun to drive if it weren't so underpowered.




The available tech is decent but not overwhelming. The fact that this Toyota refuses to put Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its lastest models is annoying.

Infotainment System: The 7-inch touchscreen is vibrant, but the latest Entune 3.0 system isn't present here for some odd reason.

Controls: Infotainment buttons and the audio volume knob are too small. There's plenty of real estate around the frame, so we're not sure why. Steering wheel controls work fine, but we kept hitting the phone call button at the 9 o'clock position, which is too close to the steering wheel rim.

Bluetooth Pairing: Toyota's pair quickly, and the C-HR is no exception.

Voice Call Quality: Clear phone calls with no problems. Clarity is good and transmission uninterrupted.




We thought the days of bulges, disparate creases, and floating roofs were on the wane. Boy, were we ever wrong.

Front: This might be the most conservative angle, surprisingly. The maw is very much RAV-4 with the pinched fascia. The faux vents and the empty foglight housings (you get the lights on the XLE Premium) look strange. Our tester had the contrasting white roof and side mirrors. To say we would've rather had it in all teal instead is a non-wish.

Rear: Busy to the nines. The bulging taillights are overdone, and myriad lines make it look like a spaceship, and that's not a compliment.

Profile: The bulging fenders give it a rugged ethos, but there's nothing to back it up in terms of AWD or a whiff of off-road worthiness. The thick C-pillar is a nice touch (but not from inside), but the small and high-mounted door handles are just bizarre.

Cabin: Aside from the weird and very hard diamond plastic trim, it's actually not bad. We like the dash and the short, round metallic shift knob. It's one of Toyota's more attractive interiors.




There's just not a whole lot of space in this thing. Only the front passengers will experience anything resembling comfort. This really isn't a four-seater, and even two will find it tough to sit here for long periods of time due to its suffocating feel.

Front Seats: Decent seats have good cushioning. Six-footers have enough legroom and headroom, but at the expense of the rear occupants.

Rear Seats: Dinky and impractical for anyone but children.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Build quality is good, and there's no vibration. The engine noise is intrusive, and there's some wind noise from the side mirrors at highway speeds.

Visibility: The driving position is good, but the rear visibility is terrible due to the mail slot rear window and big pillars. We loathe the rear camera situated in the rearview mirror. It feels unnatural and is way too small. The idea is nifty, but the execution is seriously wanting.

Climate: The HVAC system works very well, blowing very cold air very quickly into the cabin.




The C-HR hasn't been crash tested yet by the two major entities, but it does have a seriously good set of safety measures in the Toyota Safety Sense P suite.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The TSS-P is a robust package and includes Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Automatic High Beams, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. This package will be standard across Toyota's entire 2018 lineup.

Optional Tech: None.




Hatchbacks tend to be pretty practical in terms of space, but the C-HR is on the lower rungs of the storage/cargo ladder. The interior is attractive but sacrifices usable cubbies for style.

Storage Space: There's a small and almost useless shelf under the climate controls and two cupholders in the center console that are a bit far apart. The center armrest can hold small items, at least.

Cargo Room: The C-HR's cargo space stands at 19.0 cubic feet with the seats in place and 36.4 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. By comparison, the Honda HR-V has a whopping 23.2 and 55.9.

Fuel Economy



Though 27 city and 31 highway might seem like decent numbers, there are bigger vehicles with more power and all-wheel drive that get the same gas mileage. The Subaru Crosstrek, for example, gets standard AWD, several more horses and nets 31 mpg highway.

Observed: 26.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 177 miles

Driving Factors: We drove on mostly suburban roads with heavy throttle to extract as much we could from the gutless engine.




The 6-speaker system works fine, but the sound isn't spectacular. It's clear but some distortion at higher volumes occurs. That's what you get at this price point and segment. At least it comes with HD Radio and the Aha Radio app with over 100,000 stations. Too bad Toyota still won't provide Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Final Thoughts

We went into this review a bit skeptical about the C-HR based on its odd looks alone. It's a vehicle that seems to the product of what Toyota thought would appeal to younger folks, but the result is just weird to us. It's decent to drive, but weak in terms of power. It's got polarizing looks, a small interior and cargo space, and no all-wheel drive. There are better vehicles out there that are actual high-riding crossovers with real space and much better power and looks.
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