2019 Toyota C-HR Limited Review

The crossover segment's odd brother


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Youthful styling that's different from most crossovers, well-executed interior style, great set of standard safety features.
Negatives: Polarizing style is a bit too weird for our likes, terrible rear visibility, underpowered, lame CVT is the only transmission, no AWD.
Bottom Line: We just can't get ourselves to call this thing a crossover. It doesn't have AWD and is shaped and sized like a hatchback. There's nothing great about the way it drives, and no one fits in back. Low on appeal except for those who like to drive only one person at a time in a unique-looking car.
Crossovers apparently take on all shapes and sizes, as evidenced by this new entry into the CUV segment. Though no one would mistake it for a crossover, that's what Toyota is marketing the C-HR as (Crossover-High Roof). It's front-wheel drive only, small, and well, a bit weird. We drove it last year, and now we get it again but in the new for 2019 top trim Limited guise. We drove it for a week to see if we felt any better (or worse) about it than our initial impressions. Read on for the full details.
 

Driving Experience

5

 

When you make a car look sort of fast, but the results don't fit, it's disappointing. There are some minor merits to the C-HR, but not many.

Ride Quality: The ride is firm but not unsettling. It manages city streets well despite the short wheelbase.

Acceleration: This thing is dog slow. Not only is the pull totally uninspiring, the CVT is droning, slow, and lacks any verve whatsoever. 60 mph comes in a glacial 11 seconds. Don't try passing anything in this car.

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

Steering: Steering is light but on center. Turn-in is good. There's very little feedback, unfortunately.

Handling: It actually manages turns decently with minimal body roll and understeer. Of course, we didn't push it very hard.

Technology

6

 

It's a decent tech setup, and now that Apple CarPlay comes standard. The in-car tech is certainly better than older Toyota's, making the interior a bit more appealing.

Infotainment System: The 7-inch touchscreen is clear, and flanking buttons work well (though they are a bit too small for our liking.

Controls: The controls around the touchscreen are all within good reach, unlike some older models, but they need upsizing. 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.

Styling

5.8

 

In this color scheme with the black roof, the C-HR actually looks way better than the teal/white model we drove last year. But the car is overstyled and will likely look even worse in ten years.

Front: The pinched look reminds us of the old RAV4, and we're not exactly sure why it was modeled after a vehicle that was getting redesigned. We're not big fans of the look.

Rear: There's just a bit too much going on back here with the spoiler, the bulging taillights, and all the creases. It also looks overly tall here for a car that has no AWD.

Profile: The bulging fenders are nice, but it's faux ruggedness, at best. The front overhang is also a bit too long. At least the wheels and black trim give it a sporty look. The paint scheme helps it look less weird than brighter colorways.

Cabin: There are a lot of hard plastics here, but the execution is pretty good compared to the exterior. It's one of Toyota's more attractive interiors when compared to the last Corolla.

Comfort

5.5

 

It's small inside and not very airy due to the thick pillars, sloping roofline, and the very small rear window. The back seat is very cramped.

Front Seats: The seats have decent cushioning and bolstering. Six-footers have enough legroom and headroom, but push the seats back and passengers take a hit. but at the expense of the rear occupants.

Rear Seats: There's no room (head or leg) for normal sized adults. This thing is more of a small 2+2 than a four seater.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Like most Toyota's, the C-HR's build quality is good. The engine noise can be intrusive, and there's some wind noise at highway speeds.

Visibility: Visibility is poor out the sides and the rear due to small windows and tall shoulders. The rear camera situated in the rearview mirror and is hard to use. We're not sure why they didn't project it onto the vivid infotainment screen. A strange and unnecessary move.

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

Safety

8.5

 

The C-HR has been tested for 2019 and performed remarkably well. It only got dinged because of headlights. The C-HR comes with a great set of safety features as standard equipment that vault it to a high score, as well.

IIHS Rating: It missed nabbing the top awards because of poor headlights, but it nailed all the crash tests and the accident avoidance tech categories.

NHTSA Rating: The top score was attained by the feds giving the C-HR five stars in crash tests.

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: No Monroney sticker provided.

Storage/Cargo

4.8

 

It's a small car with small amounts of storage pretty much everywhere, so it's not everyone's cup of tea. We wish the cabin had better small gear options, but it sacrifices design to practicality.

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 is a decent 19.0 cubic feet with the seats in place but only 36.4 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. By comparison, the Honda HR-V has a rather capacious 23.2 and 55.9 cubic feet, respectively.

Fuel Economy

6.5

 

Efficiency is decent but for a car this size (and power), we expected better. The Mazda3, for example, will do 38 highway and it has more space, better quality and style, and more power.

Observed: 26.6 mpg

Distance Driven: 73 miles

Audio

6.3

 

Though we didn't have the details from the sticker, we think this trim level had the optional Entune 3.0 premium audio system, which is just ok. Nothing really jumped out at us, though it's a perfectly fine system. You just have to be willing to spend $1,040 on it.



Final Thoughts

We can't really get behind this odd little car because other than unique looks, we're not sure what it does well. By unique, we mean polarizing. Some will like its sort of anime-esque Honda CRX like shape, while others (like us) will find it hard to look at. Combine that with cramped quarters, mediocre technology, and a terribly underpowered engine paired with an even crappier transmission, and we run in the other direction. You're way better off with a Honda HR-V or a Mazda CX-3. Look elsewhere, folks.
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